Since I acquired minimal computer skills and forged a pathway onto the internet, I've noticed a few things. The one I want to discuss today is exclamation points.
When did the definition change?
There's been a resurgance of Georgette Heyer books recently, along with the requisite number of complaints about all the exclamation points she uses. A couple of posters even asked why all her characters had to shout.
Darlin', her characters aren't shouting, they're being emphatic. That's what an exclamation point used to mean back in Heyer's day, and evidently mine too.
An exclamation point can also define a character's personality.
"She didn't." Meh
"She didn't!" Shock. Horror. Widened eyes. Perhaps hands to throat.
Lots of descriptors attached to that second dialogue when you add an exclamation point.
Ms Heyer wrote of the ton, most of whom had affected talking down to a fine art. I think it fair to say most of her exclamation points occur during dialogue, because that's how these people talked.
Then, while my back was turned, exclamation points suddenly designated shouting. Is it one those unwritten writing rules, like start with the action?
I think exlamation points and their users, in particular Ms Heyer, are getting a bum deal. Since I tend to talk in exclamation points myself, you can understand why I feel that way. And why I love Heyer so much. ;-)