Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

In Defense of Exclamation Marks


Most places that offer advice to new writers will tell you to not use an exclamation mark.

Most of them will also tell you not to use italics to emphasize words.

Because, after all, readers are sophisticated these days and neither want nor need them.

Okay, readership is dying.

Fewer and fewer people read books.

Weeeelllll.

Take the Japanese light books for instance? They are increasing the numbers of people reading books by writing at a transitional level.

The exclamation mark, the italics, and the adverb had a healthy life back in the 1950s, despite radio, tv, and movies.

True, they did not have video games and the internet, but the loss of readership started before the internet.

In the ’50s, books were shorter (at least in genre fiction) and exclamation marks et al were safe.

The popularity of genre was not solely based on sense of wonder.

It was also ease of reading.

Anything that communicates easily and swiftly (anything that does not require the reader to read everything twice to get the gist of it) encourages reading.

If it was good enough for the ’50s, then it is good enough for me.

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2010 by in Janrae Frank.

Janrae Frank

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