Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I'm reading a charming book by Georgette Heyer, who wrote over fifty novels and died at the age of seventy-one, two years before I was born. This particular book's original copyright seems to be 1965. I'm mentioning her name because, quite obviously, her books have stood the test of time and nothing I say here will detract from her loyal following--nor would I want it to. The book is a very fun Regency from the "Queen of Regency romance." I heartily recommend it to any fans of that genre.

But, apparently, the rumors are true: they really were enamored of the exclamation point back then.

Nothing had ever been known to disturb the saintliness of Mrs Dauntry's voice and demeanour; she replied, as she sank gracefully into a chair: 'Dissembler! I know you too well to be taken-in: you don't like to be thanked - and, indeed, if I were to thank you for all your goodness to me and mine, your never-failing support, your kindness to my loved ones, I fear I should become what you call a dead bore! Chloe, dear child, calls you our fairy godfather!'
'She must be a wet-goose!' he responded.
'Oh, she thinks no one the equal of her magnificent Cousin Alverstroke!' said Mrs Dauntry, gently laughing. 'You are quite first-oars with her, I assure you!'
'No need to put yourself in a worry over that,' he said. 'She'll recover!'
'You are too naughty!' Mrs Dautry said playfully. 'You hope to circumvent me, but to no avail, I promise you! Well do you know that I am here to thank you - yes, and to scold you! - for coming - as I, alas, could not! - to Endymioun's assistance. That beautiful horse! Complete to a shade, he tells me! It is a great deal too good of you.'
I'll save you the trouble of counting. There are exactly three sentences of dialogue that end in something other than an exclamation point. There are thirteen exclamation points--and one sentence that hosts two of them. Kind of sounds like they're yelling at each other, doesn't it? This continues throughout the book. Every time a character is the least bit excited, angry, upset, laughing, or fearful, they express themselves with an exclamation point.

I think I understand how we got the current wisdom of being sparing with our exclamation points. I don't remember who said it, but I've heard that writers now-a-days get one per career. I'm pretty sure our characters (and our blogs!!!!) (!!!) get more than that, but still. That's not much.

Remember the 70's? The extremes of fashion? Followed by the backlash where no one wanted to be extreme at all? Welcome to the backlash, folks.

If you like exclamation points, don't despair. Wait a generation or two, and they're sure to come back in style.

So what do you think? Are exclamation points like bell-bottoms?


  1. Hehehe bell bottoms :) I hope they never come back. But I like the exclamation point, but I know better than to use it. So I just admire it in private :)

  2. Feels like I'm reading my daughter's writing! Who writes with many an exclamation point!! I love the exclamation point, too! And was rather bummed when I learned I couldn't really use it in my writing! But I'm having fun using it now! HA! I do so hope it comes back!!!

  3. I have several of her books, but mostly audiobooks. So I never noticed the exclamation points. Too funny.

    Yeah, it will be interesting to see how things change and if guys start covering their bums again with the pants.