The joke is on you if you don’t use exclamation marks!

Tuesday, 5 May, 2009

An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes, said F Scott Fitzgerald, but F Scott Fitzgerald didn’t live in age of 140 character messaging where the exclamation mark makes for a great way to emphasis a point without having to write a novel to do so (sorry, F Scott Fitzgerald).

“Cut out all those exclamation marks,” wrote F Scott Fitzgerald. “An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.” It isn’t actually. When one German starts a letter to another with “Lieber Franz!” they are merely obeying cultural norms, not laughing at their own jokes. Nor is chess notation, which teems with exclamation marks, especially funny. No matter. Elmore Leonard wrote of exclamation marks: “You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” Which means, on average, an exclamation mark every book and a half. In the ninth book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Eric, one of the characters insists that “Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.”

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