Exclamation Marks

eatsshootsleaves

This was perhaps the single most hilarious sentence I’ve read in years (with the exception of a passage from Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” on libeling someone in your story: “And the best advice I can give you is to give im a teenie little penis so he will be less likely to come forth.”) and if this doesn’t pique your interest in reading a book about punctuation, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends. Yesterday, I had the urge to use an exclamation mark in a scene I was working on, but realized that if the dialogue was good enough and the writing was good enough, I didn’t need to. I shouldn’t have to sound a large foghorn to let the reader know a character yelled something. “In here!” vs. “In here,” he called. Though that last bit goes against another writing tip I try to live by.

File “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” under “Books I Adored.”

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June 21, 2013 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 14

14 comments

  • LOVE Lynne Truss! How could I not? I’m a total grammar/punctuation nerd. :D
    She writes a weekly column in my favourite Sunday paper., too.

    Have a lovely weekend! x

    • She’s a national treasure, that woman. I wish I lived over there so I could read her column. If her book is any indication, the column must be a riot. xo

  • Everytime I write a post I have to go back through and remove ALL of the exlamation marks before I publish. They are so annoying! One ought to rewrite sentences so that the tone of voice comes across with words, not punctuation. Irrating things.

    • Absolutely! (See what I did there?) I sometimes use them in posts (especially when discussing Gary Oldman or something, but I can’t be faulted for that) but I’m more concerned about not using them in my novel. When I see them in a book I’m reading I get all irrationally angry. xo

  • !

    • Best comment ever.

  • I totally snorted laughing when I read that. File it under books I need to read! :)

    • Ha! The rest of the book is equally as charming, I promise. You’ll love it! xo

  • Exclamation points are like similes – please use sparingly. MUAHAHAHA (sorry, I know I’m such a dork)

    • Oof, I’d hasten to use an exclamation mark in my book than a smiley! Posts are a whole different story, though xo

  • i think because i rarely yell in life the exclamation point is a part of my alter ego. in my head i am not yelling, i am just really sincere, or enthusiastic. i over use. it’s true. but now i really want to read this book even more so now. i didn’t know it was about grammar! <—— i actually am yelling that both in my head and kind of not in my head too.

  • I didn’t even need to click on the link to know that you were referring to your post about using the word “said.” So that’s good, right? Right! Har Har. I have a friend (the mom of a friend of Cal’s) with whom I make sure to use copious exclamation points when we text each other. Just to convey how thrilled we are to be getting together. She even has me listed as Lauren! Keim! in her contacts. But yeah, I still get what you mean. ;)

  • Definitely one of the books I adored too. Every house should have a copy.

  • Oh Erin, thanks for being my punctuation sensei. I am a repeat offender in the incorrect use of punctuation, particularly exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!