Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
When I was an editor, I found myself the heartless eliminator of … exclamation points!!! Seriously, I developed a hatred for them! People tend to WAY overuse them! Not to mention italics and bold, and that oh-so-effective use of ALL CAPS!!!!!!!
Here’s a hint to avoid coming across as amateur: Use the above devices sparingly in writing intended for publication. Even in blogs and emails, be careful. (Although I admit to liberal use of exclamations in email.)
Author Dean Koontz is quoted as saying, “…when we are born, we are granted by God a specific number of exclamation points. When we use them up, it is our time to go.”
If you tend to use a plethora of exclamation points, do a search-and-replace in your manuscript and put a period in place of every single one of them. Yep, every one. Then you can go back and add an exclamation point here and there if you really must. But VERY . . . SPARINGLY. Tell yourself that every exclamation point is going to cost you ten readers. (!!!!!)
Same with other means of artificial emphasis: italics and ALL CAPS. Your writing should be so effective by itself that the emphasis isn’t necessary. Italics are used for specific purposes, such as to indicate a foreign word or a thought that isn’t spoken aloud. As for ALL CAPS, we’re all better off not going there. People don’t like it when you yell at them.
And how about that “habit” of using quotation marks to emphasize “something.” Hey, you all know “what I mean.”
As for bold, don’t ever use it in running text! (It’s OKAY for headers!)
Isn’t THIS irritating!!!!
What are your thoughts on exclamation points and other kinds of punctuation and emphasis in writing?
Every time you use an exclamation point, a fairy dies. Or something like that. Click to Tweet.
Exclamation points! Italics! ALL CAPS! Signs of amateur writing? You decide. Click to Tweet.
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