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Thread: Stupid question about punctuation (capitalizing nicknames)

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Peachnuts's Avatar
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    Question Stupid question about punctuation (capitalizing nicknames)

    If my characters address each other with terms of endearment such as 'Babe' or "Missy' or 'Pony Boy' or "Bikini girl'.
    Should the word (or both words) be capitalized each time?

  2. #2
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Yes. At least that's how I do it.

    A nickname is a name, in terms of capitalization. A term of endearment can be a one-time thing, or a constant nickname. Most publishers have a house style for terms of endearment, often lower-case.

    If I sell a manuscript to a publisher who disagrees, I can live with that.

    Maryn, a.k.a. Mimsy
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW Peachnuts's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    Hey, that's a great Emerson quote.

  4. #4
    Interprets for aliens Juliette Wade's Avatar
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    Effectively, a nickname should be capitalized in the same way as a name. So unless heiphenated, both elements should be capitalized.
    Juliette Wade
    "You're a linguist - talk to them!" (Stargate)
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  5. #5
    Scribbler SuperModerator dpaterso's Avatar
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    Hey baby, pussycat, honey, sweetie pie, I capitalize if it's a proper name but if it's casual use like these examples, lowercase. Pony Boy agrees with me. Bikini Girl asks what happens when the weather turns cold and she wears warmer clothes.

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  6. #6
    Mackinac Island Fanatic tehuti88's Avatar
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    I'm kind of on the fence, truthfully. Often, when a character first refers to another by a new nickname, it won't be capitalized at first, as it's not clear in the story yet that it's anything other than a one-time occurrence and thus not worthy of being treated as a real nickname.

    However, should the character continue to use this name (or have the name used on them), I'll usually start capitalizing it.

    In my current story, the name "little winter girl," first applied in passing to a girl with white hair, seems to have caught on so now when various characters call her this it's "Little Winter Girl." However, when they're using it more like a descriptive term rather than a nickname, usually when not addressing her directly ("that little winter girl" as opposed to "Hello, Little Winter Girl"), I won't capitalize it.

    So I guess you could say I'm rather inconsistent, and that kind of bugs me. :/

    If it's a true nickname though--as in a real name that's well established ("Charm" in place of "Charmian") and/or clearly treated, from the start, as a nickname (one character starts calling another "Little Sister," for example)--then I'll always capitalize it.

    I agree in that, usually, terms used in passing, like "honey," "babe," "sweetie," etc., shouldn't be capitalized. Unless one character makes it a point to always refer to another character by such a name.
    "Trust that which gives you meaning and accept it as your guide."--Carl Jung

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  7. #7
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Exactly, tehuti. If Mr. Maryn always called me Darling (fat chance), it might reach the status of a true nickname, like Mim (which is one of my family nicknames). In which case I'd capitalize it. But if he alternated darling with other terms of affection (or, for that matter, derision), then it's not a nickname but a term of affection, derision, or address.

    Pony Boy agrees with me. Bikini Girl seems to have frozen to death overnight, so we'll never know her opinion, the poor dear.

    Maryn, blaming dpaterso for not re-christening her Polartec Girl
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
    Maryn Says
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