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tricon7
04-11-2012, 11:38 PM
I'm a bit fuzzy on the proper use of exclamations in fiction. For example, I want to write this:

"The bulldozer pushed again and the huge tree fell with a deafening boom!"

Now, there are several ways it could be written.

1. ...a deafening boom!"
2. ...a deafening boom!"
3. ...a deafening Boom!"

I have a feeling that I may have been doing this wrong.

SomethingOrOther
04-11-2012, 11:39 PM
Here's the proper use of exclamations in that sentence:

"The bulldozer pushed again and the huge tree fell with a deafening boom."

Shadow_Ferret
04-11-2012, 11:44 PM
What somethingorother said!

HoneyBadger
04-11-2012, 11:46 PM
Here's the proper use of exclamations in that sentence:

"The bulldozer pushed again and the huge tree fell with a deafening boom."

Amen, my brother.

buzhidao
04-11-2012, 11:48 PM
Double dog amen.

Susan Littlefield
04-11-2012, 11:58 PM
Triple amen.

Most times, the intent of our writing can be accurately portrayed without exclamation points.

Mharvey
04-11-2012, 11:58 PM
Here's the proper use of exclamations in that sentence:

"The bulldozer pushed again and the huge tree fell with a deafening boom."

Agreed. Never use exclamation points in prose.

You're going to find most are even against using it in dialogue. "You get one exclaimation point per novel. Use it well." is a common refrain. Personally, I'm a little more liberal with it - I'll use it if the character is shouting and, for whatever reason, I don't wanna put a dialogue tag like "yelled/roared/shouted <character>," I'll whip out the exclamation point. Every now and then, I'll capslock every letter in the sentence, though that tends to fall into the "once per novel" category.

buzhidao
04-12-2012, 12:12 AM
Never use exclamation points in prose.

Never start a tidbit of writing advice with the word never. Unless it's "never [obligatory innuendo] on the MS." ;)

HoneyBadger
04-12-2012, 12:15 AM
But... but... what if something REALLY EXCITING is happening?

THEN WHAT? How will anyone know?

(Spoiler: I write in 1st person specifically so I can use exclamation points*, because all rules go out the window in 1st.)


*I don't write in first just to use exclamation points, but boy! Wouldn't that be something?

SomethingOrOther
04-12-2012, 12:20 AM
But... but... what if something REALLY EXCITING is happening?

THEN WHAT? How will anyone know?


Exactly. I think this piece demonstrates how to use exclamation points to intensify climaxes.

Robert Braveman woke up one sunny morning. He walked to the mirror and regarded his strong chin and his emerald green eyes and flowing locks of blonde hair. Emptying toothpaste onto his toothbrush, he brushed his teeth.

"Boy," he said tiredly, "I sure wish that Jenny forgives me. The other day, we both got into a big fight. We've been dating for two years. We met at a violin recital. My performance wasn't good, because I spent the night drinking."

He finished brushing his teeth, undressed, took a shower, put his clothes back on, exited the bathroom, walked to the kitchen, poured himself a bowl of cereal, ate a bite of the cereal, ate a few hundred more bites of the cereal, finished eating, then walked to the door.

He opened the door. "Bmm-thhmmp," said the door as it closed.

A set of eyes rose from the ground.

"Whoa," he smiled surprisedly, "is that...is that...Sarah?"

"I'm Sarah, a girl you attended high school with. As you know, back then I was unattractive and awkward and you laughed when I asked to go to prom with you. I've since become a lot more attractive, and this revelation has surprised you."

A pulse of regret tickled his spine.

Contemptuously and rambunctiously, she exhibited her hand.

Robert regarded the ring. Robert was wearing an Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt, Puma sneakers, and $200 designer jeans. His eyes deliberated up and down her arm.

"How does that makes you feel," Sarah said.

The hot sun lingered in the explicit blue void of the sky, the same sun that has revolved around the Earth billions of times, has provided life for all its creatures, for ages, for eons, the sun that will become a red giant then fizzle out billions of years from now. Why do we, such small creatures on this vast void of a planet, feel the need to bare arms, when there's such a lovely serene tranquil beauty, roses in the spring rain, the laughter of happy couples, to embrace and appreciate?

"I don't care, " he exclaimed lyingly. A cat appeared! It jumped at Robert!!! Robert ducked!!! The cat hit the door!

"Meowwwww," the cat articulated!!!

Robert was scared!!! The cat was dangerous!!! It...wanted...to...attack...him!!!!!

What happened next would change everything.

Sarah gazed with hazel eyes at Robert and turned into a vampire. She lunged at the cat and drained its blood.

"Oh wow," Robert relieved, "thanks for saving me."

