Expressing loud talking/yelling/shouting


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Thread: Expressing loud talking/yelling/shouting

  1. #1
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Expressing loud talking/yelling/shouting

    I noticed that in some novels (that I could reach my hands on), a loud, stressed-on speech often expressed with capital letters. I'm aware that in online communication, capital letter is indeed considered as shouting.

    Is this applicable in literature as a correct form of loud speech?


    So far I don't have any capital-lettered shouts, but it does feel less impact, though I think it would look wrong and lame to do the otherwise.

    Shed your light, if you would, good sirs and madams. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Member Tomkat's Avatar
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    Hello there,

    I think it may depend on the style.
    If it is a humorous, or anyway a friendly work, I think capital letters or "graphic" tricks are welcomed.
    In other circumstances it may appear as a poor choice.
    The contest should already give to the reader the idea.

    The dialogue is accompanied by a "stage directions":

    # "The hell I know about it?" Yelled Tom, enraged by the question.
    KP snapped, he roared like a feral beast: "shut up then, and step aside!"

    # "KP, over here!" I had to shout to call his attention but he was way beyond the reach of my lungs!

    # "Yeah mom, I got it... yes, I bought the milk... yes, the eggs too... listen, I told you I got it... mom... I GOT IT! I GOT YOUR STUPID GROCERY!... yes.. sorry mom... ok, love you too."

    # "Help!" KP's scream echoed throughout the empty house breaching through walls and doors like an ominous spirit, the dreadful lament of the siren.

    What do you think?

  3. #3
    I'll add that italics can also be used--with or without caps. Dialogue tags and context are also important. Experiment and take it case-by-case. Sometimes, it'll look right; and other times, it won't.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  4. #4
    I usually just write “he shouted” or something. Or I’ll use an exclamation mark.

    Personally, I save italics for thoughts or text, and all caps for signs written in all caps.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    I noticed that in some novels (that I could reach my hands on), a loud, stressed-on speech often expressed with capital letters. I'm aware that in online communication, capital letter is indeed considered as shouting.

    Is this applicable in literature as a correct form of loud speech?


    So far I don't have any capital-lettered shouts, but it does feel less impact, though I think it would look wrong and lame to do the otherwise.

    Shed your light, if you would, good sirs and madams. Thanks.


    My two coppers: Like just about anything else having to do with creative writing, I'm sure all-caps is sometimes used in prominent works but I think it also runs the risk of coming across as overstated or even juvenile, as it seems your post was hitting on.

    I agree with the suggestion of being aware of the different ways you could convey shouting and just seeing which one seems the best fit when you need it.

    One thing I'd suggest is to take care not to tell us in several different ways that someone is shouting, just one is stronger imo. For example, an exclamation mark can convey shouting and so can a tag like "he yelled." So using both of those things together - let alone adding on yet more indications that the speaker is shouting, easily seems like hitting the reader over the head with something that isn't that difficult to grasp.

    Also, I think usually the dialogue itself makes it clear "how" something would be said so I see a lot of clumsy, unnecessary tags, -ly adverbs and unnecessary descriptions of facial expressions and movements. Someone being mad and yelling is not an earthquake, so overdescribing it can quickly become melodramatic and boring. And often, none of it is even needed because the important point is the venom, not the volume, anyway.

    For example, "I hope you die and go to hell, Mom."

    Compare to: "I hope you die and go to hell, Mom," Julie screamed, red-faced, knocking over her chair.

    To me, the message might actually have more impact alone, without having to share its attention with any explanations or descriptions.
    Last edited by Ma'am; November 23rd, 2019 at 08:31 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    Also, I think usually the dialogue itself makes it clear "how" something would be said so I see a lot of clumsy, unnecessary tags, -ly adverbs and unnecessary descriptions of facial expressions and movements. Someone being mad and yelling is not an earthquake, so overdescribing it can quickly become melodramatic and boring. And often, none of it is even needed because the important point is the venom, not the volume, anyway.

    For example, "I hope you die and go to hell, Mom."

