Is this a good idea?

I’m writing my first non fiction (a memoir written from the main character’s first person perspective)

Of course, the grammar rules are no longer concrete due to the first person narrative. I definitely want the book to have the character’s own voice. But I’ve noticed a tendency to want to include texting acronyms like lol occasionally when the character is describing a situation or event. How do you feel about this?

Unless you specifically aim at a 25-30 yo audience and want the book to be outdated in 5 years.

unless you are writing an epistolary novel – e.g, lucy kellaway,s martin lukes effort a few years back – i,d suggest your 1st person narratives use the sort of language a person would speak out loud if telling the story to a friend some time after the event. so textspeak is out, unless that character is the sort of lowlife scum who would actually use phrases like lol and rofl when talking.

For me, it’s odious to see such a sentiment in any context, but it’s especially distasteful to see it in a community of writers, and particularly when the OP asks a question about writing non-fiction/a memoir and the response infers a personal slur.

The forum rules list one rule: be polite.

How can it possibly be polite to call anyone lowlife scum because of how they talk or write, let alone infer that the OP falls into that category?

Personally, I think such a comment is a form of prejudice, which isn’t acceptable whether said in jest or earnest. The language that is used really matters, and today, for example, we look back at some of the discriminatory language used in earlier decades and rightfully feel revolted.

And the thing is that discriminatory language is often a precursor to discriminatory actions. Casual racism has led to millennia of racist violence. Casual sexism has led to millennia of sexual discrimination and inequality, playing a part in the subsequent actions of men like Harvey Weinstein. Deeds follow words, which is why discriminatory and demeaning words need to be challenged.

I’m glad we have political correcteness. Glad that people are outraged by Trump’s “shithole countries” comment. Glad that the #metoo movement exists, but wish it didn’t have to.

Would it be okay if Floss had written a different generalisation/denigration, such as:

“unless that character is the sort of lowlife scum who…
…is black.
…is a woman.
…is a Chink.
…is poor.
…is French.
…is European.
…is American.
…is disabled.
…is gay.
…would have dreadlocks.
…would have an Indian accent.
…would worship god.
…would be a Muslim.”

In my opinion, all of the above are discriminatory, bigoted, and impolite. They all break the one rule that members of the forum are asked to abide by.

My aunt says lol. She isn’t lowlife scum, unless lowlife scum is now a synonym for woman / human being / mother/ wife / charity worker / etc.

I reported the post, but it appears that my concerns are not shared, which I have to accept. I think it is disappointing that PrinceCorwin and the wider community haven’t been protected by the moderators. It’s not my place to apologise to PrinceCorwin, but I certainly feel sorry for him/her and want to distance myself from any taint of implicit collusion.

I’ll continue to use Scrivener, and I will contact tech support if the need arises, but I don’t want to contribute to a forum where writers / people are called lowlife scum just for being different to a member of the forum. For not conforming to one person’s particular point of view.

PrinceCorwin, write however you want to write: find your own voice and be proud of it.

Thanks and goodbye.

Surely a ”1st person narrative” can be described as a ”lowlife scum” in a discussion about writing? The forum rules about being polite are for humans, not for characters in novels.

The OP did mention that this is a non-fiction memoir, so we are indeed talking about a real human and not just a character in this case.

Also, how we discuss characters in novels often reflects how we think about real people, so I’d say even if this were a fictional character being discussed, it’s still a slippery slope.

Edit to stay on original topic:

Since this is a memoir, I would say there are two ways to go about things. Either verbatim, i.e., write the texts in all their shorthand glory, or “fill out” the words and add emotive descriptions for things like lol and emoticons. Personally, I doubt writing “lol” will make your text obsolete in 5 (or however many) years, as it’s been a widely used acronym since the late '90s/early '00s at least.

Also, to me personally, saying that text speak in a book is “bad” or “wrong” feels very prescriptive and almost elitist. Yes, I know, as writers we want to write the best text we can, but internet/text shorthand is becoming as accepted in the lexicon of most average people as acronyms like “i.e.,” “etc.” “ASAP” and the like. And I’ve seen people in their 50s using lol in texts, so it’s not just a millennial thing. And even if it is a millennial thing, one must remember that older millennials are into their 30s now and have been producing text using these acronyms for decades at this point. No matter how much prescriptivist writers cringe at the thought, “text speak” isn’t going to go away in 3-5 years. If it fits the voice of the person you’re writing about, use text speak when describing their actual text messages.

Maybe keep it to more common acronyms, a few more lol’s and btw’s, and a few less tl;dr’s and iirc’s for example. And as with all things, remember that balance is important, and you will have more space on a page to describe the thoughts, emotions, and facial expressions of your protagonist than they would have themselves in the space of a text conversation.

TL;DR (yes, I’m being slightly cheeky at this point):
With the advent of the internet and smartphones I doubt these types of acronyms will become obsolete any time soon, and even those that do will be easy enough to look up. So if you feel it fits in your book, personally, I say go for it.

Ah, Martin Lukes - I enjoyed that as an example of the “bathos novel”. There was never a sequel - and now the classroom’s gain is the epistolary novel’s loss. (And before anybody notes that the last report about Martin in the Financial Times stated that he’d committed suicide, has everybody forgotten the example of Reggie Perrin?)

“American” is rude? “French” as well? How does one refer to someone from these places?

You reported the post on a weekend. I suspect that any moderators who might have been around were paying more attention to the support backlog than to the forum. I know I was.

I chose not to remove the reported post because the OP referred to the individual in question as a viewpoint character and does not appear to have been offended, because I felt the “low life scum” comment was intended humorously, and also because I think the discussion that has occurred since is useful and would make no sense if the instigating post were removed.

If, in a future thread, someone denigrates a person or character based on any of your examples, we’ll address it at that time. In the meantime, please try to avoid fallacious arguments.


No, claiming that French or American people are lowlife scum would be rude.


absolutely. i,d remind pc, though, that some voices are more appealing to different audiences than others. some audiences will contain very sensitive individuals, apparently.

One question before you go: Are you saying that there are no ‘lowlife scum’ people in real life!?

The real problem with today society are not the foulmouthed people, but the people, trying to impose censorship on everything - even thoughts.

It is shameful that an author will support any kind of censorship.

It is not censorship to demand a certain standard of behavior in a discussion forum. Without such guidelines, the forum can’t protect itself from people who are more interested in disruption than in conversation.


If it’s the first person perspective, lexical frivolities can be easily excused, if the context is right.
Who’s your target audience? Who’s the intended reader in the memoir? How would you describe the narrator/protagonist (age, sex, character)?

It’s terrible to look this kind of sentiment in any context, however it’s mainly distasteful to peer it in a network of writers, and especially while the OP asks a question about writing non-fiction/a memoir and the reaction infers a private smear.