The Capitalisation of Everything

The Capitalisation of Everything

There is a common phenomenon in fantasy and sci-fi writing that I like to call the Capitalisation of Everything. The notion appears to be that capitalising every other word somehow turns regular writing into full-blown, legitimate Fantasy Writing.  My feelings about on the subject are straight-forward: you should follow the rules of capitalisation.

If you are unsure about the capitalisation, a trick that might help is to consider a modern counterpart of the word you just capitalised. Then ask yourself if you would capitalise that. Here are some examples of common transgressions:

Occupations and titles – It seems that if an occupation or title does not exist in the real world, it somehow becomes special. If your sink is broken, you call a plumber. So if your mana nodes are out of sync, you send a messenger spirit to your local mage. Not a Mage, Lord Sorceror Imperitus or any other such nonsense. Remember, titles are only capitalised if written in conjunction with a specific person, i.e. “the Lord Sorceror Imperitus Garzhan was only a lord sorceror because he had bribed the council of mages”.

Disciplines of knowledge, items and materials – What do you need to build a bridge? Hard work, engineering, and steel. How do you construct a temporal discombobulation device? With hard work, temporal engineering, and an ample supply of tyranium. It’s that simple.

The point is that to establish your universe as credible you need to write out of the perspective of its inhabitants. Concepts that are magical or scientific speculation to your reader are a natural part of life to characters in your story. Your readers will have a much easier time believing that if you stop trying to make everything sound special.

With all that said, it is true that capitalisation rules can vary between cultures, and of course, all rules can be bent and broken assuming it is done consciously and with a particular purpose in mind.

3 Responses

  1. That’s hilariously obvious advice that I bet I’ve neglected to follow about a million times. Looking forward to following your blog. Always enjoyed your brutality 🙂

    • Thanks Paula! I look forward to writing it. And it is great to have found a context where my brutal honesty can be appreciated.

  2. After having written this, I went over a lot of my fantasy texts and removed a few capitals. 😀

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