Capital Letters or not in speech?

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mark.benjamin
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Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by mark.benjamin » January 24th, 2010, 2:26 am

What are your views on capital letters used in speech dialogue to show the character is shouting or excited? Good or bad?

Say for example. "GOAL!" He roared in delight.

Or

"WHAT?" He demanded.

Is that okay?
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poptart
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by poptart » January 24th, 2010, 5:58 am

Don't think I've ever used it myself, and it could get really annoying if overdone, but I don't think there's a law against it. Your call.
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » January 24th, 2010, 8:06 am

There's no rule, and if it works it works... but I'm not keen on it. In the first case, that's the whole point of the exclamation mark. ! indicates when someone is exclaiming. That's it's job, so putting everything in CAPS seems a little redundant, and risks melodrama. And in the second case I'd probably still prefer a speech tag to indicate something like that. But, again, the only thing that really matters is whether it works or not. Try it out. See what you think. Snag a couple readers and see what they think.

Best of luck,

Ink
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

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Jaime
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by Jaime » January 24th, 2010, 8:07 am

I think the exclamation mark and the dialogue tag should do the yelling, not the letters themselves :)

Nick
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by Nick » January 24th, 2010, 11:07 am

Personally I'm against it, but I've seen it used in published material before. It's whatever you want, I suppose. Use an exclamation mark and any necessary verbs to distinguish beyond simple raised volume is how I'd treat it.

LydiaSharp
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by LydiaSharp » January 24th, 2010, 1:13 pm

It is extremely rare because, more often than not, it's unnecessary. I'll add to that, obnoxious. It's as if the writer is saying, "Just in case you weren't sure about what I meant to convey here (even though I already used an exclamation point and paired the dialogue with actions that make the emotion clear) I'm going to THROW IT IN YOUR FACE." No thanks.
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Dankrubis
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by Dankrubis » January 24th, 2010, 1:53 pm

One time, as a practical joke on my writing group, I wrote a story from the pov of a obnoxious teenager that was a computer nerd. Half the story was in caps. I was almost kicked out of the group.

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taylormillgirl
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by taylormillgirl » January 24th, 2010, 2:20 pm

Just to ditto everyone else, I'd say nix the caps and go with an exclamation point instead.

On a side note, I recently read a book where the main character drove a HUMMER. Do you know how irritating it was to see HUMMER all over the page? It stood out all over the place. HUMMER, HUMMER, HUMMER. The character was a very large man who needed a very large vehicle, but I wish the author had chosen another make/model that didn't require all caps.
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marilyn peake
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by marilyn peake » January 24th, 2010, 3:19 pm

I've read that a writer should use the normal rules of written language to convey meaning, and that all caps shouldn't be needed. Exclamation points should be enough to let the reader know that someone's yelling.
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Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

mark.benjamin
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by mark.benjamin » January 25th, 2010, 12:47 am

Wow thanks a bunch guys! No Capital Letters 1-0 to Capital Letters!! Will see how it pans out though it's true that if you do it too much, it gets annoying!

LOL at Dankrubis! That's classic!
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Scott
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Re: Capital Letters or not in speech?

Post by Scott » January 25th, 2010, 6:23 pm

If it works, use it. My guess is to do it very rarely. I use ALL CAPS twice in my 84k work book, and I like to think for good reason.

I did have an issue with capping "God", though. I do so while writing internal dialog and in speech, and my thinking was to keep the reader from having to work out what I meant. It just felt odd to do so in fictional prose.

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