LET US LIST YOUR BOOK(s) EVERYWHERE ONLINE (onto 212 websites), for only $1 a week.

Author's Name:
eBook title:

One of the first errors I learned about as a novice writer had to do with the use of exclamation points. After penning my first novel, and fortunately, before publication, I was taught by a writing guru that exclamation points don’t belong in one’s narratives. Period.

Here’s an example of very amateurish writing where exclamation points abound. This is not okay! (I just had to put an exclamation point here to make you smile.) It’s actually very similar to several newbie manuscripts I was asked to critique.

She walked into the crystal cave and cried out. In front of her stood a giant elf! He was huge! And his eyes burned with fire! She turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her, and almost fell!

All right, now that you are cringing (I hope), I will stop. A few years ago, I actually edited a manuscript where there were multiple examples like this on every, single page, all throughout the book. Yup. But my young author learned, just like we all do, and she dutifully removed those offensive punctuation marks.

Of course, there’s a difference when you use exclamation points in narrative versus dialogue. Although this example has far too many exclamation points, it’s not quite as awful as adding them in your narrative as I showed above.

Shelby held a silver chain to the light. A heart-shaped crystal dangled below, winking in the winter sunlight. “Look what Uncle Sig bought me!” she said.

Camille jumped up to examine the necklace and Johnny roared into the room, “flying” his rubbery metallic green dragon toward me.

“My dragon flies!” he yelled, zooming it up and down in the air and finally landing it on my shoulder.

“Wow. What’s his name?” I peered down at the realistic reptile who perched on me.

“I dunno,” he said. “How ‘bout…Claws?”

I picked up the squishy critter and looked at him. He did have very distinctive claws and a rubbery mouth that opened when you pressed on the skull. “Claws is a good name, buddy. I like it.”

“Can he come to dinner with us? He’s really hungry!

Camille fastened the necklace around Shelby’s neck.

I handed Claws back to Johnny. “Sure he can. Do you have to use the bathroom before we go?”

“Yes!” he squealed, holding two hands in front of himself and dancing in place. “I do!”

Okay, so the little boy and his sister in the above segment are really, really excited. And it’s probably okay to sparingly use exclamation points in their dialog. In the blue text above, such as those with the dialog tags “yelled” and “squealed,” they are sufficiently clear to let the reader know the boy is being very loud. I would remove the exclamation marks from those segments, at minimum. Frankly, I think one or two per chapter is more than enough. You can show excitement in many other ways, especially by using action beats.

For example, you might say, “He shrieked and ran in circles, arms flapping like an airborne chicken.” Or something equally as silly. ;o)

Remember, as a general rule, avoid exclamation points in narrative, and use them very sparingly in dialog. You don’t want to get the same highbrow lecture I did when I was a newbie, do you?

Now, how do you handle someone shouting in your novel? How about when it’s an inner thought?

What if your character has just stumbled upon the dead body of the one he loves?

(As you know, all inner thoughts are generally shown in italics, except where you use, “he thought,” etc.)

I have seen at least three methods to show this:

1)    No! No! No!

2)    NO. NO. NO.

3)   “No, no, no!” he thought.

Some folks use upper case to stand in for exclamation points. I’ve used that approach a few times in my own work. What do you think? List your comments below, and if you have any examples you’d like to discuss, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Remember to take pleasure in the little things. And if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

www.lazarbooks.com

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, thrillers, love stories, and writing guides, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming releases, THE SEACROFT: a love story and DEVIL’S CREEK.

 

Aaron Paul Lazar, copyright 2015

 

 

 

Views: 36

Tags: advice, editing, exclamation, novels, points, writing

Comment by Micki Peluso on February 12, 2015 at 1:55pm

Great post. I had to wean myself off exclamation points too and it was a painful withdrawal. I never used them in narratives but did in other stories. I think the clipped jargon we've grown to using in cyberchats and texting makes things so much more difficult. I'm a humorist and suddenly I feel compelled to write 'lol' after something funny, when for 30 years of writing the humor spoke for itself. The other no-no that has gone the way of the dinosaur is the semi-colon and colon only for lists of things. Hard habits to break. Thanks for a great blog on this subject.

Comment

You need to be a member of Indie Writers Support to add comments!

Join Indie Writers Support

Badge

Loading…

Call us Toll-Free at (888) 852-4901.


Listed below are the many things that you can do with the Indie Writers Support network



OnlyWire - Publish everywhere


Forum

Free e-book promo!

Started by Tim Murray in AUTHOR'S BOARD Sep 24. 0 Replies

I just made my E-book, Thumar, Free on Kindle and smashwords. This is a three week promotion to get it in the hands of many more readers, Check it out.Continue

New member and newly published!

Started by Tim Murray in INTRODUCTIONS & WELCOMES. Last reply by Linda Barnett-Johnson Sep 12. 1 Reply

My name is Tim Murray and I recently self-published my first Sci-fi novel, Thumar!I am excited to explore the tools that Indie writers offers. I'm presently mucking my way through self-marketing.You can discover my offering on…Continue

Hidden Ones

Started by Marcia Fine in AUTHOR'S BOARD Sep 12. 0 Replies

Continue

How to be everywhere at once by Marcia Fine

Started by Marcia Fine in WRITING DISCUSSIONS Sep 12. 0 Replies

Donis Casey blog MARKETING MAGIC: How to Be Everywhere at Once by Marcia FineYou’ve written your book— those pesky typos are at a minimum, your friends think it’s great and the cover is catchy. So how do you get others besides your family to…Continue

A Jewish Exploration of Mexico City

Started by Marcia Fine in WRITING DISCUSSIONS Sep 12. 0 Replies

A Jewish Exploration of Mexico City By Marcia Fine Special to the Phoenix Jewish NewsMy research for historical accuracy in my novels has led me around the world, including Israel, France, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic. After the success of…Continue

Introduction

Started by Linda Barnett-Johnson in INTRODUCTIONS & WELCOMES Sep 12. 0 Replies

I'm Linda Barnett-Johnson, Virtual Assistant for Authors. I will post for my authors, their books and anything else that will help them. I look forward to getting to know you all. I live in beautiful Montana. We have a vegetable garden, adding a new…Continue

Tags: assistant, virtual, introduction

New here

Started by Jennifer Robins in INTRODUCTIONS & WELCOMES Apr 22. 0 Replies

Thanks for inviting me. I have several novels, short stories and novella's. They are all on my website. www.jenniferrobins.com.I will get more involved later.Thank you again,Jennifer RobinsContinue

Tags: mystery., suspense, romance, Paranormal

Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You?

Started by Rosaria Calafati in PRIVATE REVIEW TEAM FORUM Apr 14. 0 Replies

Please review for me! This beautiful story is about a bald princess who learns how to believe in herself through her adventures.

Ella The Enchanted Princess Who Are You?

Started by Rosaria Calafati in INTRODUCTIONS & WELCOMES Apr 14. 0 Replies

I am a new author and illustrator. I wrote a beautiful book about a bald princess. This book was written to teach children to believe in themselves. Looking for reviews! Thanks Rosaria

Events

Welcome to indiewritersupport.com. Our mission is to expose talented writers, either self-published or not, to a mass of book readers.

© 2017   Created by Judd Miller.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Live Support


Indie Writers Support