As an editor, one of the most common errors I see is overuse of the exclamation point. This may not seem like a big deal, but when it comes to submitting your work, too many of these annoying little marks can send your manuscript to the trash bin.
To prove this point (no pun intended), let’s look at a portion of literary agent Chip McGregor’s blog post What Drives an Editor Crazy?
Someone wrote to ask a favorite question: “Are there certain editing errors that drive you
Yes! Of course! Here’s one! Novelists who use exclamation points as their keyboard!
I hate this! Really! What’s worse is the writer who needs to use several at once!!!!
All editors will say a hearty “amen.”
Am I saying you can never use exclamation points (EPs) in your writing? Certainly not, but it’s important to know how to use them properly. Technically, they’re only appropriate when someone is shouting or showing extremely strong emotion.
Example: As three-year-old Susie ran toward the busy street, her mother shouted, “Susie, stop!”
Example: “Don’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t do!” Robert shouted.
In most cases, writers use unnecessary EPs when trying to make a point (pun intended) or when they become very excited about what they’re sharing. I once edited a book that contained over 200 EPs—honestly—no exaggeration. All but two or three were deleted from this otherwise excellent book.
This is one issue that could cause immediate rejection of your manuscript by an agent, editor, or publisher. Don’t take a chance. Limit your EPs to personal e-mails, texts, and social media messages (notice I said personal—not professional).
To eliminate this problem in your writing, use strong verbs and more showing (not telling). Trust your readers to “get it.” Anything in your writing that is redundant (exclamation points, italics, quotation marks, ellipses, en and em dashes, words, or phrases) will wear on your reader and pull them out of your story.
Homework: Go through your current WIP (work in progress) and use the Find button on your toolbar to locate your EPs. You might be surprised at what you discover. Then you’ll be able to look at each one and decide whether or not it’s appropriate. If not, delete it or get busy rewording.
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com and lauramusikanski
It's Not What You Know; It's Who You Know - Assignment 4
1/20/2019 5:44:00 PM by: Bob Hostetler
Stay on Track with a Writing Schedule - Assignment 3
1/13/2019 7:35:00 PM by: Larry Leech
Assignment 2 - Finding Speaker Topics
1/5/2019 7:38:00 PM by: Beth Fortune
IMAGERY–WHEN THIS IS LIKE THAT
12/30/2018 9:00:00 PM by: By Ann Tatlock
6/4/2018 8:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
2018 Writers Charge
2/18/2018 10:20:00 PM by: Cindy
Last Chance - Assignment 7
2/11/2018 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
An Adjective Safari - Assignment 6
2/4/2018 7:30:00 PM by: Denise Loock
Get in the Mood to Write - Assignment 5
1/28/2018 7:10:00 PM by: Larry J. Leech II
Getting Rid of “I” Disease - Assignment 3
1/14/2018 9:37:00 PM by: Andrea Merrell
Curb Your Adverb Addiction - Assignment 2
1/7/2018 7:30:00 PM by: Denise Loock
Appropriate Emails - [email protected] - Assignment 1
1/1/2018 7:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
WHO ARE YOU? - Writing Your Bio
11/17/2017 7:30:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
WRITING IN A PICKLE
11/13/2017 9:45:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
THE NaNoWriMo CHALLENGE
11/10/2017 11:30:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
BRINGING YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIFE
2/12/2017 3:35:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
DON’T LET SPEAKER BEATS RUIN YOUR MANUSCRIPT
2/5/2017 3:43:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
HOW TO CRAFT GREAT DIALOGUE
1/30/2017 3:49:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
AVOID REPETITION AND WRITE TIGHT
1/20/2017 3:55:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
THE QUOTATION QUOTA – ASSIGNMENT 2
1/13/2017 3:38:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
ELIMINATE THE EXCLAMATION POINTS – ASSIGNMENT 1
1/7/2017 3:43:00 PM by: By Andrea Merrell
WRITING ADVICE FROM MARK TWAIN: WRITE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL SOMEBODY OFFERS TO PAY
12/22/2016 3:48:00 PM by: By Sandra Merville Hart
WHEN THE STORY STALLS IN THE MIDDLE
12/20/2016 3:51:00 PM by: by Sandra Merville Hart
WHO REALLY SELLS YOUR BOOKS ?
9/20/2016 3:53:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR 15-MINUTE APPOINTMENTS
9/16/2016 3:56:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
ARRRGH! ANOTHER REJECTION – CINDY SPROLES
9/12/2016 3:59:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
FROZEN IN PLACE – ICEY SELF-TALK TO FREEZE YOUR WRITING
9/8/2016 3:15:00 PM by: By Cindy Sproles
THE BIO – THE FRAGRANCE OF WHO YOU ARE
9/3/2016 3:21:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
THE PAIN OF UNSOLICITED
8/29/2016 3:24:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
REDUNDANCY: AN EXCESSIVE, OPPRESSIVE, PERVASIVE DISEASE
8/26/2016 3:31:00 PM by: By Denise Loock
7 THINGS TO DO NOW TO BE READY WHEN WRITING INSPIRATION STRIKES – EDIE MELSON
8/23/2016 3:33:00 PM by: by Edie Melson
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR 15-MINUTE CONFERENCE APPOINTMENTS
8/20/2016 3:36:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
WHY SHOULD I ATTEND THE ASHEVILLE CHRISTIAN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE?
8/17/2016 3:47:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
YOU NEED A PLATFORM – LIVING A STORY- ASSIGNMENT 3
1/20/2016 3:49:00 PM by: By La-tan Murphy
THE ONE SHEET
1/8/2016 3:51:00 PM by: by Cindy Sproles
11/4/2015 3:54:00 PM by: By Steven James