This post, by Janice Hardy, originally appeared on her The Other Side of the Story blog on 2/6/12.
Capitalization might seem like a no-brainer, but if you happen to write science fiction or fantasy (and possibly historical), odds are you’ve found yourself wondering if something should be capitalized or not. All those made up names feel like they ought to be capitalized, but then you end up with a bit of a mess.
Grundark made his way through the Emporium, carrying his Pouchblade and three bags of Elbonquin wine for the Regent’s Flowering Ceremony. Crowds of Hillmen bumped into him, but the shy Filmori stayed at the edges of the street.
While this paragraph is also a good example why you shouldn’t name everything (do you have any idea what most of those things even are ?), all those capital letters feel off, calling too much attention to things that shouldn’t be focused on so much. It’s just awkward.
One trick I use is to replace the made up words with their real counterparts. It makes it a lot easier to see what’s actually a proper noun (a specific thing vs a type of thing) and what’s just a noun.
George made his way through the Mall, carrying his Pocketknife and three bags of Chardonnay wine for the King’s Birthday Celebration. Crowds of Humans bumped into him, but the shy Dutch stayed at the edges of the street.
Some of those capitals look pretty silly now, don’t they? Let’s look at the pieces individually.