(EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is sort of a “golden oldie,” since I originally posted it in March 2007. It was among the posts I lost with The Crash in December 2007. I found a copy and wanted to have it “on record,” so I’ve done a bit of rewriting — and here it is.)
I just finished doing some work on a project other people had edited! One particular writer was very enthusiastic about her subject! She was writing some anecdotes that involved a lot of dialog! Every bit of dialog was surrounded by quotation marks and ended with exclamation marks!
Forgive me for overusing exclamation marks to make my point. Obviously, it didn’t look quite that “cheesy” the way she did it — but it was close.
For all of you, especially you new writers out there, kill the exclamation mark. Simply erase it from your list of punctuation tools. Rip it off your keyboard. (No, don’t do that. You don’t want to lose your “1” key.) Rummage around in your punctuation toolbox, find that sucker, and fling it against the wall.
Using an exclamation mark is much like using smiley faces or (LOL!) in email. When you are writing, the content of your material should make the mood obvious. If your reader cannot tell you are excited, your characters are excited, or somebody is excited — it won’t help to put an exclamation mark in there.
Am I being too harsh? Is this to opinionated? Let me hear about it. Please. What are your thoughts and feelings about exclamation marks? I REALLY want to know!! (LOL!)
Now get busy and write something to make us all proud.
[tags]punctuation, advice for new writers, exclamation marks, writing tips, writing style, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]