Writing Tip: Use Italics Sparingly

ExcitementItalics

Have you ever read an article or book in which the author seemed just so excited to tell you everything? That is the effect of using too many italicized words in one’s writing. Take a look at this example of overuse of italics within dialogue:

“Is this the haircut album?” Vicky asked with a smirk. The other weekend before we went out, I’d propped the record cover against my mirror and tried to trim my hair like Chrissie Hynde’s.

“Those of us who are still assistants can’t afford salons. I thought I did a pretty good job; maybe if this publishing thing doesn’t work out, I’ll try beauty school.”

“Lucky thing it wasn’t Bow Wow Wow you were in the mood for that day.”

“Yeah, a huge purple mohawk would go over really well at the office.”

Now here’s the paragraph without all the annoying italics:

“Is this the haircut album?” Vicky asked with a smirk. The other weekend before we went out, I’d propped the record cover against my mirror and tried to trim my hair like Chrissie Hynde’s.

“Those of us who are still assistants can’t afford salons. I thought I did a pretty good job; maybe if this publishing thing doesn’t work out, I’ll try beauty school.”

“Lucky thing it wasn’t Bow Wow Wow you were in the mood for that day.”

“Yeah, a huge purple mohawk would go over really well at the office.”

As you are writing, keep in mind that a little bit of italics go a long way.

Have a question about writing? Comment or email me at leslie@lesliewellsbooks.com

Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a novel about publishing and rock and roll, set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com

CCO Photo/Public Domain

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