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I was told I should use more exclamation points. : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Metilda
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby Metilda » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:31 am


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DrG2
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby DrG2 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:30 am


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DrG2
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby DrG2 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:35 am


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LMGilbert
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby LMGilbert » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:38 pm


thewordsmith
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby thewordsmith » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:34 am

I would say I lean toward the Elmore Leonard camp. How ridiculous to have some such arbitrary rule as you need to have exclamation points in every paragraph - or even, a la Leonard, X number per X number of words. Of course, Leonard was actually aiming at a restrictive awareness and not saying you should have so many exclamation points per so many words.

The problem with such arbitrary dictums is that they fail to consider that EVERY WRITER has a different and unique style all his or her own and each story is also unique in its own way. It is entirely possible to write and entire novel without ever using one exclamation point. Anyone... repeat... ANYONE who tells you you MUST put a specific number of this or that into a novel is someone to ignore completely. They obviously lack confidence in their own ability to write and cling blindly to whatever 'law' they find.

There are, naturally, teachers, either in school or in writing, or in life, who can share their knowledge with you and help you to make yourself a better writer and/or a better person. But their learning is theirs. You, as the 'student', must take what those teachers have to offer and mold it to fit your life and your world. And, with rare exceptions, any rule lacking flexibility should probably be ignored.

So. Should you put exclamation points in every paragraph? I would guess not. My personal belief is that, by the second page, they would become extremely annoying and distract the reader from the story. Furthermore, if you are asking the question at all, it would seem to indicate that you, too, distrust that advice. Go with your gut feeling. If you are telling yourself that it just doesn't feel right, it's probably not.

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Les And
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby Les And » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:51 pm

Good descriptive narration after a dialogue can replace exclamation punctuation in most instances. I may get some negative feed back on this; however, this is how I like to see student work being done when I am instructing creative or writing elements classes.
Your writing must create a full colour movie in your reader's mind.

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MookyMcD
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby MookyMcD » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:16 pm

If every exclamatory sentence ends with an exclamation point, it becomes another kind of period. If three or four exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation point, your reader knows it is one of the three or four most intensely felt sentences in the entire novel. That has enormous value.

formerlydrbertholdt
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby formerlydrbertholdt » Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:18 am

Don't do it!!!!!

Seriously, though...I tend to use them in informal situations. Just yesterday I noticed my daughter staring at her iPod and texted her: Get off that thing and do your homework! I also use them on here when I'm telling people what a great job they're doing, etc. When I'm writing what I'm really writing, though (how's that for clarity?), I almost never use them.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:13 am

Just don't use them. They aren't needed, and weaken writing.

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wdarcy
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Re: I was told I should use more exclamation points.

Postby wdarcy » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:58 pm

"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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