Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Word on Exclamation Points.


It is the most reviled of punctuation marks. It is one I struggle with. Pundits say you should use it as little as possible. Exclamation points are to communicate only the most extreme of emotional responses.

I get that. I really do.

One teacher at first suggested that you only use a written exclamation point where one would be in actual speech. She suggested that I pay attention to my own speech and note the infrequency of exclamations.

Hmm... she didn't know me very well, because I speak in exclamations all the time! I am ALWAYS excited about something. Jazzed! Amped! Distraught! Despairing! Overwhelmed! Extremely passionate! In fact, some people have found my highly enthusiastic personality off-putting and have requested that I learn to tone it down. My true friends however learn to accept my exclamations and note their absence with a concerned 'Are you feeling ok?'

Conclusion? Our characters should be true to their own personality. If you have a hero with a larger than life personality like mine you can get away with more of the pesky punctuation. If, however, you have a wall-flower heroine you should save the exclamation points for climactic moments.


1 comment:

Doug Hagler said...

Corrupted by poetry, I think that rules are there to be learned and then discarded for effect. The character with lots of exclamation points will stand out, and that's good to remember when writing her, but I don't see any reason to revile the exclamation!