Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Exclamation

The use of exclamation marks in literature has me baffled as of recent. I have noticed them more in the unpublished stuff I read on Writing.com. I see them in entries in my contest and even more from young writers and new ones in general. I don't know if it's just me noticing them more now or if some writers are using them more. And I'm not talking about the few that use more than one at the end of a sentence. X.X

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The purpose of the exclamation mark:

An exclamation mark is a punctuation mark, and like the full stop (or period), it marks the end of a sentence. A sentence ending in an exclamation mark is either for exclamation (“Wow!”), to make a command (“Stop!”), or intended to show astonishment in a way (“They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”). Often used in fiction writing in particular to add to the emotion of the words and/or the volume of them too.


In writing fiction:
I have been under the impression that in writing to use the exclamation mark as a form of punctuation sparingly. Which is why it has me confused when I start to see them used more in the writing I see online. It's almost as confusing as some writer's need to randomly use all caps for one word in a sentence. While I don't remember every single thing I've written over the past 7 years, I am certain that most of the work doesn't have very many uses of the exclamation mark. But I started to wonder if maybe it was just me.

For certain, there only needs to be one. The whole, "omg" with 20 exclamation marks might work for random posts on line or something (even annoying then) but if wanting to publish a story, try for one and some sort of way to show what is going on beyond using excessive punctuation.

There is a time and place for the exclamation mark but it's not something to fall on in lieu of showing the emotion, tension, inflection or whatever the punctuation would have been used to achieve. There are other options. So, I think I will stick with only using it on occasion.


A few sites that discuss this:
http://theperfectwrite.com/creative-fiction-writing-punctuation-never-to-use-the-exclamation-point/
http://knol.google.com/k/emily-sather/how-to-use-exclamation-marks-in-fiction/dz0pz35q5kxd/2#
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/dialogue.shtml
http://www.writingforward.com/grammar/punctuation-marks/punctuation-marks-exclamation-mark


What do you think?
Are you for the exclamation mark or against using it often?


11 comments:

JennaQuentin said...

I agree with sparing exclamation use. I let myself loose in emails or in comments - where I am more "speaking" than writing, but that's all. Great post! ;)

Loralie Hall said...

Someone was talking about this a few weeks ago and it made me wonder if I was using them and just not noticing, because you're right, they do seem to be showing up everywhere.

So I did a search on one of my novels for ! and... I think I found 1 in the entire 100k words.

So yeah, I don't get the trend either :-)

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Yes Dawn, punctuation marks are like adverbs, only to be used sparingly, but than again, who says? With adverbs, many best sellers are peppered with adverbs and I do love me some exclamation marks!!!!!!! Hee hee, but sparingly.

Thanks for coming across and reading my story on Romantic Friday Writers. It's hard to get anyone to visit as my link goes to Aussie and it's too exhausting to go chasing readers. I was supposed to be in hiatus for a month but thought of writing flash fiction every day. A few are trickling in from members so I'll just have to edit/post.

Denise

Dawn Embers said...

JennaQuentin - Good idea. Let loose in other venues. I do that with text speak and such. I allow some of it for only a couple of specific venues and no where else.

Loralie - *waves hi* I wonder about my writing now that I've seen it more but I am fairly sure I don't have the exclamation mark used much. I do need to cut out a bunch of adverbs in editing though, lol.

Denise - hi again. :-) I noticed the romantic friday blog on the list when browsing to randomly comment on blogs and recognized it. I ended up doing two blogs too for this but should have separated my links cause the second one is getting less attention too.

roxannebarbour said...

This seems to be a hot topic today.
Well done.
(I really wanted to put an ! mark at the end of my previous sentence...)
Roxanne

Angel said...

I try to remember not to use them too often when writing fiction. Thankfully, I have an editor for the books I'm in. I need one for my blogs too probably.:)

Magic27 said...

Many thanks for the "e-flower", I was very touched...
And yes, I cry at very un-cry-worthy films too (haven't seen The Lorax, but I cried in Horton Hears a Who, which was embarrassing). In fact, I've been known to cry at reality TV (even though I barely watch it, usually only catching the end of a show waiting for something that comes on after it), adverts...
Emotions are tough things! (sorry - I think I'm one of your over-exclamation pointers...)

abigailsharpe.com said...

I am completely against exclamation points!!!!!

Hee hee hee... see what I did there?

I might use them if my character is shouting, but I'd rather rely on my words. I wonder if the ebooks you're talking about are self-pubbed, or at least have an inexperienced editor.

Your alphabet blog is fun!

-Abby

Dawn Embers said...

roxannebarbour - hehehe. Thanks for the comment and restraint. ;-)

Angel - I'm sure a few stray exclamations in blogging can be forgiven.

Magic27 - I also cry from certain comedy shows. Like in King of Queens when Carey has a miscarriage, that one makes me cry every time. As long as they get worked out in that crazy stage called editing.

abigailsharpe - I don't usually read e-books. I have some non-published stuff on a web site for writing reviews and such. Thanks for the compliment.

Scribe said...

Exclamation marks - the bane of my existence. Not that I use them, of course. You know me, but I was told by a reviewer the other day, that I needed to add an exclamation mark to a comment my character made. I asked myself why, since the reviewer obviously knew from the character's actions he was excited. Of course, I think I also told you about the business letter rubric I was supposed to use to grade my daughter's work. You know the one that if they used three or more exclamation marks in the letter, they received the full score for that segment of the rubric. Three exclamation marks in a business letter? I am pretty sure no exclamation marks in a business letter is the correct method. Sad but true.

Dawn Embers said...

Scribe - Oh goodness. Three in a "business" letter? The youth already thanks to emailing and text speak can barely put together a professional response at times, let alone encouraging it. Next thing you know someone will teach that a word or two in the letter has to be in all caps.