    Compare to: "I hope you die and go to hell, Mom," Julie screamed, red-faced, knocking over her chair.

    To me, the message might actually have more impact alone, without having to share its attention with any explanations or descriptions.
    Venom's important, but so is volume. A lack of volume implies very different things about what's going on in that character's head. Unless there's some kind of tag, an exclamation point, italics, or caps, the reader is more likely to take a statement as cold rather than hot. Cold and hot are very different emotional states for the character. Hot's passionate, emotionally invested. Cold is dispassionate, closed off, reserved. Very different states, and as authors, we don't want readers getting confused and thinking a character is cold when they're hot. There are times when one of those is more "normal" and "healthy" than the other.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Venom's important, but so is volume. A lack of volume implies very different things about what's going on in that character's head. Unless there's some kind of tag, an exclamation point, italics, or caps, the reader is more likely to take a statement as cold rather than hot. Cold and hot are very different emotional states for the character. Hot's passionate, emotionally invested. Cold is dispassionate, closed off, reserved. Very different states, and as authors, we don't want readers getting confused and thinking a character is cold when they're hot. There are times when one of those is more "normal" and "healthy" than the other.
    I agree with you, partially. My point in that part of my post was to suggest discerning whether or not it is important to specify the volume of the dialogue for the scene being written. Sometimes it is but other times, it's not or the reader already gets it without having it spelled out.

    ETA: Over-explaining the dialogue is common in workshop entries, which is why I suggest to check if the dialogue can stand alone just as well.
    Last edited by Ma'am; November 23rd, 2019 at 11:08 PM. Reason: clarity

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    I agree with you, partially. My point in that part of my post was to suggest discerning whether or not it is important to specify the volume of the dialogue for the scene being written. Sometimes it is but other times, it's not.

    ETA: Over-explaining the dialogue is common in workshop entries, which is why I suggest to check if the dialogue can stand alone just as well.
    And my point is that if the author needs the reader to know the line's being said at high volume, there has to be a clue that the line's at high volume because otherwise, the reader might assume the character's on the cold side of things and get the wrong idea. It's always a good idea to see if a line of dialogue stands well on its own.

    Your example means different things at different volumes. I read it as cold, but the tags in the second version specify that it was supposed to be hot. The venom's still there and important, but the tone and volume mean totally different things. The second one sounds far more normal--like any normal awful teenager argument between a daughter and mother over some stupid thing.

    The first one makes the speaker sound more like this one (dialogue at end, if you'd rather skip the context):

    Disclaimer:
    trigger warning: violence, harsh language, POV of indeterminate age (possible child abuse, depending on how old you read him as being)

    I woke up on the floor, on my back, seeing red and a face I hated—a face that’d never turned around when I’d needed it to. She’d finally turned around, but she was stabbing at my face and cutting my arms. She was kneeling next to me, one leg on my stomach, one hand on the knife, but the other trying to get my arms out of the way when it wasn’t smashing my face with a weak, tiny fist.

    I grabbed the knife. It bit in my palm, my fingers, but she couldn’t stab me with it no more.

    I was about as big as her, but I’d been beaten up and stabbed already, and she was on top of me, stabbing me—but I knew pain; I was mean and tough and vicious now, and Daddy didn’t raise no pussy. Dad beat her, and I would, too, ‘cause otherwise she was gonna kill me. Nobody ever saved me.

    And all that mad, that pissed, that angry that I’d been keeping inside—it all just came out. She’d never helped me when I’d needed her to. Always calling me all these awful things. Always hating on me. Always threatening me and smacking me when Dad wasn’t around to pop her one.

    That woman was never no mother to me. I didn’t have a mother. I had her. Like the world’s worst lotto prize, I’d drawn her, and if she wouldn’t be my mother, I wouldn’t be her son.

    I’d always done my best to keep this shit quiet in me, but I couldn’t do it no more—not with her stabbing my face.

    She wasn’t my mother.

    It was okay.

    I grabbed that knife, and her eyes went wide and shiny—bigger than I’d ever seen them. Then she pressed down on the knife, pushed it and my hand against the floor, made that big, dull kitchen knife bite right in my hand.

