How’s it going for you so far this week? An article popped in my email from Google Alerts a week or so ago (which should be the subject of another post, but we’ll move on for now).
Anyway, the article asked whether people should stop using exclamation points at work in their emails. Turns out this thing was a personality piece about how women behave in the workplace, so I was taken in a totally different direction.
Here I’m going to go into where I thought they were going with it.
Yes, I think we should stop using “!” in work emails, sales emails, any other type of email, and probably fiction too. Why?
It’s the only piece of punctuation that screams “Here I am!” and also tells readers you don’t trust them. Since it’s the text equivalent of shouting, it also gets tiring after:
“What are you doing here!”
“I don’t know, I just thought I’d stop by for a visit. I’m so excited!”
…And so on, so forth.
And I didn’t come up with this idea–Renni Browne and Dave King did in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. But I couldn’t figure out where, despite scouring the book.
I don’t personally have a problem with “!” because of that book, but other writers (or readers) might. That’s not to brag–it’s just that I learned early on to treat “!” as a rabid raccoon–something you don’t want to get close to or interact with unless you absolutely have to.
If you want to make the case that exclamation points are common language (like reading a gossip rag to get a feel for how certain people like to be persuaded), you can.
I prefer not to use them because action words, tags, and what-have-ya can do the job a lot better than !!! can.
And if you want to drop me a line in the comments to jaw about exclamation points, you’re welcome to do that, too.
Until next time,