Friday, April 18, 2008


Thanks for all the posts yesterday, everybody. I liked reading all the comments. Although I was kind of surprised by how many people seriously thought I didn't know how to look up words to spell them correctly when I made it so abundantly not clear at all that I was making a joke. But thanks to everybody for such nice compliments.

Anyway, I will begin answering questions. Today's topic is why the hell don't I ever use exclamation points?

Stuff does not bother me much. People are always asking me if I mind things, and usually the answer is no. I used to get bent out of shape about stuff but now, eh, things tend to work out. No reason to stress it.

I tend to be happy all the time because of this. I'm a silver lining kind of gal. People call me when they feel like crap because they know if there's a positive outlook to have, I'll know what it is. It's my special skill.

This is why I have a nonexistent relationship with the exclamation point. It was recently pointed out to me that I never use them. And as I examine my past posts I realize that it's absolutely true - the exclamation point is a nonentity in my life, kind of like my real dad.

I think one of my favorite benefits from my no-exclamation-point policy is how much it frustrates uptight people. The other day some guy got all bent out of shape and yelled at me because I didn't want to give him my contact information and I just sort of looked at him. And then he yelled some more and I just stood there, leaning. You're a lot cooler when you don't use exclamation points. And when you lean.

Exclamation points are annoying! When you read forty student papers in one day and they use exclamation points at the end of every single sentence you start to want to stab everybody you see! Because they use that form of punctuation to elicit fake enthusiasm! Like when they describe a character going to the store! Or being raped! Or picking his nose! All of these things are very exciting! And by the time I'm done reading my eyebrows are around my hairline!

Ugh. It's just exhausting dealing with all that forced emotion. It also reduces the impact of the symbol when you use it constantly. Chances are if I use an exclamation point, it's a very significant moment.

My thesis director once said, "Your entire writing career, you get two exclamation points that aren't dialogue related. That's it. After that you've gone too far." And although I don't usually take well to hard and fast rules, that's one I find appealing. Rich bottle blonds named Bridget who carry around chihuahuas in a little pink Prada bag use exclamation points. Low key Emily Blakes do not.

So I only use exclamation points in dialogue when characters yell at each other. I almost never use them in prose form. I might go "Wooo!" or "Thanks!" but I'm never going to go "Read my script! It's about zombies!"

That is just too much bouncy fake emotion for me. I prefer to keep it cool.


  1. I can remember you telling us that exclamation point rule in English class back at THS. I never forgot it. And I agree.

  2. The first night I lighted on your site and was going to submit a comment was 2:41 AM Nigerian time and I was supposed to be in bed but up and somehow finding it quite incredible how you are sold on cats, and you know what, in my part of the world, this side of paradise, Yoruba, a cat is much more than the ordinary pet that keeps the rodent away and does not get unduly excited unless, unless… So I was not able to submit the comment, the IP parked up on me and now 'am back and so I say thanx for having something one could read and knowing you are alive to make blogging an art that's worthwhile. Catch ya @

  3. There is an exception. You can use as many exclamation points you want on the 30th or 31st of months starting with the letter F.

  4. There's an episode in Seinfeld (I think season 5 episode 4) where Elaine goes mad because of exclamation points. Just this time she wants it everywhere.

  5. Actually, I "think" rich bottle blonds named Bridget who carry around chihuahuas in a little pink Prada bag use "air quotes" - on words where they make no sense.

    But I agree, exclamation points should be used very, very sparingly!


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