As many technologically astute individuals know, using the caps lock to communicate with people online is generally considered inappropriate. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that the enlarged text is equivalent to shouting and thereby constitutes an act of rudeness. In the world of writing, however, the caps lock is not necessarily a medium through which individuals adopt an attitude of boorish disrespect. Rather, the caps lock can be a mechanism through which the writer improves the quality of her or his work. Let’s look at two ways using the caps lock to emphasize certain words can enhance a book or story.
1. It Stands Out.
As most writers know, getting one’s work to stand out is important given that your audience has a plethora of options to choose from when they sit down to read a book. Moreover, people periodically peruse through the pages of a written text when attempting to determine whether or not they should read it in entirety. I personally know that reading through a work of normal text and subsequently finding myself exposed to a word written in capital letters can be a captivating experience. This happened to me as I read various paragraphs of a book by my Practical Biblical Communication professor entitled Crossing The Homiletical Bridge. Here is a sentence:
“Condition yourself now to watch far less television or doing other mindless things and spend that valuable time preparing, researching, and planning how YOU, with God’s help, will take control of YOUR one life for His glory!” (243)
Needless to say, this aesthetic-marked by several capitalized words that existed against a background of normal text-stood out in my mind.
2. It Emphasizes Your Point.
In general, if a writer takes the time to capitalize a word, they are attempting to make some idea or concept very primary in the mind of the reader. This is how I chose to interpret Flannery O’Connor’s decision to capitalize the word accident in her important short story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” The word appears like this:
“As soon as the children saw they could move their arms and legs, they scrambled out of the car, shouting, “We’ve had an ACCIDENT!” The grandmother was curled up under the dashboard, hoping she was injured so that Bailey’s wrath would not come down on her all at once. The horrible thought she had had before the accident was that the house she had remembered so vividly was not in Georgia but in Tennessee.”
In this paragraph, it seems clear that O’Connor is trying to emphasize that the most important aspect of the plot’s evolution at that moment is that the family has gotten in an accident. Additionally, it seems plain that O’Connor wants to emphasize the fact that the children are aware of how significant the accident is. Her mode of communicating this reality with the reader, then, is to reveal the fact that the children put emphasis on the word accident in a sentence marked by three other uncapitalized terms: We’ve, had, and an.
As mentioned earlier, writing certain words in capital letters can be an effective literary technique. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that it stands out and helps you emphasize the point being made. And that is why I encourage writers to use this narrative strategy. Good luck!
Guthrie, Tony. Crossing The Homiletical Bridge. Cumming: Heartwork Publications, 2010. Print.
Jocelyn Crawley is a 28-year-old college student currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree in preparation to become a pastor. She holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism, The Idiom, Thrice Fiction and Calliope.