3 Ways Not to Emphasis Character Dialogue

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Many writers include things in their book that they think will make their book better. They think if they just include that one thing, their message will be clearer to their readers. But sometimes, it's those very things that frustrate editors and turn away readers.

When I read a book, that may be my only chance that day to relax. I grab my cup of coffee, and I sit down, prepared to take a break from my to-do list and live another life vicariously through these characters.

Until someone interrupts my solitude with an "emergency..."

Our readers don't like those interruptions either, but sometimes, they can come from within our books. Here are three things that will interrupt your readers' experience with your book (and should be edited out):

1. All Caps

While we have all experienced the urge to make absolutely certain that our readers understand just how loud our character is, we should never use all caps when someone is yelling. Just like we don't like people yelling at us, readers don't like when books "yell" at them.

A normal sentence that ends with an exclamation point and the dialogue tag "he yelled" is all the reader needs. And if you want to add a little extra emphasis, italicise the sentence.

2. Multiple Exclamation Points

Sometimes, people get excited, and our characters are no exception. And sometimes, we may include two or three--or even four--exclamation points to show just how excited they are. But this, like using all caps, could come across as yelling to the reader or, at the very least, disruptive.

One exclamation point should be enough to get your point across, whether your character is excited, mad, or scared. If, however, your sentence or dialogue is still missing the punch you need, try using stronger words like action verbs.

3. Excessive Italics

While italicizing is a great tool, there is such a thing as too many italics. If you use it often or for whole sentences or paragraphs, your readers will become numb to it, and it will no longer serve your book as it was intended: for emphasis.

Use italics sparingly for single words or the occasional sentence, such as when showing what a character is thinking. If you have larger sections that need emphasis, try using the conflict in your plot, the characters' actions and reactions, or powerful or emotional words instead.

Application

Read through your manuscript and search for these three things. If you find any of them, edit them using the tips suggested here so that your writing will be stronger and your readers will have a better reading experience.

How do you like to emphasize dialogue in your writing? What techniques do you use to avoid these mistakes? Let us know in the comments!