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  • Capitalization in dialogue

    Posted by David Sharman on 24 October 2023 at 23:59

    In my novel, I’m bragging about the technical specifications of a car I used to own. Which parts should be written as words and which should be written as numbers?

    His hand caressed the sloping bonnet with nostalgic affection. “Here we have a 1976 Basil Green Motors Capri Perana.” His speech was one of reverence. “One of only 300 ever made. Underneath lies a 5.0-liter Windsor V8 engine sourced from the Ford Mustang.”

    He leaned closer, his voice resonating with the excitement of a true enthusiast. “It’s a spark-ignition, 4-stroke beast with a displacement of 301 cubic inches. Equipped with a Holley 460 CFM carb, aluminium high-rise intake, and enhanced with a high-performance cam and springs,”

    With a flourish, he continued, painting a vivid image of power. “This pony produces 281 horses at 5,800 RPM, accompanied by over 400 pound-feet of torque.” He paused, allowing the weight of those numbers to sink in. “All that power flows through a close-ratio, 4-speed manual transmission to a limited-slip rear end borrowed from a Falcon.”

    Eager to showcase every detail, Willem lifted the hood, revealing the gleaming chrome air cleaner. “And the best part? 0 to 100 kph comes in well under six seconds.” There was a glimmer of challenge in his eyes. “This gal will outrun anything on the streets, I guarantee it. She’ll hit 230 km/h if you put your foot down.”

    David Sharman replied 3 months ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Rose Blakeney

    25 October 2023 at 09:53

    Hello, David

    I was taught long ago that you have to be guided by length and complication of the written version. There may be different views on this but this is how I think it probably should be done in your example:

    1st para: 1976 – figures

    300 – words

    2nd para: 301 cu. ins – words throughout

    460 CFM – figures

    3rd para: 281 – words

    5,800 R.P.M. -figures

    4-speed – word

    4th para; 0 – 100 kph – figures, then kph in full

    230 km/h – figures, then words

    Other members might have different opinions but that’s how I would do it, I think. The more you think about it, the more confused you become!

    • Jim Condelles

      25 October 2023 at 14:55

      Are you asking about capitalization or about spelling out numbers?

  • Jim Condelles

    25 October 2023 at 14:59

    The only changes I would make are four-speed, four-stroke.

  • Natàlia Prats

    25 October 2023 at 15:54

    I agree with Rose on the editing.

    And then I’d probably scrap everything and rewrite the entire passage in a much more simplified, short, and less technical way, or at least showing the technical data is shared but not putting it down. Because this way you’re going to bore to death a significant amount of readers. Granted, they may not be your target readers.

    Also, what does capitalisation have to do with this?

  • David Sharman

    26 October 2023 at 11:37

    Thanks for all the suggestions

  • Amanda Jones

    27 October 2023 at 10:55

    I disagree slightly with removing the level of detail. If this is a main character – or the scene is being used for comedic effect – then whether or not the reader is keen on cars, the detail serves a purpose. It tells us about the character OR about another character’s response to the details given.

    • David Sharman

      30 November 2023 at 21:34

      It’s going to be part of a car chase scene