    I couldn’t get that knife away from her though. We fought over it, but I wasn’t going to win it. I needed something else. Something close. My hand was gonna give out—even a dull knife could cut enough with her whole weight on it—she was gonna get it away from me. Gotta find something—something else—can’t look right at it, can’t warn her.

    Then she stuck her nasty, soapy thumb in my eye. What the hell had my eyes done to her?

    But I touched something—something wooden, hefty—something that was gonna work—had to work. Had to pull it away a bit; was stuck on something, stuck on the rest of the chair. One good yank would do. Had to be quick. Had one shot ‘cause she about had the knife out of my hand—had to make it work—one good shot—

    I bashed the side of her head with a broken chair leg. I turned a bit under her, had to use all my weight in that throw ‘cause she was on me, and she was bigger. One good shot though. One good shot, one good turn—and I wasn’t on the floor no more; I was getting up, and her head was bleeding, but she had the knife still. And I had a chair leg. And a chair leg was a lot bigger, lot heavier, and I was up now, and I brought that thing down on her.

    And I was screaming. I wasn’t gonna stay quiet about it. I hated her. Hated how she hated me.

    She brought her arms up, brought her knife up, but she was under me now, and I brought that thing down. Again. And again. She tried to stab at my legs once, but she dropped that knife to cover her head with her arms, ‘cause push comes to shove, she always took her beatings. And this was no different. Bow to the strong and beat on the weak—‘cause that’s just how bullies and cowards live.

    But I wasn’t no bully, no coward, and I wasn’t going to take a beating I didn’t have to. My daddy didn’t raise no pussy.

    Backdoor flew open so hard that the handle dented the wall, and the key rack fell on the floor. Dad was standing there—all this fear and worry on his face—and some guy I didn’t know was standing behind him. Some pissed off guy that was quickly looking more scared than mad.

    There was blood all over. Long thin lines of it on the floor, the walls, the table and chairs. And I was standing over her, and she wasn’t moving no more. And the blood on my chair leg was dripping onto the rug.

    Oh, fuck,” Dad swore under his breath, almost like a prayer, but nobody says that as a prayer. “David, what happened?”

    “You didn’t raise a snitch.”

    And he nodded, his face all white.

    “You give me a story; I stick to it, just like always.”

    And then he pulled his phone out and got to calling people up. Getting alibis. He got home late, was out with these guys, and they wasn’t gonna say anything to the contrary. And we loaded her up and went to the hospital ‘cause the ambulance takes too damned long out in the sticks; Dad talked to people on his phone the whole time, and we all got our stories straightened out. Me and her had been home, waiting for Dad to come home, and some masked man showed up and murdered her, but there was lots of us defending each other, so as to look like heroic, decent people.
    If a line's hot, the reader needs to know because otherwise the character can sound like... they're a mite too dispassionate in the circumstances. In my experience, a line's more likely to be read as cold if it's not given some kind of signifier. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it's not what you're going for.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  9. #9
    Beta Reader Princesisto's Avatar
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    Fully agree with this:

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    And my point is that if the author needs the reader to know the line's being said at high volume, there has to be a clue that the line's at high volume because otherwise, the reader might assume the character's on the cold side of things and get the wrong idea.
    And italics are normally used either for foreign language words or internal dialogue, so you might get the wrong effect if you are using them for shouting.

    "SO I NORMALLY USE ALL CAPS AND BOLD!" I shout.

    Effective, isn't it? And, if the editor really doesn't like it, he/she can easily take off the Bold and/or all-caps with the press of one or two keys.

    The above clues the reader that it is shouted: here we are talking about volume and some degree of associated emotional intensity, as people don't normally shout without strong feeling (or distance of the listener, or madness). But true venom has to come from the choice of words, I think.

    FWIW

  10. #10
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Thanks, y'all. It's a bit ambiguous. It can be a hit or miss. I suppose everything is valid as long as it expresses the sound we imagine in our head.

    Good point on the 'venom' btw.

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