2015 note: The post below is a reblog from 2012. I wanted to note that my current publisher Month9Books does allow all caps, but they must be formatted as smallcaps. (Check Word formatting) In general, though, I would suggest using with caution, and sparingly. Now on with the post!
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.
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?