Writing Tip: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Be selective–and restrained–in using exclamation points and italics. More than one of these every few pages probably means you are using these visual markers to shore up weak word choices. Journal editors, agents, and publishers will immediately tag you as an amateur.

You might, rarely, create a character for whom exclamation points or the verbal stresses represented by italics is part of her (or his) voice. Even in this case, take care not to overdo it. And be particularly stingy in using these markers elsewhere in the manuscript.


  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I

    1. Thanks for tuning in! Frankly, there is little about writing that I find easy. Much that I find enjoyable, but little that is easy. Some things do get easier with practice, practice, practice—such as spotting misplaced modifiers, and writing smooth dialogue. So just keep writing! And getting feedback from other writers you trust.

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    1. The basic concept is straight forward: an excess of exclamation points and italicized words means you are using punctuation to convey the emotion that should be apparent in the words themselves, the action, and the context.

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