Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Overusing my Favorite!! Punctuation!!

I love exclamation marks! I LOVE them! I use them! I pepper my emails and Facebook posts with them!! I can't stand to not use them!  Am I overusing them?!? Probably!

I read an article that said you should use no more than 2 to 3 exclamation points for every 100,000 words of prose. 2 to 3?!? Per 100,000 words?!? That's like tying my writing hands behind my back! GAWK!!

Is it possible that I can write with such an appalling lack of enthusiasm for my subject? Can I really write an email response:
    "Thank you for your help." instead of my preferred "Thank you for your help!"

Doesn't a person need some enthusiastic thanks? It seems so glib and glum to say "thanks" instead of "thanks!" or the even better "THANKS!!"

Is it possible to update my status with:
    "My application to school is finished." instead of "My application to school is finished!!"

The answer, sadly, is yes. But it begs the question:

How much enthusiasm is *too* much? (sorry, * * are my favorites too).

F. Scott Fitzgerald cautioned: "Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes."

...... oh...... well, true confessional here, I *do* laugh at my own jokes. Sometimes I can't even tell a joke without laughing at myself.

But am I doing myself a disservice by my overuse? Absolutely!

In the words of one blogger:
Too many exclamation points dizzies the eye and weakens the words.

Even in this modern age of e-communication, we can still be mindful of the appropriate, and moderate, use of punctuation. Obviously, what we use in our manuscripts can differ greatly from our casual everyday typing on blogs, emails, FB, Twitter, etc., and while we can hold ourselves to a lower standard of punctuation, we should still be mindful of minding our colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, and the ever-popular exclamation point.



gaylene said...

How funny :)
Whenever I get an email with too many exclamation points, I feel like the writer is yelling at me. But I do appreciate a well-placed exclamation point.

gaylene said...

oh, and I laugh at my own jokes too :)
(and overuse the smiley face...)

Julie Daines said...

non-business emails and tweets and Facebook posts are exceptions.

The reason exclamation points must be used with restraint in creative writing is because, if you really think about it, they are a form of telling not showing.

Joseph Ramirez said...

2 to 3?



:) I really like exclamation points too. I also love em-dashes, and elipses. Darn it.

Scott said...

Very fun post!!!

Erin Shakespear said...

LOL! Love this. Great post, Sarah.