Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Pet Peeve- Ration Your Exclamation


A pet-peeve, by definition, is petty.

After a couple of cheerful posts, I hope I've earned some credit, which I will use today on being petty. I’m aware this will turn off very nice people, some of them friends or colleagues. Feel free to call me petty and, hey, I beat you to it already.

One of my writerly annoyances is the use of exclamation points with abandon, when there really is no need. In fact, the less the use, the more effective an exclamation point is when it is needed.

Like the boy who cried “wolf.” (Actually, he cried “WOLF!” but I was trying not to use the *!*) When a paragraph is littered with exclamations, they cancel each other out. They also betray a complete lack of confidence in the words chosen to convey and have an effect.

Some writing friends have learned to tame this habit when writing stories. But I still get Emails from them that go something like, “It’s been too long! How have you been! I hope you are doing well!”
All right. After one of these^ I’m a little less well. But I recover long enough to scratch my head, moan a little, and give a warm happy answer that does not have a single -!- and, success, does not mention how ***!!!*** I am at yet another one of those.

I know I should be glad to have the communication. Goodness, I should be grateful for any communication. Petty, petty me. Told you.

With immense gratitude to the brilliant Debbie Ridpath Ohi-
See? I’m not the only one who noticed.

Have faith in your words. Ration your exclamation. 


13 comments:

  1. Ah, I've been guilty of this. I think the internets have taught us that everything can have fun swirlies and dancing smilies and - Sparkles!
    And I'll also admit that they can be dang fun, like making little rebuses.

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  2. I don't use exclamation points much. If a character yells more than one line, I only use the exclamation point for the first one and hope the reader gets that it carries over based on what she's saying. I think readers are smart enough to figure that out. ;)

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  3. I remember reading a Judy Blume book that had exclamation points after almost every sentence! It got boring real fast! ;)

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  4. I'm actually the opposite- very few exclamations in my writing, but in my correspondence...lots. And normally I would've ended that with you-know-whats, but I'm trying to be respectful of your pet peeve... =0)

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  5. I'm afraid that...I suffer from...ellipsis abuse. Help!!!!

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  6. Oh, yes, it is my pet peeve too ... sometimes I have the urge these sorts of emails: “It’s been too long! How have you been! I hope you are doing well!” and send them back ... but I exhibit self control.

    So imagine when my novel instructor wrote on a page of my ms: I think I am allergic to exclamation points ...

    Ouch! Alas I abuse the ellipses, the dashes and who knows what else?

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  7. Oh my goodness do I love !!!!!!!. I don't hardly ever use them in my books but emails it's hard to resist. VERY HARD!!!!! *grin*

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    Replies
    1. On darling, I knew I was asking for it.

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  8. ._ hmmm. I tried making a sideways exclamation point, a tired exclamation point, but it doesn't line up right.

    Exclamation points are not a peevish point with me, but I'll try to remember when writing you. Except I refuse to refrain when you have super-duper terrific wonderful news. What's the use of having great news if we can't celebrate by abusing a few exclamation points?

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  9. I've cut down on exclamation points in my fiction, but my emails and social media posts are still very much ailing from exclamation-point-itis. Alas!

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  10. I don't use them much in my fiction, but don't censor their use in informal stuff. However, my favorite punctuation mark to abuse is the em dash.

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    1. One of these days when I figure out the difference between the em and the en dash I will discover that I have been a major abuser. Until then I'll kvetch about the
      *!*, --- ;=)

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  11. Mirka, I am SO guilty of "eclamation abuse," but am well on the road to recovery. The first step in fixing a problem is to admit it, and I've been working on this for awhile now. I just get so excited about things! I completely agree that the less you use them, the more they mean when you do use them. Thanks for the reminder. (I forced myself not to use one here...) = )

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