When I first started writing I made a lot of mistakes. I still do. I'm also cheeky enough that if I think something looks weird, and I know it shouldn't be there, I'll put it in anyway (my title to this post has a no-no). My major problems stem from bad habits. For example, when writing dialogue, I tend to use a lot of exclamation marks. I know I shouldn't. I know that I'm going to have to go back through my manuscript and edit them all out. But, when a scene is exciting, I forget and fall back into my 'old' ways.
I was thoroughly chastised once by a fellow writer, who read an unedited chapter of a novel I was working on. He counted 25 exclamation points - and that was just one chapter! I'm so embarrassed to admit that! Oh my gosh! There I go again! Ack! I can't help myself!
I love exclamation points. They allow me to express myself in ways that a period cannot. And that is the problem. If I have to use an exclamation point, I am telling not showing.
Exclamation points, along with several words that I've learned to cull from my vocabulary are, unfortunately, a no-no in the literary world. My writer friend told me that editors will allow four per novel. Now, I don't know if that's true, but I can tell you one thing - there is no way in a blue moon that I am going to be able to limit myself to four exclamation points in a 300 page novel. It's impossible! See? There I go again.
For what it's worth, I no longer have 25 exclamation points in that chapter. I have zero. I'm heartbroken. I'm also wondering why my English teacher never told me someday I would have to give up these little wonders. I mean seriously, why make them at all if you can't use them? Who decided to cut them out anyway? I may just stage a protest in defence of the lowly exclamation point. But not now, I have to make sure the following words and phrases are not used either. I will protest their demise at a later date. And yes, I used a few of them in writing this post. I'm a writing rebel. I can't help myself. (I got this list a long time ago from a book on grammar and punctuation in writing. I cannot remember the name of the book, but I kept the list just in case):
Get rid of the following words and phrases:
These are all words that have to be done away with if you are a writer. Some of them are filler words. For example: I just went to the supermarket, is better said - I went to the supermarket. See what I mean? "Just" is not needed.
Lesson for today: Go through your manuscript and weed out the above mentioned words and phrases. Oh, and one more thing - don't forget to get rid of your exclamation points!