Verna wrote:I use too many exclamations in e-mails--forum threads--personal letters to FAMILY and Close friends--Just not formal writing of any kind, hopefully.
Interesting point. It's all about genres and their conventions.
After leaving the law school where I had taught for 10 years, I sent a fundraising packet to my former colleagues asking for support for the National Legal Foundation, the public interest law firm I run ("public interest = charity--we don't charge our clients and live off of donation from the public). I was worried that they would be put off by the writing style of our fund raising letters, so I sent them a "pre-package" to warn them about this very issue (with a segue back to asking for donations).
This part of the letter says this:
As you read these letters, you will notice that the techniques used for writing a good fund raising letter are considerably different from the techniques used for good legal writing.
You will notice many paragraphs that contain only one sentence.
Or maybe just a fragment.
Many sentences will contain such exciting content that I need to end them with an exclamation point!
BUT . . . even that may not be enough! I may need to do an all caps outburst—maybe even in bold—or insert ellipses for no good reason, or underline OR DOUBLE UNDERLINE!
Once you’ve enjoyed analyzing fundraising techniques, I hope you will pray about supporting the NLF. To that end, I’ve attached a form at the bottom of this letter for you to fill out if you would like to donate to the NLF.
I can't double underline in this post, but you get the idea--there was some doubl underlining in the original.
Anyway, Verna's comment jogged in my mind a very important rule of writing: Each genre has its own rules, rules of thumb, and conventions; and we need to master them individually. This is true not just of family emails, fund raising letters, and Challenge entries, but also of novels vs. short stories; genre fiction vs. literary fiction (and one genre vs. another); one type of non-fiction vs. another type (e.g. newspapers vs. academic vs. trade journals); etc; etc.
I know this class is geared towards basics, but as beginning, intermediate, and even advanced writers search for advice, read "how to" books, or attend seminars; we need to remember to keep this in the back of our minds. In what field or fields do the advice givers have experience? Are they properly limiting their advice to appropriate confines? If not, we need to figure out where their advice can be applied and where it can't.