re: Do I Capitalize “God” in Dialogue and Internal Thoughts?

posted 4/14/14

Dear Editor…

When using the word God in a dialogue sentence or thought, like Oh my G** or G**d***it, must I capitalize it? In my faith I’m taught not to use the Lord’s name in vain, but using curse words is true to my character. I’ve seen it both ways and I feel better when I leave it lower case because it could mean any god not my God.

Thanks,
L.

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Dear L….

The only rigid rule for capitalizing “God” in dialogue and thoughts is that you do so when using it as a pronoun: “Joe, God won’t like that.” Beyond that, you can let your character decide. Some characters say “Oh my god!” as a generic expression with no thought to religion at all. For them, lowercase works. They aren’t directly invoking God. For a character with strong religious beliefs, the word “God” almost certainly has religious association whenever it’s used, thus you’d capitalize it in her dialogue and thoughts—if she’d utter the name in vain at all. For her, “God damn it” would really be a plea to God on some level. For characters in the middle, “oh my god” is likely generic so lowercase works unless you just plain don’t like it, but you can avoid your discomfort or offense to readers by using the casual “oh gawd” or picking a different exclamation or curse. There are plenty! Or, how about just skipping the curse and using body language and prop interaction instead? A guy silently punching a wall can be richer than any curse word.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Dialogue, Formatting/Punctuation/Grammar
posted by: The Editor
under: Dialogue, Formatting/Punctuation/Grammar
Comments to "re: Do I Capitalize “God” in Dialogue and Internal Thoughts?" | Add a Comment
    1. Sue Ford wrote (on 04/14/14 at 5:14 pm) :

      Nice answer.

      [Reply]

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