1. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    "?!"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by John Franklin Dandridge, Nov 5, 2015.

    I'm a big fan of using the double punctuation of ?!, in writing dialogue, as well as speaking in life. Only a screenwriting teacher years ago told me he wasn't a fan. I haven't inquired on it since then. Thoughts?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'll use it when a line of dialogue has the right tone but I would be very sparing with it. It's something that's going to stick out to a reader rather than being nicely invisible. A quick search says I've used it once in a 110k-word novel.
     
  3. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    What she said. Also, I do it !? instead of ?! because it looks cleaner and that makes me happy.
     
  4. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Yeah, I've used it way too much. I just love it so, though...
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I say use them to your heart's content in the first draft then edit them out ruthlessly in the second. I need to get my little writing quirks out of my system before I can wave them a sad goodbye.
     
  6. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I've debated using it that way before. In my head it's a matter of what comes first, the shout or the question? Which has no answer, so aesthetics is the next question. And I can't decide which is cleaner looking.
     
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  7. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't say I'm a fan of the "interrobang," as I've heard it called. To me it seems fairly amateurish, along the same lines as all caps for shouting and adding extra vowels to elongate words (like "Noooooo!"). I'd liken it to outlandish dialog tags--if your writing is strong enough, it shouldn't be necessary.

    Sorry for bringing my raincloud to your parade :)
     
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  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Never considered double punctuation. I believe that exclamation points are over used anyway. Using more of them, especially with other forms of punctuation, isn't my style.
     
  9. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    I elongate words when the scene calls for it...

    (from my second scene in the Workshop)
    I can't think of any other way to illustrate that moment, and the scene didn't seem to suffer for it. :bigtongue:
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This is an interrobang:
    [​IMG]

    Use the question mark and let the exclamation come across by the passage if you want to be grammatically correct. I don't think the convention of using double punctuation or an interrobang has become accepted enough yet to say either convention is acceptable. Use the double punctuation if it is your personal choice and you don't mind looking like you don't use proper grammar.
     
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  11. qWirtzy
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    qWirtzy Member

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    But, the interrobang is a correct form of punctuation. It's not popular, but it's not wrong. It's way older than most people realize and still is a facet of modern typography.

    That being said, I'd advise to use it sparingly, like any special tool.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Correct" is relative. First, do you have one on your keyboard? Second, what does it copy/paste as in another format?

    And just because it looks correct, or a style guide recognizes it doesn't make it an accepted grammatical convention in all circles.
     
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  13. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    No worries, at all. Glad you added that perspective. And since you mentioned it, what about elongated vowels if a person is singing, rather, howling something?
     
  14. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Wow, I love that!
     
  15. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I mean, ultimately it's up to you, but I have a hard time picturing something like that in an adult novel. I certainly can't recall any instances in the last batch I've read.

    I can see it being used in YA (in fact I think the Harry Potter series makes use of elongated vowels and all caps, though I don't remember if I saw any ?! in there), since the target audience is younger. I don't have much experience with YA fiction, so it's hard to comment there.

    I'd say in an adult novel, if you're trying to get singing or howling across, make it clear from the context. It could just be me, but telling me how to interpret dialog through gimmicks like these feels a lot like spoonfeeding. As @GingerCoffee said, let the exclamation come across by the passage. I extend that to, let the anger (spoonfed by all caps) and the howling (spoonfed by elongated vowels) come across by the passage. For adult fiction it looks cleaner and much more professional. I don't know that agents/editors have a preference regarding these things, but I wouldn't be surprised if they shared a similar opinion.

    Of course, if you're self-publishing, especially for YA, then disregard my objections completely. The convention is clearly there, and with self-pub you don't have to appease any gatekeepers. But for adult fiction, I'd strongly recommend trying to find ways to strengthen the writing without gimmicks. Dialog isn't necessarily supposed to reflect actual (real-life) speech, anyway.
     
  16. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I feel like the question mark should come first to designate it an actual question, the exclamation point can be added as an emotional charge. I'm not too schooled to using it correctly.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If by elongated vowels (or consonants) people mean something like, "Weeeeelll", I do use that in dialogue, but only dialogue.
     
  18. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with extended vowels is that they tend to change the pronunciation.

    E.g., the above I'd pronounce (in my head) to rhyme with "wheel".
    Or, "Nooooo", to rhyme with "you".
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Speaking as somebody who tends to over-use exclamation marks, I'd say use the interrobang as sparingly as possible.

    It's not down to 'preference' or not being a fan. It boils down to how hysterically on-edge you want your dialogue to sound. Any over-use of the exclamation mark in dialogue (or internal thought), whether combined with a question mark or not, makes your characters seem excited—which can morph into hysterical, if you use it too often.

    I'd say use them while you're writing, if it expresses your thought, and don't worry at that stage. BUT make sure you tone it down during the edit. A lot.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I love the aesthetic of the interrobang, and given the opportunity, I'd say, "Sod convention!" But, I've never had use for one. Either the question mark or the exclamation mark suffices.

    That said, I d0 recall making a comment on social media, something to the effect of... 'If ever there was a use for an interrobang, this is it.' Unfortunately, I can't remember what I'd actually posted. :rolleyes:


    .
     
  21. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use those on ropes to make it easy to tie things down. :)
     
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  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have one to link my various keychains. ;)

    IMG_0329.JPG

    @GingerCoffee is correct in that "correct" is a very relative term. There are a host of other proposed punctuation marks, aside from the interobang, that all have their followings, and some have some measure of time as propositions, but just because someone says, "Hey, I think we need something to indicate sarcasm. How about this little squiggly thing?" (⸮) doesn't make it a real and accepted part of orthography. And on the flip side, vehement, longstanding, aggressive opposition to something doesn't actually mean it's not a real part of the language. Just look at the trials and tribulations of the word ain't. That word dates back to the 1700's in written record and is probably considerably older and yet teachers across the land to this day cluck their tongues at its use. Poor little ain't.

    Regardless, my personal style is not to make use of these orthographic crutches.
     
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  23. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I'm liking this thread–I'm sure I double punctuate, embolden and go CAPS in informal correspondence, not wanting to lose my flow and all that; I feel it's a quick way to get out emphasis and expression.
    For the more formal, grown up stuff, that may be set before publisher, I'm mindful now that I ought to add some professionalism to my game. I think a couple of examples here that deftly dodge these gimmick bullets @jannert @xanadu wouldn't go amiss?!

    How about it?
     
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  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know that I've ever seen it used in a professionally-published work.
     
  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm sure I have... I can see the page in my mind but not a clue what book it's from.
     

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