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Modern critique-circle editors constantly hammer me on using “too many exclamation points!” while struggling to say such advice in their calmest non-exclamatory voice.  I surmise this to be a modern preference.  But is it good writing?

exclamations

I am currently reading Joyce Carol Oates’ collection of “American Gothic Tales,” most recently re-acquainting myself with Poe’s “The Black Cat.”  What did I find?
Fifteen exclamation points in all!  Three in one paragraph!
“Heaven Forbid!” I can almost hear my reviewers shudder.
I wonder if these modern editors would dare take Poe and editor Oates to task over the perceived glut of exclamations?

How would these modern editors handle a heated argument?  A knock-down drag-out name-calling fest?  The presidential election debates?
I just find it quite silly to insist on a writing style that propounds:
“Help. He’s cutting my arm off.  Aiiieeee.  It hurts,” he screamed.
As for myself, I think I can live with the maxim of one exclamation point per scene.
But one per story (which is a common demand)?  I am not convinced.

I will continue to keep an eye out for this as I read more, especially as I compare older versus newer horror/suspense/mystery classics.  Afterwards, I’ll append my findings to this entry, or revisit later in a new post.

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