Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Exclaimed out
This is just a quick post but I have just been drowning in exclamation marks. I have recently marked an assignment that was only 2,000 words long but had 70 (yes that is seventy) exclamation marks in it. And yes, I was sad enough to count them but that is because I became so distracted by the fact that virtually every sentence was ended with one. A cardinal sin as far as I am concerned particularly when writing for children, which this piece was.

For me exclamation marks should be used sparely for added impact. They should be used when you want to shout about something happening. If, however, you fill your piece with them their impact becomes diluted.

Oxford Dictionaries state that 'the main use of the exclamation mark is to end sentences that express: 

  • an exclamation: Ow! That hurt!
  • direct speech that represents something shouted or spoken very loudly: 'Look up there!' she yelled.
  • something that amuses the writer: Included on the list of banned items was 'crochet hooks'!
  • An exclamation mark can also be used in brackets after a statement to show that the writer finds it funny or ironic: She says she’s stopped feeling insecure (!) since she met him.
But even then I would be careful where you use them. I am really going to think about when to use them from now onwards. I had become blinded to them but now I realise how irritating they can become as I read this piece. 

For a start it made me think about the number of times when you are doing an email or a facebook post and you use thousands of exclamations (I am prone to exaggeration by the way) or lots of smiley faces or kisses.

There was a brilliant facebook thread started by Nicola Morgan who had sent a text to her plumber, I think, with a kiss at the end of it by accident. The conversation was full of wonderful examples of cringe making accidental kisses. I occasionally get them from students. I am sure they are harmless but sometimes they can make you feel quite uncomfortable.  But I am equally as guilty. I think it is all related to the fact we often hold conversations via a computer screen or a phone screen rather than face to face so you need to get nuances across and ensure the person the other end doesn't take offence.

Anyway that is off topic, back to the poor old exclamation mark. As I said this was to be a quick post and I am not asking you to never use the exclamation mark when writing but just to think about it. Make sure it has real impact and the reader can concentrate on the story and not the ever breeding exclamation mark!!!!!!!!! (sorry had to be done ;-)  and the smiley face...oh and perhaps a kiss xx)

I heard a snippet of this lady this morning and it made me smile. Here is one of my favourite, if poignant, songs.

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