1. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Exclamation Points in Dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by katica, Aug 21, 2011.

    Is it . . .

    "No!" he yelled.

    or

    "No," he yelled.

    My boyfriend and I are having a disagreement on this.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'd go with the first one and probably get rid of "he yelled." :D
     
  3. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    They're both right, but the first is redundant.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The first is correct for an exclamation. The second is equivalent to a sentence ending with a period.

    Use exclamations conservatively. An overabundance of exclamation marks will brand you as an amateur, or as an advertising copy writer.

    He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  5. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    Yeah, the first one.
    But like steerpike said, I'd drop the 'he yelled'. It's kind of redundant, seeing as the exclamation mark basically does that for you anyway.
     
  6. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    In regards to what people have been saying about removing the 'he yelled', I totally agree. Basically your exclamation point is the simplified way of increasing the volume of your character's dialogue.

    Also, I've read that using 'he said / she said' is much more effective in creating writing that flows. Too many amateur authors make use of expressions such as 'he boomed', 'she screeched'... I understand that in certain circumstances a specific word might be more suitable, however I agree that 'said' is nice and easy, and doesn't take the reader's focus away too much from the scene itself.

    Thoughts?
     
  7. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    If your going to include the he yelled with the first one you should probably describe the yell such as "he aggitatedly yelled." But the yelled is really redundant and you could easily just drop is and write another line of dialogue and then explain how he yelled or moaned or so forth.
     
  8. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    IMHO, that sounds much worse than simply "he yelled".
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^
    Just a bit. Exclamation mark, adverb & yelled? Must be a life and death situation...
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    Plus, 'agitatedly' has only one 'g' folks! she said, with just a hint of agitation. ;-)
     
  11. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    I didn't say it sounded good, just that it would make more sense if you really wanted to add in a he yelled after the exclamation. Well apparently I shouldn't type while dozing off or I wouldn't have mispelled agitate in the first place.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is very true, but he said is somewhat of a mismatch with such an exclamation.
    In this case, it's perfectly acceptable to say he yelled or he shouted. Likewise, if it were a question, he asked would be better than he said:
    These are still sufficiently low key verbs to properly hide from conscious notice. What you need to avoid is the "variety" verbs often thrown in by novices who fear repetition, like he screeched or he queried.
     
  13. EMSchell2009
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    EMSchell2009 Member

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    Often in a block of dialogue between just two people, I have a habit of not using many verbs at all. Or simply moving on witht he action.

    "I love you," Melissa stroked his hair, "but thre are many things we need to iron out first."

    I find it fixes the worry over repetition, which doesn't really bother me anyway, and means that it flows considerably better.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You should be using periods instead of commas in that example.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is called a beat, but yours is incorrectly punctuated. A beat is a separate sentence, not a dialogue tag. It should read:
    This may help: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  16. Epic0n
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    Epic0n Member

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    My guess is that punctuation emphasizes the statement; for example:

    1) "No," he yelled.
    2) "No!" he yelled.
    3) "No."
    4) "No!"

    It goes both ways, see. The first still conveys the fact that he yells. As does the second, but it's more emphasized by the "!". The third has no indication that he yells, which is meaningless if he actually did yell. The forth is weak, but it gives the reader the idea that he yelled.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree. #4 is stronger than #2. Example #2 is redundant. If you have the exclamation point you don't need to point out "he yelled."
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Remember that a dialogue piece as shown here exists in a larger context. The context can signal a lot about the tone that need not spelled out in every dialogue turn.
     
  19. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    Both techniques in moderation are useful.

    However, I don't think that an exclamation point replaces the verb "yelled" just as it doesn't replace the words:


    "barked" "bellowed" "thundered" "screamed" "cried" "sobbed" "begged" "snickered" "laughed" "giggled" "boasted" "blustered" "sniped" "quipped" etc.
     
  20. Epic0n
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    Epic0n Member

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    Isn't there a difference, though, between saying something loudly, and yelling? I mean, the exclamation point could refer to many things. Saying something loudly, yelling, even a slightly louder voice in a whispered conversation.

    Adding the "he yelled" makes it clear that... he yelled. IMO it's perfectly fine to say "No," he yelled. because it's clear he's yelling.

    This is actually all in my opinion, so I might (more likely, actually) be wrong :p
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that bit between the parts of dialog is not a dialog tag and makes no sense, since stroking hair doesn't = speaking!... it doesn't 'flow better'... just confuses everything... what you seem to mean is:

     
  22. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Yes, it's punctuated wrong but so are half the things I write. Thank goodness for the editors of the world. However, the idea itself is very sound and a wonderful alternative to using, 'she said'.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If a fair portion of what you write isn't punctuated correctly, the truth is your manuscript will probably never get to a point where an editor is interested in editing it for publication.

    More likely, the editor or agent who is reviewing it is going to note right off the bat that you don't know enough about the language to write properly and send out the rejection letter without getting more than a tiny fraction into the document.

    I know when I was an editor, if the writer submitting couldn't be bothered to learn the most basic aspects of grammar and writing before sending the work in, I didn't bother reading it. The simple reason for this being that I had a lot of stuff to read. Most of the editors I knew at the time took a similar view.

    So if you can't write properly and must rely on an editor, you should hire one to fix your writing before you ever send it off to an agent or editor you hope is going to take on the manuscript.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you cannot write properly and must use an editor, you are not ready to publish. If you cannot fit pipes and use the correct fittings, you are not ready to be a plumber.

    These are fundamentals of writing. You cannot farm them out to someone else.

    I don't mean to be cruel, but this is the harsh truth.
     
  25. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I agree that you need to know some fundamentals of writing to go anywhere and for sure before you send in manuscript you should go over it with a fine tooth comb.

    My point is that posting something on a forum isn't submitting a manuscript. Sometimes we misspell things or punctate incorrectly because we're in a hurry or didn't reread it enough times. Understanding the point of the post is far more important than pointing out every mistake. I felt the idea presented by EMS (with the punctuation suggestions made my COG) was sound.

    And just to be controversial :) I will say that being able to tell a great story and pull all the threats together nicely uses a completely different part of the brain than editing. Hopefully you would find some overlap if you spend much time writing but you don't necessarily have to be good at editing to be good at writing (the story telling part).
     

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