I hope that everyone who celebrated a holiday over the past week had a great one! I had a wonderful Christmas! It was quiet but lovely! Hope you all have a Happy New Year!!!
I love using the exclamation mark. It is so useful for getting across my extreme excitement over something when posting on social media sites or commenting on blog posts. Casually, I have even been known to string three of them together one right after the other. The point being that they should be used casually.
Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of the tips I have read from several published and non-published writers is to restrict the use of the exclamation point. Some say restrict it to the point that there are none in your novel others say it is okay if you use just one but make sure it really counts. I have to say I have gone with the first set of advice and have made all my novels completely exclamation free.
The advice is given for two reasons.
1- The use of an exclamation mark can be a sign of amateur or lazy writing. It takes the place of showing writing and leans towards telling writing. For example:
Susie was surprised!
Susie’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped open.
2- A page riddled with exclamation points can be distracting.
I will now admit that one of the best gifts I got this Christmas was my new Kindle. I have not actually had a e-book reader in the past. I have always read any e-books that intrigued me on my computer. So after receiving my Kindle, I decided to purchase a few of those .99 e-books so many of my blog, twitter and facebook writer contacts have written that interested me.
I will not name and shame the writer of one of these such books but was surprised to find it riddled with exclamation marks. I also found them as distracting in this novel as other writers, editors and publishers warned they would be. This book is not a self-published book either. The author has thanked their publisher, beta readers, editor and other supporters very graciously at the end. So it was surprising nearly ten (yes I counted) exclamation marks were found on just one page alone.
I am not an expert writer. I am still learning my craft and making many mistakes along the way. I consider myself an expert reader though. I have been doing it for over 30 years now. This was the first time I have ever encountered so many exclamation points in a published novel.
Writers beware – your overuse of exclamation points can kill the enjoyment of reading your novel for others.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever been distracted by the punctuation in a novel?