7

It happens to most if not all of us. Something extremely emotional happens to us and we're just hysterical. Logic doesn't work. You contemplate punching a wall because that will help . . . somehow. Perhaps you just had your big idea stolen at work, your partner is trying to console you but it only hurts you more, and you are screaming, crying, and about to burn your house down. Either way, you are manic and your voice carries that tone. I have been told that all caps and multiple exclamation point is bad style so "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!" is pretty much out. So what would best convey that kind of over the edge, spinning your wheels, shrieking kind of hysteric yelling? Would I just explain it after the dialog? For example:

"Honey what's wrong?" asked unassuming husband of wife who was obviously freaking the f- out. "I don't know what to do," said wife in a way matching her frantic pacing of the house tearing her hair out because of reasons previously stated.

9

All caps can sometimes be acceptable if they're used very sparingly (think once or twice in a book), but yes, it tends to be a sign of bad writing. Extremes of emotion can usually be conveyed through action.

He swept the pictures from the shelf, sending them smashing to the floor. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he shouted. "Answer me!" His fist punched through the drywall.

Very loud screaming is better described than shown through ever-increasing font sizes.

Her words were shrill and deafening. "Get out!"

This gives you much more control over the impressions you create in the reader's mind. You can describe the tone as hysterical, angry, manic, panicked, an indignant roar, a savage scream... and a million other variations that would be impossible to express merely by using capital letters.

2

Be a perseverent observer. Make a note of things people do during such emotional aggravation. To be exact, the stuff they do subconsciously. Clenching of fists, eyebrows extending, short fast breaths. Show the anger or pain flowing out of the characters. I am not going to give you an example, it'd be too easy. Some people stutter when they are overwhelmed. Some wave hands frantically. Some sweat. Some use "some" words repeatedly, when their mind is unstable.

Build the tension with words. Show the reader how mad/angry/aggravated he is by describing his actions(all in narratives). Blow it up with a single line of dialogue. Use simple yet strong words for the blow. When people are mad its highly unlikely to bring out the best of their vocabulary.

Following the description after the dialogue often misses the effect you seek. Make the reader "feel" that its gonna blow up.

1

What you people are proposing doesn't work. For example, if my character is hysterical cos his wife been cheating on him and he goes off on a tirade and then exclaims: "...with the cook! THE COOK!!!" None of your convoluted words will convey his emotion as dynamically as the classic shouting CAPS. "THE COOK!" I tell ya.

  • For as long as it's used sparingly, yes, I agree. – Sara Costa Dec 11 '17 at 16:54
  • That's what she said. Who? My Immortal. Oh. I don't think it's a good idea to use all caps. You can, for instance, use the "reaction" of the surroundings to convey how mad your character is. The main objective is to enable your reader to recreate the feeling of the scene. – Mephistopheles Dec 13 '17 at 17:54

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