Hacking them out of my prose today, I am seeing a direct correlation between a writer’s use of exclamation points and how much she/he trusts the reader.  Trust the reader to get what you mean.  There’s no need to shout about it, assuming the rest of the sentence and the work is doing its job, I tell myself.

The writer Lee K. Abbott gave a talk at Antioch Los Angeles when I was in school there.  I recall him saying that every writer is allowed ONE exclamation point per career.  “And it better be a fire,” he said.  Though I hope I am allowed more than one, I often recall that idea, and try to use them sparingly.

(Search, replace…)

4 thoughts on “Alarming punctuation (!)

  1. Neeks, I do too. In early drafts. They I scrub out what I can. :) Conventional wisdom seems to say italics should generally only be used to foreign words and otherwise very sparingly and only to denote major emphasis on a particular word. (In a previous version of my novel, I had whole sections in italics, which someone schooled me about not using, because it’s harder on the eyes when reading.)

  2. Someday, if you can be bothered to google and have time to watch them on You Tube, there are a couple episodes of Seinfeld that have this as a theme. HIGHLARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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