There are times in literature, indeed in life, when a situation demands more than the usual amount of enthusiasm. When something incredible happens in real life, we jump up and down, we yell, we hoot and holler, and our expressions are usually full of emotion. When we write, authors often indicate this excitement by using an Exclamation Point (also known as an Exclamation Mark).
Let’s say we have a scenario wherein a man is meeting his long lost brother after twenty years of separation. He might say something like,
“It’s so good to see you!”
Perfectly acceptable, in my humble opinion; however, this is where some authors tend to go astray. Let’s continue this conversation, shall we?
“It’s so good to see you!”
“How are you?!”
“Wonderful! You look great!”
“I can’t believe this! I can’t wait to tell everyone!”
“I know! So amazing! How is everything?!”
Ow. My head is now officially pounding.
In effect, what is going on in this conversation is that the two men are yelling at each other. Personally, I am not a fan of a room full of yelling people. In fact, I tend to leave the room in that particular situation. It’s even worse in this case, because it’s just the two characters yelling at each other.
An exclamation point should be used for one reason only: to emphasize a point. To “exclaim” about a “point”, if you will. The overuse of exclamation points makes everything look exactly the same. Instead of the natural rise and fall of a story, it becomes one long yell. How is the reader supposed to differentiate between regular moments and more exciting ones when everything looks identical?
YA novels are often (not always!) salted liberally with exclamation points, presumedly representing teenage enthusiasm, energy, angst ...; however, using exclamation points too often makes a book looks even more ... um ... juvenile. And not in a good way. Oh, and even if your YA novel begs for an exclamation point, please, please promise me you’ll limit yourself to only using one at a time. Save multiples for texting, if you must.
Children’s books usually contain even more. I understand why, but just because kids get excited and yell a lot that doesn’t make it right. The reader shouldn’t have to believe each sentence is as important as every other one.
Of course there are exceptions. Here’s a scenario in which multiple exclamation points work because the characters are yelling.
“Look! It’s a U.F.O.!”
“Over there! Look!”
“Where - Hey, I see it! Cool!”
“Wow. It looks like it’s coming this way,” Jim said, squinting toward the ship.
Pete nodded slowly. “Yeah, pretty quickly, too.”
After a moment of staring at the rapidly approaching lights, the men exchanged a glance of concern, then Jim spoke up. “How fast can you run?”
Pete took off. “All that matters is that I can run faster than you!” he yelled back over his shoulder.
I read a rule somewhere advising authors to limit their use of exclamation points to one per page. I’m not a great believer in writing rules, per se, but I do agree with the idea behind this one.
Can you use better nouns or verbs instead of having to resort to exclamation points?
How about using dialogue tags to indicate excitement? For example, instead of “It’s so great to see you!”, try something like: “It’s so great to see you,” he said, beaming with joy. That simple difference imparts so much more emotion for the reader, as well as getting rid of exclamation points.
Some people use excessive semi-colons; some find joy in dotting their pages with exclamation points. Both tools should be used in moderation, if at all. Their ultimate function is to provide an editor with one more thing to delete or replace.
Okay, everyone. Back to work!
by Genevieve Graham-SawchynFarther or Further?
I had to look this one up, so I'll save you the trouble."Farther" and "Further" are often used interchangeably, but here's the real scoop.
"Farther" is a reference to physical distance. (a long way, distant, remote)
"Further” can be used in the same way as "Farther"; however, it can also be used as a figurative word:
- I drove farther than I ever have.
- "How much farther is it?" (whine my kids in the back of the car...)
as an adjective:
- Nothing could be further from the truth
OR as a verb
- I have no further comment
If you're not sure ... nobody will notice, probably - except an editor! :)
- Hiring an editor can further your progress!
- (And furthermore, I really like that example.)
By: Tracey Neithercott
Maybe because I’m a former copyeditor. But I’m incredibly Passionate about proper grammer and spelling because if you don’t have those things it can be very hard to understand sentences, your reader’s won’t want to waste they’re Time on you’re Book or you even if you think its good.
