Saturday, January 7, 2012

Whatever Happened to !

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. ;-)


  1. I know! Seriously!

    An exclamation point means something. It's not just internet speak people. Sheesh.

  2. Outrageous!

    I always thought typing everything in uppercase was considered shouting?

    I guess until they can make a computer that knows how to express the written word exactly as the writer intended, it's going to be open for debate. We all read things differently so I suppose it's going to be an ongoing issue for some people.

    Could this be the internet's version of being PC - everything has to be uniform and god forbid someone be an individual and step outside the box!

    I haven't read Georgette but just for the mere fact that she likes to use ! like I like to use commas, well, then, I'm gonna!