1. galaxy83
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    galaxy83 New Member

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    question AND exlamation mark

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by galaxy83, Mar 24, 2011.

    Hi everyone,

    I like to think grammar is one of my strongest points when it comes to writing, however this is the one thing that confuses me.

    I have read in previous posts that using ?! should be a rare, if ever, occurence, yet I find myself using it more often than I would like. I only use it in speech, where a character is shouting a question. It doesn't look right to me, but if they are asking a question and shouting, should you use both or settle for one or the other...and if so which one?

    This is the one thing which stops me in my tracks everytime I come to edit. It's as if I don't want it to be there because something tells me it isn't right. But at the same time I don't see another way around it.

    Thanks for reading,

    Nikki
     
  2. Frostcat
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    Frostcat Member

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    There is, technically, something called an Interrobang. It looks like this ‽
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Hmm. I don't think I've ever had that issue before. You should be using a question mark if it's a question and then using other words or portions of the dialogue to convey the shouting.
     
  4. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use "?!" when I'm texting/emailing to show shouting. But when writing a story, you should only use a question mark, and then show that the character is shouting in whatever way works best--describing body language, simply saying "he shouted", etc.
     
  5. galaxy83
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    galaxy83 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I've never heard of an iterrobang before, you learn something new everyday! Trish, that makes sense, I will go through my novel tonight and try and put that into practise.
     
  6. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Avoid using ?!

    I would use a question mark in the case you describe. The tone of the speaker's voice is something that comes through in other ways.

    "What the hell are you doing? Leave me alone!"

    The words can say it all...
     
  7. galaxy83
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    galaxy83 New Member

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    Everyone's advice has been really helpful so thanks. I will definitely be removing all ?!'s from my novel. I knew it didn't seem right I just needed clarification.

    Thanks peeps!
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree that it's not acceptable to use more than one ending punctuation mark in one's writing for publication [unless, that is, you're inserting a written message from a character who would do so, into the ms]...
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spot on. The sentence is either an exclamation or a question. I can imagine the intonation for "You told him my age?" and for "You told him my age!", but I have no idea what the intonation is for "You told him my age?!" The direct speech is no longer just reporting what is said. It is also telling us what the speaker thinks about what they're saying, and that has no place in direct speech: it's an authorial intrusion.

    Incidentally, there is one valid use of ?! other than reporting the writing of a bad writer. In chess it denotes an apparently poor move that might work (and !? indicates a move that looks good but is actually dangerous). That probably doesn't come up often in creative writing, but on the odd occasion it does then the double punctuation is there to be used.
     
  10. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I've always seen the interrobang written as !? when an author decided not to use the actual interrobang symbol.

    Examples: (a) "He did what?!" / (b) "He did what!?" / (c) "He did what‽"

    I think that (a) just looks incorrect. (b) looks correct, but doesn't look like it would fit in wiriting with any semblance of formality (I might write it in a text message or a non-work related email). (c) was apparently a fad in the 1960s, and is as outdated as your Uncle Mike's paisley sportcoat.
     
  11. Alex A.
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    Alex A. Member

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    A) Looks correct because he's asking a question first, but you know its being yelled too for emphasis. I would use it if that sentence was in the middle of a paragraph.

    "I saw you last night! What the hell were you thinking?! You make me so ashamed!" She yelled.

    Without the ?! it would seem as if she asks that question calmly and then returns to yelling. However, I am not an English teacher. I will ask him when I see him though.
     
  12. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I genuinely don't see much cogency in any of the points which argue against the use of this happy arrangement.

    - It is technically improper. It is unconventional/ informal. Tough. You are an artist, do as you see fit. It may backfire, of course.

    - Use words to depict this particular thrust of emotion.. you are a writer after all. As a writer you would be well advised to use the tools available to you. These tools include punctuation points. Very straightforward...The same argument that may be (devastatingly) deployed in defence of the maligned semi-colon.
     
  13. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I agree to a point.

    In the world of fashion, if you can pull off a pink polka-dotted shirt with pinstriped pants (or the aforementioned paisley sportcoat), then by all means, do so! But if you can't pull it off, you'll look rather silly.

    I think the same applies to out-of-fashion punctuation marks. Clothes and punctuation go in and out of fashion, and it takes someone to start a trend either way. Can everyone do it? (no) Does that mean you shouldn't try? (No, but be aware of your own limitations -- if you can't pull it off, try something different.)

    In both fashion and in writing, these are things to try out in the privacy of your own home, and, if you think you can get away with it, maybe show a few people with an eye for the field and see what they think. In both fields, rules are simply trends waiting for someone -- the right someone -- to bend or break them.
     
  14. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Delightfully put.:)
    I agree with all that.
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would it really?

    The words themselves suggest some kind of forceful intonation, and there's the 'yelled' in the dialogue tag for good measure...
     
  16. Alex A.
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    Alex A. Member

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    true, i always second guess things like that.. go look in a book where the character is yelling and uses a question mark mid yell. harry potter yells a lot towards the end of books... but like someone said earlier.. do as you see fit. i suppose an editor will fix it either way
     
  17. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    What!?
     

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