1. Raynimator
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    Raynimator New Member

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    Shouting in character dialog

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Raynimator, Apr 13, 2010.

    Ok, so I'm a new to the writing world. I started writing after I read a book and put it down disgusted thinking, "I could do better." Now as you can probably see I need some work on my grammar and since finding this site last night it has become my bible. So I decided to make a post about something that I was kind of beside myself on. When I have a character shout in his dialog do I just cap lock it or cap and add italics? On a side note is making the fond bold necessary?

    “THATS NOT TRUE!” I screamed out.
    THATS NOT TRUE!” I screamed out.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You do neither. Normal case, normal font. Let the context show the intensity. In this case, there's no context provided.

    “That's not true!” I screamed.

    to add some context, perhaps:

    My pulse was pounding, and I wanted to choke him. “That's not true!” I screamed.

    Save the all caps, the multiple exclamation marks, the italics, and the funky fonts for the furniture store ads. Writing is about building a context, and using language effectively, not employing visual acrobatics.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, yes, and yes to everything Cog said.

    The whole "all caps" thing is an artifact of texting. It really has no place in a story. It is another crutch that moves you away from using your words to describe and instead replacing with visual special effects.
     
  4. lowdown
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    lowdown New Member

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    Neither. That's what exclamation points are for. And use them sparingly.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It predates texting. It is an artifact of ever more eye-grabbing ads for second-rate goods. Used cars, furniture store blowouts, department store clearance sales, and the like.
     
  6. Raynimator
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    Raynimator New Member

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    Thank you. Thank you. I do build my sentences better than my example. That was just something quick that rolled off the dome. I get what your saying though. Looking back and re-reading what I've written the caps do look very gimmicky and tacky.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'll add my 'ditto' to all that!
     
  8. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I agree that a strategically placed exclaimation point can be all that's needed to show shouting.

    J.K Rowling uses CAPS in Harry Potter and I don't find it irritating, though it's probably best just to imply shouting in the context or use of descriptive wording
     
  9. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    I would tend to agree with cogito. If you want to give substance to the emotion of your character, put some meat on the bone. Build some interest around why the character is shouting.

    His blood was boiling, they had pushed him too far this time. The lies and inuendo were more than he could take. "That's not true!" he shouted.
     
  10. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adding to what everyone else has said, if you really feel that the use of something other than story context and description would benefit your writing, I would add italics, rather than caps. Even then, though, I wouldn't italicize and entire phrase, just to words that I wanted to add intensity to. For instance, to add to MJ's example:

    "What did you say?" His blood was boiling, they had pushed him too far this time. The lies and inuendo were more than he could take. "That's not true!"

    It's a small thing, but for me, at least, seeing the italics sort of helps me hear the character better in my head.
     
  11. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    That’s right folks—never use caps to indicate shouting. NEVER. Granted, Roddy Doyle used caps to indicate shouting in his Booker Prize winning novel, but he obviously got it wrong—he’s just a Booker Prize winner. What do great literary writers know about writing?

    Granted, The New Yorker permits the use of caps to indicate shouting, but what does the world’s leading literary magazine know about writing?

    Granted, Martin Amis and J.K. Rowling have used caps to indicate shouting, but who the hell are they anyway? Martin who? Like, he’s just some guy The Times named one of the greatest 50 writers since 1945. Like, what does he know?

    My advice: read quality literary fiction (not Harry Potter) and you’ll get to see how caps can be used effectively to indicate shouting.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The fact that you can find it in published literature, even good literature, does not make it good practice.

    It's certainly not the worst writing sin ever committed, but it's still a poor choice.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    keep in mind that if a new, unpublished, comparative nobody, you're not one of those named above, nor are you in their league... yet...

    if/when you get there, i'm sure your publishers will let you get away with much that they'll not allow a beginner...
     
  14. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    That is, of course, a good point. It reminds me of when I qualified as a lawyer about six years ago, and I was looking for my first proper law job. My hair was long—longer than it is in my avatar—and my mother kept saying to me, “No wonder you can’t get a job. Look at your goddam awful hair, all tangled and carefree.” And I’d complain and say, “But mum, Michael Jackson’s lawyer has longish hair. And there’s a partner at a firm I once visited and he had long hair, too.” To which she replied, “Yes. But they’ve already made it!”
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are writing sins in Stephen King's novels that make me cringe. But what publisher would argue the point and risk sending their cash cow to greener pastures?
     
  16. linden
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    linden Member

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    Capitalization for Emphasis?

    Okay, so ... another thread referenced Thomas the Tank Engine, and it reminded me that I had a question about using capitalization for emphasis.

    I've noticed that in their books they capitalize 'Really Useful' and 'Confusion and Delay', two concepts that are used through out their books and movies (the trains must be Really Useful or else it will cause Confusion and Delay). I've seen this done elsewhere, although I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head (apparently Thomas is beginning to rot my brain).

    So my question is, can you use this method to emphasize things, or is it generally frowned on? Or just plain incorrect?

    Thanks (in advance) for your input!
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    generally, both frowned on and incorrect!... unless you're writing a children's book, in which case many 'normal' writing no-no's can be gotten away with...
     
  18. linden
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    linden Member

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    Got it, thanks! I searched for 'Capitalization' and 'emphasis' but I didn't find this thread.

    All very good to know. :)
     
  19. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seems to me its more of a publishers type of decision. Something that publishers might allow, and be more leniant if you have made a name for yourself.

    But a practice you shouldn't do in a manuscript.
     
  20. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I usually don't see caps in books, but as a reader, I do like to see italicized words to place emphasis on certain words or phrases.
     
  21. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    So, can't do it as a new writer, but can do it as an established writer. Are established writers using all cap for shout just to show that they can get away with anything? This is absurd. There's got to be a rational explanation.
     
  22. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    In general, I totally agree with maia on this. However, here we're talking about a children's book where they purposely (in my opinion) capitalized these catch phrases for emphasis and a bit of jest, as I take it. So, YES, I think it's fine in this situation; generally, though, I wouldn't use capitalizing for emphasis.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't get the 'however' here, since you're saying essentially what i did...
     
  24. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oops, my apologies, Maia. I was referring to a previous post and never saw this one above.

    I really need to stop posting late at night when I'm half asleep. :redface:
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    happens to me when i post in the am, before having my daily dose of green tea!
     

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