Exclamation Points. Lose them!
New writers seem to love exclamation points. Whenever I open a manuscript and spot a bevy of these little demons, I moan. It’s a sure sign that the author is inexperienced.
Now, will a plethora of exclamation points keep me from buying a book? Probably not by themselves. However, the overuse of exclamation points is often a substitute for strong writing. Plus, exclamation points are distracting, smack of insecure writing, and yes, will almost all come out in the edits.
So what should you use instead?
Show emphasis with your character’s words and the action he takes while saying them. Take a look at this snippet of dialogue.
John grabbed my hand. “Stop that.”
“Let go.” I met and held his angry gaze. “Now.”
Obviously, there’s emphasis in both characters’ dialogue. However, no exclamation points are needed. In fact, exclamation points would distract from the tension between the characters.
So, does that mean there is never a place for exclamation points? Of course not.
John jumped to his feet and pointed to the balcony. “Fire!”