I'm having a problem that is not addressed by The Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Style Guide I have access to: How does a writer express laughter in fiction?
I have seen no consistent answer. It seems playwriting and screenplays generally include it since actors are taught to say what's in front of them.
The most commonly used expression in prose is ha ha, with numerous variations. However, some feel "inclusion of such expressions are a sign of bad writing."
It is possible to write: Stu laughed and then exclaimed, "So the bug turns into the robot!"
Or one could write: "Ha ha! So the bug turns into the robot!" [Assuming it is understood Stu is the speaker.]
Or even: Laughing, Stu could barely be understood through his chortling: "So the bug--ha ha ha!--turns into the robot, ha ha!"
Is this truly a style issue, or do these have a ranking in terms of readability and fiction preference?