The Situation: I am writing a short story. My POV character is listening to another person having a telephone conversation. The POV character only hears the one person speaking and not the responses.

My Question: How should the one-sided phone conversation be formatted for a short story?

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Walter Sanville, glad you found us. We have a tour and help center you might wish to check out. This is a good question, but unfortunately one that someone else has already asked. Please don't let this discourage you. Stick around, read, answer, ask. – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 15 '19 at 22:01

Whatever the person is hearing is not included at all (unless it is on speakerphone), and whatever the person on the phone says is put down just like any other utterance, in quotes, not italicized, separate paragraphs, etc.

If the POV character CAN hear the other side of the conversation, say on a speaker phone or just because it is loud enough, you have a choice, you can also do that in quotes, or you can do it in italics to indicate it is on a device.

This text you sent. I don't believe that, Jonathan heard. It was tinny, he did not recognize the voice.

Mark said, "Whatever, dude. That's what I heard."

Jonathan wondered what the text was.

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