I'm working on an audio drama and there are some scenes involving yelling. How do I capture this without distortion but also without it sounding like it's being recorded from a distance?
The most obvious answer is using compression on the input signal. The sound volume will be controlled and will stay below chosen threshold without loosing the character or sounding distant.
Not using a too sensitive microphone will help as well. The best choice here will be a good dynamic mic like Shure SM58 or SM57, but of course any other one will probably do the job. Attaching a pop filter on a microphone could do magic!
There are a few types of clipping. Microphones can physically clip if they are forced to vibrate too far, but this would generally take some pretty intense sound. Clipping can also occur if the pre-amp gains the audio up too much. Generally, you will want to reduce the pre-amp until the audio you are sampling does not clip. If you still get a distortion at minimum pre-amp gain, then you will need to move further away from the microphone.
Pointing the microphone will also help a lot with recording high volume sources. Point the diaphram off center (like at the forehead of the subjects). This is specifically to deal with distortion that happens at the mic.
Used the same technique for recording vocals with a subject that could "bury the needles".