For my next few posts, I’ve decided to focus on certain “writing rules” which are circulating around writing forums causing waves of panic.
No exclamation points!
Naturally, my take on these is just that. My own. There are many writers who may happily disagree with me.
Okay, today let’s look at those horrid exclamation points.
There was a time that novels overflowed with them. You’ll find an abundance in classic literature of the 19th. c. But they later reached their zenith in pulp novels.
Here are a few made-up examples:
1. He entered the room. It was empty! The killer had escaped out the window!
2. She opened her mouth in utter horror! She tried to scream but no sound would come out! She was paralyzed with fear. The man had a gun!
3. “Oh, Maria! You are so beautiful!”
Is it any wonder that a new movement came in declaring the exclamation point over-the-top and childish? Writers were urged not to use them.
Now, many writers are afraid to ever use an exclamation point. Let’s diminish their fears.
True, exclamation points are hardly ever necessary in prose. Avoid them there unless you want to remind readers of the ’60s Batman show.
However, let’s look at dialogue. If a character is stuck in a burning building, “Help!” looks a lot more fitting than, “Help.”
Used very sparingly and in the right places- exclamation points are not the horrid punctuation marks they’ve been made out to be. (perhaps not even in the rare prose)