It's Just Us Here discussion

Narrative Style > hell vs Hell

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message 1: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Sullivan | 13 comments Mod
Big decision time!

So I'm going to spoil something for you. (view spoiler)

So it feels like I should capitalize Hell and Heaven. Maybe not in the case "mad as hell." Definitely capitalized when referring to the place, "No way in Hell."

But what about "What the Hell"?

Also, the chapter where this is really bad has, like, ten Hell's... so I was like, Why the Hell did I use this phrase so much? Then I read a few lines and we were talking about the (view spoiler) -.-

message 2: by annob (last edited Apr 30, 2018 03:36AM) (new)

annob | 27 comments Since I'm the one who brought up the question of capitalization or not while beta-reading The Friend: It's Just Us Here, you already have a clue my gut feeling was to disagree with you in all of your capitalized examples above. :) I still do. Other people's opinions are therefore much more interesting than mine in this thread.

But... :)

I did look up common practice online beforehand, and it leaned toward capitalization only when Hell is used as a distinct place name, not when it is used in phrases to enforce a sense of strong emotion. Oxford dictionary even goes a step further and has this example sentence which only capitalize the word 'God':
‘So God's holiness makes hell as inevitable as his love makes heaven.’

I also found this mention via Google: "The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook both have these words as lowercase." But I don't have access to those sources so I can't verify them.

From a different point of view altogether, I also picked up while looking in to this topic that people of faith more often than non-believers feels it is correct to capitalize the word hell. So I suppose, in a way, it can also be used to signal to the reader of a character's non-explicit belief 'trait'.

TL;DR: I think you should stick to whatever feels right to you as an author, and write it off as a conscious stylistic choice.

message 3: by XiaXia (last edited Apr 30, 2018 12:21AM) (new)

XiaXia | 16 comments I also agree with Annob and the position from which I'm answering is the following: my grandfather and his father were Orthodox priests and all of my life I have studied the history of religion - all religions.
Hell should be "Hell" just as Annob said - when it's a location e.g. "see you in Hell". But in a sentence like "What the hell?", "no way in hell", "the hell is that?" should be lower case. Lower case "hell" = "heck" from a swearing perspective. You can say "what the heck" but you can't say "See you in Heck."

The same with heaven vs Heaven.

message 4: by annob (last edited Apr 30, 2018 12:30AM) (new)

annob | 27 comments Xia Xia wrote: [...] Lower case "hell" = "heck" from a swearing perspective. You can say "what the heck" but you can't say "See you in Heck.".

Sounds like an excellent rule of thumb. I'll file it away for future use. Thanks!

But it also points to "No way in Hell" should be capitalized. I guess I'll have to admit defeat in that particular case. And then quickly turn around and cry "conscious stylistic lowercase choice of mine!" ;D

message 5: by XiaXia (new)

XiaXia | 16 comments Lol :)))

message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Sullivan | 13 comments Mod
Xia, you're the best.

I never had this problem before. Guess I've been going to church too long, so when I write with my own voice, it seems like all hell's should be Hell. Lol.

So in the future, anytime I say "in Hell" it's going to be capitalized. I think that'll give you the respect for religion that I'm going for. Otherwise it's "What the hell." "Who the hell." etc. (Still doesn't feel right to me... ha.)

Problem solved! Thanks!

message 7: by XiaXia (new)

XiaXia | 16 comments Hehe, nah, you just poked one of my hobbies with your question. I could talk about hell for days, but not because of church. I have strange hobbies which I shift often. At one time, the hobbies were studying demonology and Dante's Inferno. Strange, strange times.

Creative Orange (Rumell Khan) (rkrespectedmember) You need capital letter for Hell because it is a title.

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