Thursday, June 30, 2011

Exclamation Mark!

Question: What’s wrong with using the exclamation mark?

Answer/Quote: “The exclamation mark is often the lazy writer’s way of conveying emotion. By using it, you’re telling the reader how to interpret the line. ‘Pay attention,’ you say to the reader, ‘this is going to be exciting.’ ”

“Instead of relying on this rascal of punctuation, you should choose your words precisely so that they carry the emphasis themselves. Focus on using vivid and striking nouns and verbs that capture the essence of the strong emotion you want to convey.” P. 8.

“While you might not need to limit yourself to the ration of three exclamation marks in a lifetime that editor and writer William Maxwell advised, you should use them sparingly and with good reason.” P. 9.

Comment: As a writing teacher, I’ve always had the habit of warning students to use certain words sparingly: “There,” “it,” “get,” “many,” “thing,” etc. But I don’t think I’ve ever warned students to use the exclamation mark three times in a lifetime. RayS.

Title: “Why Does the Exclamation Mark Have a Bad Reputation?” Brandi Reissenweber. The Writer (June 2011), 8-9.

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