Lesson Twenty-Six from a Manuscript Red Line: CAPITAL LETTERS

Do you use Capital letters when your character yells?  Do you use them for casting spells?  Do you use them for inner thoughts?


Me?   No, Jennifer. 

I would never do such a thing! 

Well, I might… and I have.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

Amendment:  Hey!  This is my 100th post!  COOL!

I briefly mentioned CAPS in my first post on the Manuscript Red Line. (That was over Five months ago… Wow)  Anyway… here is the explanation.  The publisher said:

“The use of capital letters to show emphasis in a scene is not acceptable.  Especially don’t use it with magic, since JK Rowling did it that way.” (The Gold Mine author used caps as the character cast his spells)  “Come up with something new.  This is the key to fantasy – be unique – try not to do what was already done.”

Don’t shoot the messenger… this is their red-line, not mine.

In my novel, the characters don’t cast spells, but I did catch a few YELLING once in a while in CAPITAL LETTERS.  I got so used to looking at it that I liked it, but I have to admit, it works much better as “Get out!” rather than “GET OUT!”.  I use caps a lot for emphasis in my blog, so they may have wiggled their way into my novel.

For all you spell casters out there:  You can do better than JK Rowling.  She had her idea.  Now you need to come up with yours.  What are you going to come up with that everyone else wants to copy?


28 responses to “Lesson Twenty-Six from a Manuscript Red Line: CAPITAL LETTERS

  1. Pingback: Urban Word Wednesday: Phone-yawn – Natalie Hartford

  2. Pingback: Lesson Thirty from a Manuscript Red Line: Finale! Summing it all up | Jennifer M Eaton

  3. I’ve ridded my manuscript of all caps, and there aren’t words for spells. I’ve come up with my own way to cast. I think it works better.

    Congrats on having your 100th post. I really love reading them.

    Whatever happened to the story you wrote of the moving toys that scared the beejeebies out of Eric? I’d like to see more of that one.

  4. Congratulations! What are your thoughts about italics for a character’s thoughts?

    • I like itallics for personal thought. Just don’t get carried away. I found myself leaning in this as a crutch and overused it trying to force my POV. I’m removing a lot of them now, and using only for “internal dialog”

  5. Well, I think CAPS, bold, and italics only render nine unique combinations. So, if every publisher wants each one of their writers to use a unique method of notating things like magical spells or the utterances of deities and what-have-you, then someone is going to have to start putting in some overtime inventing new twists on textual emphasis. Jus’ sayin’…

    P.S. It’s a documented fact that it is universally acceptable to say anything you want without fear of repercussion as long as it is followed immediately with. “Jus’ sayin’…”.

  6. Jennifer, congrats on the 100th post. Yes, yes … do not do CAPS … eradicate all !!!! and I also don’t do ;;;; very much either. I have become so obsessed with my tags, that I think someone should do an entire book on them (not that I think you should), but not me. ME??? I just keep rolling along, singing a song and try not to YELL too much 🙂

  7. LOL. I never use caps but I just found myself using them when my new character was speaking just before I read your blog! Maybe blog speak is working its way into my novels as well. I’ve also used italics for inner thoughts b/c that’s what I was taught, but I don’t see everyone following that rule. So many rules are changing now, & truth be told,the italics are starting to annoy me. My character thinks, A LOT;0

  8. i ONLY USE CAPS WHEN I TRET SOMEONE ONE i AM UPSET AT. oR AT WORK WHEN NEEDED. Opps, sorry, had the caps lock on. I use italics for inner thougths or when the computer on board the ship talks. But I can never remember using all caps like you have discribed. I use to think using them in a blog would be okay, since I feel like these are more like a conversation, but I am may rethink that.

  9. I would have had NO idea. Seriously, I use them all the time on my blog and likely would have just proceeded the same way but when I saw your example side-by-side, you were right! Tks for sharing your insight!

  10. I admit guilt in using CAPS in my blog posts or an email for emphasis, but I never would in my MANUSCRIPT. *whew*

  11. One of my life goals is to invent a cliche.

    Something so clever, it catches on and takes the literary world by snort.

    I did not know (italicized, bold) J.K.R. owned the caps lock key.


  12. The English language grammar rules will be the death of me. Thanks for this bit of enlightenment.

  13. Shouting in my writing. Hmm… I have used caps when on Facebook or in the age old AOL chat rooms… I indicate shouting in my writing by regular type and an exclamation point.
    Italics, definitely for inner dialogue or thoughts.

    Great post.

  14. my favorite use of all caps is from the a prayer for owen meany – if you are not familiar, and character only speaks in caps lock. and because it’s john irving, it’s not only allowed… it’s awesome.

    • Yes, that’s great. Now the test is to find something we can all be noted for, and not copy that.

      Too bad I wasn’t born earlier. All these people have a head start on me and use up all these great ideas!

  15. LOL!
    (Did I just use caps…oops 🙂 )
    I’ve been using italics for the inner thoughts and voices from the past stuff. But you’ve given me something to think about.