What’s the Point?

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Out for a hike on a mid-summer’s day, you fall into an old abandoned mine shaft. A deadly viper rattles a warning only a few inches from your feet. Which of us would not yell for help?

Not “help.” But, instead, a top-of-your-lungs-blood-curdling-cry-so-that-someone-will-rescue-you kind of “HELP!”

On occasion, I want to use an exclamation point in my writing. But, I hesitate to do so because of current advice I hear in the writing community.

As my finger is poised over the ! key, the little writing dictator on my shoulder reminds me that using that particular character is a big “no-no.”

Now, I agree that the overuse of an exclamation point can be a crutch. (“Oh, how pretty! He’s so nice! I love your dress!) If one relies on it too heavily, excellent descriptive writing can go by the wayside and our writing can become one meaningless ! after another.

But, using it once in awhile—in special circumstances—seems right. In fact, not using it, would be downright “wrong.”

So, my suggestion is that we consider each circumstance on its own merits. If we can do a great job of writing by using other descriptive words in order to paint a vivid/emotional picture for our readers, then that is what we should do. Leave the exclamation point for more dramatic occasions.

But, if there are instances in which our character would most assuredly be screaming or very emotional, then we should use our best discretion, and use the exclamation point in certain—and very limited—instances.

And, that’s my point!

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