Mharvey
04-12-2012, 12:22 AM
Never start a tidbit of writing advice with the word never. Unless it's "never [obligatory innuendo] on the MS." ;)

Mmm... I'd say this is probably the one time it's okay to do so. Been around for many years, haven't seen a single time where using an exclamation point to end a description made me go: "Huh. That actually works." If I see it though, I'll change my statement accordingly.

Exactly. I think this piece demonstrates how to use exclamation points to intensify climaxes.

Gonna give you the "Not Sure If Serious" stare. ;)

quicklime
04-12-2012, 12:29 AM
as mentioned, that just isn't THAT wildly exciting--if you use an exclamation there, your bar fro them is likely to be low enough you have dozens of them in the book....which gets very tiring, very fast. So no caps, very doubtful of italics, and no way in hell I'd recommend an exclamation point there.

buzhidao
04-12-2012, 12:42 AM
Mmm... I'd say this is probably the one time it's okay to do so. Been around for many years, haven't seen a single time where using an exclamation point to end a description made me go: "Huh. That actually works." If I see it though, I'll change my statement accordingly.

She sped down the highway, snapping her fingers and letting her shoulders lean as eargasms reverberated into her soul. It was weird and undeniable; she couldn't help but erect a phantom lady boner at the sonic eructations of Wham!

or

I spent the night watching Cannibal! The Musical and now the trapper song is stuck in my head. I kind of want to eat beaver balls.

or...

(I'm writing from the perspective of a child)

John Bagley ran up behind my sister. Wham! Smacked her in the back of the head. I laughed at first. Little brat, served her right.

Then I saw she wasn't getting up.

There was blood on the back of her head. Claw marks. Claw marks? That could only mean one thing. John Bagley was a were-badger.

And I had to kill him.



...I'm not a good writer. I'm sure if I was, I would totally want to take on that challenge and blow everyone away with my exclamation points in prose...;) (WINK WINK)

Mharvey
04-12-2012, 12:47 AM
I still haven't seen a good use of an exclamation point in prose. ;)

Before this gets too silly, let's just say if you're thinking of using an exclamation point in prose (not dialogue), it's *probably* a bad idea. Do whatever you like though!!!

buzhidao
04-12-2012, 12:52 AM
I still haven't seen a good use of an exclamation point in prose. ;)

Before this gets too silly, let's just say if you're thinking of using an exclamation point in prose (not dialogue), it's *probably* a bad idea. Do whatever you like though!!!

I agree completely. :D!!!!!!

tricon7
04-12-2012, 01:01 AM
Okay, what about the use of italics to emphasize the sound? I see that a lot in novels, and by well-established authors. It shouldn't be done?

Mharvey
04-12-2012, 01:06 AM
Okay, what about the use of italics to emphasize the sound? I see that a lot in novels, and by well-established authors. It shouldn't be done?

That's fine.

Ultimately, the #1 rule is: write a fantastic story, and you can put exclamation points or italics wherever you want. I might blink for a second if there's one that doesn't fit my view of where they should be, but I ain't going to put down a book I'm really into because of it. :)

Heck, pretty sure Stephen King doesn't even bother capitalizing the first letter in his sentences sometimes.

Justin SR
04-12-2012, 01:27 AM
Telling a reader that a certain word should be emphasized with italics is one thing, telling a reader they should be excited when your by using a symbol instead of a good description is not one thing that you should do.

Fallen
04-12-2012, 05:36 AM
Never start a tidbit of writing advice with the word never. Unless it's "never [obligatory innuendo] on the MS." ;)

Agreed. Can't believe I'm arguing on the side of exclamation marks, but 'never' is far too neverish.

Jamesaritchie
04-12-2012, 07:01 PM
I'm not sure what the proper use of an exclamation mark is. I've only been writing for thirty-two years, so I haven't yet found a reason to use one.

Swordfish
04-12-2012, 07:46 PM
My WIP originally had no exclamation marks (except one or two times when a character yelled). On one of my revisions I added a couple of instances where my character is excited (or very upset) and it shows in their thinking with a well-placed !

Still used it sparingly though

RKLipman
04-12-2012, 07:55 PM
I'm not sure what the proper use of an exclamation mark is. I've only been writing for thirty-two years, so I haven't yet found a reason to use one.

:roll:

Lady Ice
04-13-2012, 12:00 AM
Exclamation marks to denote volume is fine. Any other use is basically saying that the writing isn't strong enough so you have to back it up.

DavidMcGowan
04-13-2012, 12:06 AM
If a sentence of your prose looks like it needs an exclamation mark, take it out.

EDIT: Unless you're James Joyce. Then you can do whatever the funk you want with punctuation!