1. caters
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    caters Member

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    Exclamation point usage

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by caters, May 11, 2014.

    I am writing some novels and they have some dialogue that has strong feelings. Here is an example:

    "Oh My God, I am going to have a child"

    I now have a comma there and it is okay and other grammar checkers including the word grammar checker accept it.

    Should I really use an exclamation point after the "Oh My God"?

    My novels have only 3 main types based on punctuation and feeling and some hybrids.

    I have some interrogative.

    I have a few imperative.

    Most of mine are declarative or interrogative or a hybrid of any 2.

    For example "Can you make some mexican food please?" is interrogative because it is a question but it is also imperative because there is a command in the question.

    When should I use exclamatory sentences in my novels? I only use them in dialogue but you know what I am really asking is which words are best followed by an exclamation point rather than a comma or semicolon and the rest of the sentence.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Do you want to use an exclamation point there? If so, go ahead. I don't see anything wrong with exclamation points if used sparingly.

    Also, why is "my" capitalized?
     
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  3. caters
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    caters Member

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    because the abbreviation OMG has the M which stands for my capitalized so I thought "maybe I could just extend this OMG from an abbreviation to a whole phrase keeping the capitalization intact."
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Haha. You must be a teenager. ;) No, the "my" isn't capitalized.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!... it should not be capitalized...

    and, if that line of dialog is from your ms, it needs some tweaking, because it doesn't read like anything someone would actually say... it's too stiff and formal...
     
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  6. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    "Jesus Christ! I can't be ... No, I really can't be pregnant?"

    I like question marks and exclamation marks but I try to only use them when there's no speech indicator telling the reader how the speaking person is speaking/feeling.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's a good rule to follow... but in your second example, i don't see the ? as being called for... or making sense...
     
  8. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    @mammamaia, I'm guilty of this...would you explain a little further? I tend to place ?'s for inflection purposes, indicating a person speaking (or questioning) a statement that is not a question itself...but I get that just because that's how people speak, doesn't make it correct. Is it incorrect to the point that you shouldn't do that ever and instead restructure the wording to make the question you want asked, ie: "No, can I really be pregnant?"
     
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  9. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    She's kind of asking herself the question, perhaps I should have written "I can't really be pregnant, can I?"
     
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  10. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    Hi cutecat22,

    The way you have it here makes more sense to me than what you had before. The way I read it, your original sentence should have an exclamation point.
     
  11. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's where personal interpretation come in. When the sentence was just "Jesus Christ! I can't be ... No, I really can't be pregnant?" I imagined the girl talking to herself and as she said the word 'pregnant' her voice went up and an invisible questionmark floated over her head.

    I get what you mean though, it does work a lot better with the 'can I?' bit :-D
     
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  12. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I understood what your character example was saying and how she was reacting. I also understand that it's not "proper" but is it ever acceptable as a stylistic choice being that it's apart of dialogue or is that a way of expression that does not belong in writing at all?
     
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  13. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Thanks. I guess that's where the confusion comes into it - we never quite know exactly how our readers are going to interpret what we write.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that in dialogue it could be just fine to use a question mark to reflect some people's tendency to inflect a statement as a question. There are a number of ways that it could go wrong--for example, I think that it's inherently humorous, and a repeated joke gets very stale very fast, so you wouldn't want to keep doing it for a prominent character. But it could work.
     
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  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the point is that it can't work with the wording of that sentence... just the 'no' alone keeps it from having any questioning aspect...

    where it can work is with 'statements' like:

    "He's a girl?"
    "You're telling me to go?"
    "Four hundred dollars?"
     
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  16. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    Gotcha. That does make sense. Thanks!
     

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