Thursday, September 2, 2010

De-emphasizing the emphasis

So I've been using Q10 a lot since I Inter-loaded it the other night. It is fabulous. Who needs a typewriter when you have typewriter sounds? Last night, with all that clanging and shwinging, I cranked out four thousand words in two hours. Two hours! I've never written that fast. Q10, alright!

Anyway, what's curious about this little program is there appears to be no way to create emphasis (bold or italics). (*Note that I leave the question open since I'm pretty inept, lazy, imperceptive, etc.) At first I was outraged. "Where are me emphases?" didst I roar. But Q10's visual interface, its clangity-clangs, were so audio-visually tasty, that I figured I could spare using emphasis for a while.

And boy, what a long strange trip its been! I've realized how reliant I am on emphatic font to create emphatic tone in my stories--and in particular, in dialogue. And how, conversely, unimportant it is if you just work on your wording.

Take, for example, the phrase: "He doesn't seek my counsel." Even utterly contextless, you can probably tell that the emphatic "my" connotes an invisible "their." The speaker is emphatically contrasting the kind of counsel that the subject "he" seeks out: mine versus their's.

My first thought when attempting to render this construction in Q10 was: it can't be done. I decided perhaps Q10 was an illicit harbour of evil intention towards writers. After all, real people speak with emphasis. People stress their phrases, in exactly the manner my emphasis shows. Why can't this powerful writing tool make room for emphasis?

So at first, I was like that. But then, I was like: hold on. I don't need emphasis. I can construct the sentence in question thusly: "He may seek out their counsel, but he doesn't seek mine." No emphasis needed! More words spawned! Aurally pleasing construction! Beautiful.

All this is just saying that Q10 is not only a visceral delight; it's also taught me something about linguistic--or at least literary--forms. You can create emphasis without the use of specific visual--or rather, symbolic--cues. Of course, in the long run, there's no need to spurn emphases completely; just look at this blog post! I'm emphatic for emphasis. On top of which, I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents," in which the author makes some pretty brilliant use of good old fashioned italics.

So, all in all, I won't be doing away with emphatic font. But I'll definitely be running around my text finding more pleasing and clever ways of creating emphasis, rather than strictly font-based mightiness.



  1. Doesn't Q10 allow you to underline?

    It looks like a pretty nifty program. But since I'm a Mac guy, I won't be able to test it.

    But since I'm a Mac guy, I get to use Scrivener. So there!

    FYI -- I've used free text editors in the past. They're great for small documents ... but they all had a tendency to crash once I hit the 100 page mark or so.

    So back up. And think about saving your novel in multiple documents.

  2. Hmm... I will definitely keep that crash-potential in mind. Nothing I want less than to be unable to access my writing.

    Another tool I'm looking forward to using--that I think is both PC and Mac compatible--is WikiPad. Perhaps I shall download it for sport this long weekend...


  3. I save novels by chapters anyways, and back each file up a million times around the world because I'm paranoid. Unless it's the master document (which'll be done in Word) my file size limit is 50kb (about 8000 words). That reduces scroll-around time too.

    I also use PageFour when I don't want to have to quit out of full-screen, such as when I'm referencing a bunch of sources.