Exclamation points, Question marks, dashes and even some ellipses all crammed into one chapter. And I can say that the first is overused, the second is alright, the third is one of my favorite (I can be quite the fan of stream of conscious writing), and the third, I am prone to overuse in textual communication.
So! Exclamation points! They are dreadfully overused! Especially by people on Facebook and in Youtube comments when they get so emotional that they have to end their sentences like this!!!!!!!1!!!1!!!111! It is gross. I don’t know what’s worse: the overabundance of exclamation points, or the ones. There isn’t anything aesthetically pleasing, or redeeming about it. I mean, if you’re going to use a ton of exclamation points, the least you could do is make them all exclamation points.
At most, I may use three, but even then it’s very sparse. This of course is in a text. In a more formal piece of work, whether it may be a short story or an essay, I will avoid exclamation points like the plague. Not necessarily in dialogue, but in the text itself, exclamation points just make almost everything over exaggerated and bubbly, or extremely angry, depending on the text. I find the whole idea of it being bubbly best illustrated in little articles, or other pieces of nonfiction that are giving facts:
The average speed of a bobcat is over three hundred miles per hour.
The average speed of a bobcat is over three hundred miles per hour!
It’s almost as though there should be a little exclamatory remark at the end.
The average speed of a bobcat is over three hundred miles per hour! Wow!
Exclamation marks are one of those things you should use sparingly, they’re like curse words. If you use them too much, it puts a damper on the overall effect of the mark. Thus, changing the effect of the sentence, paragraph etc. And, if that’s not what you’re going for, then not only is the mark not being effective, but you’re not being clear—which, as has been noted, is kind of a problem when you’re writing.
Moving on to the question mark and the other two because I took up a lot of space talking about the exclamation mark: I, unlike Gertrude Stein, see little wrong with the question mark. I think it’s fine. Granted, some people like to overuse that too, but not to the extent to the exclamation point. Things that are meant to be direct questions, without the question mark changes the way the question is read, and frankly, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I figured this would be a very good time to talk about my favorite punctuation mark—despite its lack of acknowledgement. This is of course an interrobang. It’s the hybrid of an exclamation point and a question mark, and it is sometimes disregarded as an actual legitimate punctuation mark. But I like it, and it sure looks better than !? or ?! But since it does include an exclamation point, it should probably be used sparingly.
Finally, to dashes and ellipses. I like dashes. I like stream of conscious writing. It feels liberating somehow. That said, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. And that impedes on clarity. But hey, its stream of conscious—it doesn’t always have be coherent. Brains aren’t always clear and concise right from the start. Still, I like dashes. They can make part of a sentence included where it otherwise wouldn’t be, and they feel, nice, and not sterile.
Ellipses however, can get a tad annoying and very incoherent very quickly…especially when they’re….used… in ways they’re…not supposed to be…used…like this. You stop paying attention to what the words are and everything becomes a jumbled up, incoherent mess.
Overall, some of these marks are important, well they’re all important in some retrospects, some are just over used and should have their numbers reduced for fear of overuse, and therefore diluted in impact—and therefore clarity.