- They interrupt the reader.
- They scream amateur.
- They tell the publisher that you haven’t mastered showing versus telling.
- They’re a sign of weak writing. If your prose are good enough the reader will feel the emotion without you pointing it out.
- They force the reader to think or feel a certain way.
But what if your pov character is a total teen drama queen? Use her motions, her body language, her sarcasm, and her dialogue to portray her excitability or her drama characteristics. Trust that your reader will SEE her as an exclaimer. Maybe you could show it in her text messages if you’ve included them in your story.
Stop now and go to your wip (work-in-progress) and do a search and FIND how many of these you currently have. Well? How many? You should only have ONE in your entire novel. FIND and REPLACE the others with a period. Then, take a look at your scenes and determine if you need to rewrite them with stronger verbs to show better emotion. Your readers will be glad you did.
Imagine if you had three exclamation points on each page of your novel and your book was 300 pages long. You’d have 900 rocking moments in your novel. How could they all have the same intensity? They wouldn’t. They’d lose their value and I guarantee the reader would put your book down before chapter five, exhausted from the intrusion.
Michelle L Devon, a professional writer and freelance editor says, “In a novel, the only time you should use an exclamation point is in dialog, unless it is written in such a way that the novel has a narrator speaking to the reader or the novel is written in first person, present tense (sometimes past tense works too), memoir style, and this is not the traditional, common writing style and a very hard one to sell to a publisher, not impossible, but hard. Placing an exclamation point in the text of a fiction novel that is not dialog is one example of something known as ‘author intrusion’, where the author is trying to lead the reader to what they should be able to clearly see by the words and description.
Fess up: How many points did you find in your wip?