1. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    "?!" - love or hate?!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Noya Desherbanté, Dec 19, 2010.

    Just noticed this in my writing from ages ago; I suddenly became a purist not long afterwards and made more effort to decide between a question mark or an exclamation mark after an excited shout - never both. Has anyone else done this?! Can you think of examples where it's been used well, or badly?! Come to think of it - is it even grammatically incorrect?!?!?!? Gasp - I'm so out of breath!!! :eek:
     
  2. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only places I can think of where a question mark and exclamation mark can legitimately be found side-by-side are in chess notation and in the writing of a character who doesn't know how to write.
     
  3. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use "?!" to express something in between a question and an exclamation - for example, a retorical question which is said with strong emphasis.

    "So he's the one who saved us all?!"

    "What are you doing?!"
     
  4. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I use this if a character is shouting a question.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Use them VERY sparingly lol...maybe if someone is shouting but that's it....don't just use them whenever you want to make emphasis or there will be way too many...as an editor once said about exclamation points, "You only have a certain amount in you, and when you use the last one, you die."... :)
     
  6. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I use them veryt sparingly - and only for something that is both a question and an exclamation. That said, I cringe on the rare occassion that I do use it.

    I also try to minimize the use of ! as it's SOOO overused in eMail and text messages.

    "Hi! I'm going to the store! Do you want anything?! Let me know ASAP!"

    -Frank
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect that if you have to use incorrect punctuation for your reader to understand your text, the text needs revising.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have to say I have never used it lol Or considered it now need to go and check out my punctuation book.
     
  9. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Interrobang anyone?
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've used them both in personal stuff like letters and emails, but one should NEVER use more than one ending mark in a ms...
     
  11. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have used them on forums and while talking in games and such. But never in my actual writing. Unless of course I had written an email and that particular character typed like that(though I don't think I ever wrote something like that. More of an example of why I might use them)

    If I came across ?! in a book I read I would be perplexed and it would probably take me right out of the story.
     
  12. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    You don't need to use them. The tag in sentence of dialogue should be able to convey the excitement or stress on the question. For example:

     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Even better, the context of the moment should make most dialog tags redundant. If your character is shouting, the context should make that clear long before a 'he shouted' tag. This is especially bad when the dialog in no way feels like shouting, meaning you either have to then re-read the dialog to get the 'real' subtext, or the writer doesn't actually know what their character is doing.
     
  14. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    It's interesting working with actors because of the diverse ways that they interpret dialogue, so generally i think it's bad writing to "over punctuate" - let the reader fill in the nuance.

    Generally I think ! for an exclamation, and ? for a question. I think using a "bang" after a question is generally bad writing - i guess if a question is rhetorical (and therefore an exclamation) then arguably it is an exclamation.

    Overuse of ! lessens it's impact.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I am glad you have come back over to the side of good because even Master Samuel L. Jackson says that multi-punctuation is bad, bad, bad. And you know that when Master Samuel L Jackson speaks, people, even Darth Marcellus Wallace, listen.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    At least the majority of actors in that photo are good actors :p

    Or maybe he should be called Macellus Windullace?
     
  17. Leah Woods
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    Leah Woods Active Member

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    I actually noticed that exclamation/question mark in Bosnian books more than in English. Actually, until coming to this forum I've never heard some could actually be a turn off in a book. Then after spending here sometime, I realized there wasn't any need for them. As many have said before me, the context of the story makes it clear.

    But I still find it interesting punctuation point, sometimes I just feel like using it :D
     
  18. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    No! Never even thought of it. I think using them both together weakens their individual impact - rather that strengthening it.
     
  19. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    I need to get editing my WiP, it's littered with them!!!! :O

    I think the reason there's so many ?!'s in this particular book, and I had less of a quandry about removing them from others, is that this book is set in a particularly cartoonish world... full of theme tunes, speech bubbles and overpunctuation. But I have learned that this is wrong... it's still a book.

    Thank you all for some sober wisdom. :D
     
  20. DukeRustfield
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    DukeRustfield New Member

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    You don't NEED to do anything. Like me capitalizing need right there. I could take an entire paragraph and explain exactly how I want a sentence to be read. Or, I could use one character at the end of a sentence and save the readers some time.

    If you want to do it, do it. Language morphs and things change. Multiple punctuation has been around for probably centuries in "funny pages" and comic books. A character going ZOUNDS!!! Even though you got a picture of them doing it so you hardly need it. But it's hard to deny it's effective.

    One thing that it reminds me of is Spanish. Where sentences start with an upside-down question mark if it's a question. I thought that was brilliant. Because in English, if you have some gigantic run-on sentence and you're getting to the end and finally see it was made a question, you have to change your inflection of some words, instead of knowing it was like that from the start.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that in a sense absolutely anything goes in writing. But everything has an effect, and the good writer will be aware of the effects of what they are writing. One effect of all capitals and of multiple punctuation marks is to communicate that the writer is immature or assumes the reader to be. That's fine in the funny papers and in some types of children's books, but it's probably not the effect you want in non-comic writing for adults.
     
  22. DukeRustfield
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    DukeRustfield New Member

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    Assuming you know the inner workings of what any writer on the face of the earth is trying to communicate based on their choice of stylistic punctuation is completely asinine. It's attitudes like this that have tended to turn me off of writer's forums.

    I expect outsiders to say "can't" when it comes to writing and style. But any writer should know there's no such thing. The libraries can attest to that.

    If you don't like it, by all means, don't read it. Purge your personal library of any capitalized monstrosities. Burn them in the town square whilst lashing your back with a scourge. But I feel certain you're going to miss out on some really solid, creative writing just because of...punctuation?!?
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never said anything about the writers intentions, I wrote about the effect on the reader. Not what they want to communicate, but what they actually communicate. If you want to write without regard to your effect on the reader that's up to you. There's a school of thought that one should only really write for oneself anyway. But don't be surprised if nobody else wants to read it.
     
  24. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    It's true, you can do anything you want in writing, it's all subjective and there is literally no way to judge or anticipate the effect on a reader (so hey, everything might have a greatly positive effect, you can't tell). That's why my latest story is written like:

    1t w@5 a d@rk and 5t0rmy n!ight!

    Who knows (nobody) publishers and editors might love the ingenuity and readers may end up loving it! There is no way to reasonably assume this would get old and be seen as childish and amateurish, because you can't tell me how every single reader EV@R is going to react.

    /s@rc@5m.

    But rlaely I mhigt end up wirntitg lkie tihs too.
     
  25. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    I use them more than periods?!
     

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