WHY, I EXCLAIM! AND EXCLAIM!

A writer friend once opined that everyone should be allotted a set number of exclamation points at birth, and once they’ve used up their share, they’re done. Can’t use any more. I think that makes far more sense than any recent piece of legislation I’ve seen.

The simple exclamation point (!) is particularly powerful piece of punctuation. Tucking it on the end of a sentence transforms a simple declaration into something more urgent, more exciting, or more commanding. Say, “Go get the dog.”, and your child will slowly rise, amble out the door, and come back eventually. Make it, “Go get the dog!,” and the same child will leap out of the room.

Some people like to put them at the end of every sentence, because they think what they’re writing will sound more important. Nope, just comes across as ranting. Other people think multiple exclamation points add impact to a single sentence. Simply put, using one is a little like raising your voice just below a shout. But putting (for example) three is like yelling, waving your arms and jumping up and down on one foot. You’ll get attention, but that’s because you’ll look like an idiot.

Think of exclamation points as the cayenne pepper of writing. A touch here and there adds heat and flavor to your words. Too many, and you can’t concentrate on the food because of the pain.

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