Saturday, March 24, 2012

How many !!! are enough?

I just remembered that I have a blog due! Tough to write a blog when I haven’t really been doing any writing! I’m still researching for a project and research basically means reading, and this was a book on poltergeists!
And in my reading I’ve discovered I really hate exclamation points!
I’m not kidding!
The poltergeist book writer includes so many !!! that it’s distracting. The subject matter itself is enough to make the stories dramatic. He does not need exclamation points!
Kinda makes me wonder how I’ve used them in my blogs. I’ve always felt that if you can’t get the emphasis across without !!!, then maybe you need to rework your sentence. If that doesn’t work, then maybe there’s a bigger problem, so look at your scene. What’s supposed to be causing tension? Use that to make your point not an exclamation point.
There are of course exceptions, and even though I made “exception” plural, I can really think of only one—they’re okay to use in dialogue. Sometimes. For instance, maybe there is more than one way a character’s statement can be taken.
Let’s say you’re having a party. And your buddy brings over that strange girlfriend who drama queens everything. The easy-going, well tanned body builder says. “Dude! Your dog pooped on the floor!” Granted, it’s a big dog, so it’s a pretty big pile of poo. But it’s not big deal. You head for the kitchen for carpet cleaner and a roll of paper towels. That’s when the drama queen pipes up. “He pooped on the carpet? Oh no! How will you ever get it out? That stuff won’t work, you’ll need to steam clean it! Nathan tell him! He’ll have to have it steam cleaned!” Of course you can see the whites all the way around her irises and her earnest expression makes you roll your eyes and chew your lip as you spritz.
So basically, if your character is a drama queen you want to have to have overreacting to something fairly tame, then throw in an exclamation point. But use them sparingly, like hot pepper flakes on pizza. Easy to overdo. I overdid it in my example because I love hot pepper flakes. Clears the sinuses, especially in the spring when I’ve been working in the yard.
Dang it. That reminds me, I have yard work to do. You know what that means? Pizza for supper!


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