Editors and Agents too. They don’t like to read submissions from writer whom use inproper grammer or spelling even if you execute the story part good. Plenty of people say that its the storytelling that matters really but its not its a mix of Storytelling and Knowing how to write, that includes grammer and spelling and all that. Writers that submit they’re novels which are chalk full of mistakes frequently are rejected!
See Agent’s and editors’ don’t have a lot of time to waste deciphering bad-written novels; even if they may think the story is better than Harry Potter and Hunger Games and Twilight combined into one sparkling magical war book and even if they like you’re other ideas.
They just don’t want to waste there time making you’re Book understandable to readers. Those are you’re job.
Give yourself with a grammer book some help! Fine a astonishingly good text that can teach you the basic Principle’s of the English language and that you read on you’re own Time so that you can get better at the writing part. Also for spelling. It for some people is worser.
When it’s spelled good and has all the grammer right, you can submit a book that is your best work.
Just between you and I, learning the rules to the grammer isn’t the easiest thing but the good news is that its possible. Don’t loose hope!Tracey Neithercott is a health journalist and former copy editor who writes YA fiction when she should be sleeping. She attempts to use proper grammar on her blog, Words on Paper.
- by Mark Nichol
There are two types of grammar: Descriptive, which describes what is customary, and prescriptive grammar, which prescribes what should be. A tension between the two systems is inevitable — and healthy; it keeps us thinking about what we’re saying and writing.
Allowing mob rule at the expense of some governing of composition is madness, but a diction dictatorship is dangerous, too. As with any prescription, an overdose is contraindicated. Here are some hard pills to swallow for language mavens who require a strict adherence to rigid syntactical patterns at the expense of, well, language:
1. Never split an infinitive.
It isn’t wise to always ignore this fallacious rule against dividing the elements of the verb phrase “to (verb)” with an adverb, but to blindly follow it is to prohibit pleasing turns of phrase — one of the best known of which is from the introductory voice-over from all the Star Trek television series: “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” (The original series, produced before the more recent sensitivity to gender bias, put it “no man.”)
2. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
This rule is ridiculous, to start with. If you believe it, please tell me what planet you are from. What are you striving for? Give it up. Am I getting my point across?
The stricture against closing sentences with words that describe position stems from an eighteen-century fetish for the supposed perfection of classical Latin, which allowed no split infinitives — for the excellent reason that Latin infinitives consist of single words. English, however, being a distant relative of that language, should be allowed to form its own customs.
3. Never begin a sentence with a conjunction.
And why not? For an honorable tradition of doing just that exists. But some people persist in prohibiting this technique. Yet we defy them. Or we simply ignore them or laugh at them, neither of which they appreciate. Nor do they understand our attitude, though we try to convince them, and will continue to do so. So there.
The words beginning each of these sentences are conjunctions, easily recalled with the mnemonic FANBOYS. Every one is perfectly acceptable at the head of a sentence. As is obvious from the previous paragraph, however, a little goes a long way.
4. Distinguish between while and though.
Petty prescriptivists would have you reserve while for temporal usage only: “While I agree, I resist,” they say, should be revised to “Though I agree, I resist.” I freely admit that I often change while to though, and while I understand — I’m sorry, I can’t stop myself — and though I understand that it may seem pedantic, I think though reads better.
5. Distinguish between since and because.
Ditto. And ditto. I concur that indiscriminate replacement of since withbecause may seem persnickety, but since — ahem — because I find the latter word more pleasing, I will reserve the right to prefer it.
6. Use data only in the plural sense.
Where did they get this data? The alternative is to use datum in the singular sense, which makes you sound like a propellerhead. (Look it up, kids.) People who say “datum” get data, but they don’t get dates.
7. Use none only in the singular sense.
None of these rules, followed strictly, allow for a vernacular ease with language.
Did that sentence hurt? Did the waves stop crashing to shore? Did Earth stop spinning? If you wish to replace none with “not one” or “no one” (“Not one person admitted guilt”; “No one saw that coming”), by all means, do so, but fear not none in a plural sense.