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  1. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Partial Italicisation of Words?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Void, Jul 14, 2015.

    So, just in case people haven't had enough fun quibbling over italics for thoughts, here comes a much less important topic for us to fight over.

    Is it acceptable to only italicise part of a word if only part of it is emphasised? For example.

    "A story is set from the perspective of the protagonist and not the antagonist, regardless of moral alignment."

    In the above sentence, only the first part of the words are really emphasised, pro- and an-, as such, only they are italicised. I've seen this type of partial italicisation very rarely show up in fiction, and I'm not too sure what to think of it. On one hand, it does give the reader a clearer understanding of how the dialogue is said. On the other hand, it does look rather non-standard and slightly unorthodox, and perhaps even unprofessional.
    Personally, I'm more inclined to italicise the entire word regardless, but I just wanted to know what others think of this practice. Is it acceptable? Is it too unusual? Would/have you used it in any of your own writing?
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yes, it is acceptable, especially in dialogue.
     
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  3. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    I don't think I've ever used it in fiction, but it is a handy way to provide emphasis.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen it on very rare occasion. I think it looks a bit lame and somewhat insults the intelligence of the reader, but that's just my own viewpoint.
     
  5. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    It looks like you screwed up your format on you paragraph and it left part of a word italicized on accident. :supergrin:

    So I say I wouldn't use it that way and just do the whole word.
     
  6. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't remember if it was in fiction or non-fiction, but I've seen it. I can't imagine being turned down by a publisher or agent because you used it. It does aid in understanding, IMHO.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see a problem with it, though I'd be more comfortable with it in dialogue than in narrative that has any level of formality.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm wracking my brains over this, because I know I've seen it done recently. It was in dialogue, and the person speaking the dialogue was a pompous prat. It was a very effective way to get his pompous speaking tone across to the reader. I just can't blinking remember what book it was in. If I remember, I'll edit this....
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen it, so I suppose it shouldn't be a problem. Especially in your exerpt, where it does help to "hear" it the way the character says it. Have done it too, actually. Just in one sentence to give an idea of how off a character's pronunciation is (she stresses wrong syllables). I guess it'd be possible to work around that too. Like, maybe the person she's talking with struggles to understand her because the words sound like something else to him, or there's a remark that this is just how this person talks and everyone notices it 'cause it's, well, noticeable and slightly adorable.

    How would you then show the emphasis without the italics? How would you make the reader hear it the way the character says it (assuming that's your goal)?
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've seen it done. Wouldn't think it would be a problem. And it's great for showing almost condescending emphasis -
    "This is sooo sloppy to eat," Karen said wiping her mouth.
    "That's why it's called watermelon, stupid," Doug said spitting a seed at her.
     
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  11. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doug is a see-yew-enn-tee.
     

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