Punctuation (!)

I've been thinking about punctuation. Maybe it's because I'm reading a couple of books that have, in my opinion, far too many exclamation marks, which should be, I think,  used sparingly. When numerous exclamation marks appear, it become exhausting to read that book. The sentences with this kind of punctuation are infused with unnecessary energy, and the writing becomes choppy, I find myself adding a “mental twang” to these sentences, trying give them the emphasis they would have said aloud. But instead of being exuberant, the writing ends up sounding amateurish to me.

And, since I'm talking about punctuation, I read an article a bit ago that said the period was falling out of favor with those who used texting and social media. Instead of a perfectly innocent way to end a sentence, it has taken on a rather aloof, if not antagonistic demeanor. For example: “Your reason for missing the play was a good one, I understand why you couldn't make it.”

Or: “Your reason for missing the play was a good one, I understand why you couldn't make it!”

The second sentence sounds more friendly, I must admit. And I find myself peppering my social media messages with exclamation marks, just like anyone else. However, perhaps using numerous exclamation marks isn't as bad as it sounds. Communicating solely by text is different, we can't add tone of voice of facial expression to our words; these conversations need all the help they can get.

However, books are more formal (at least they ought to be) so I'm in favor of keeping exclamation marks out of my prose. I have more time and freedom to build my writing's tone, and I won't need them much. But if this trend continues, perhaps someday the exclamation mark will be the new period! And all our sentences with be brimming with giddy goodwill! Why, they will be positively hyperactive, and I'm not sure I'm looking forward to that!

So, what do you think about the overused exclamation mark?!


  1. I haven't had too much experience with overused exclamation marks, but I do often find random question marks, especially when beta reading. For some reason authors feel the need to tack question marks onto the end of sentences that aren't questions? << like that.

    Oh, I could go on forever about all kinds of misused punctuation, but I'll spare you that rant. :)


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