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Earlier today, I was at the gym doing some work-related stuff on my computer (Facebook) and getting ready to prepare some staff training material (YouTube) for our upcoming staff meeting (Atlantic City).

Needless to say, I was somewhat disctracted when the owner of my facility, Alvin, creepily crept up behind me in an unnecessarily creepy manner and scared the bejeesus out of me.

With less than his usual cheer, he hands me a document, and asks, “proofread this?”

“Of course,” I say, with all of the appropriate compliance necessary in a person who was just caught Facebooking at work. “What is it?”

A noncommital shrug. “New promotion we’re going to be running.” For someone who generally makes a good deal of money when we run promotions, he sounds less than thrilled about the prospect. My curiosity piqued, I look down at the paper.

The letter head jumps out. “Ah,” I intoned emotionlessly, “Corporate.” While I am certainly not confined to a cubicle, running a Franchise gym still has enough weight from the shackles of a faceless Higher Power to make all thoughts of “Corporate” somewhat less than appealing.

Still confused as to why my boss is being strangely reticent, I read the text.

Suddenly, I could understand his trepidation.

As my first real mentor, over the course of our eight year association, Alvin has come to know a few things about me—certain strange and somewhat irrational idiosyncratic tendencies that I like to think make me a uniquely interesting person to be around (incredibly strange and annoying).

As you have no doubt come to realize, this document was a physical embodiment of one of those strange idiosyncracies.

One of these things is this: I detest exclamation points.

And this document was covered with them; absolutely riddled with the things.

They were everywhere, jumping out at me, stabbing straight through my eyes and attacking my cerebrum with their inanity. They appeared at the end of nearly every sentence, coming faster and more frequently, daring me, tempting me, taunting me with their false promise of excitement. Mocking me.

My blood was boiling, my heart racing. This was lunacy. No one could be this excited about a sale at gym. Or anything. Seriously.

“We can’t print this. It’s embarassing. I’m going to edit this thing.”

UGH.

At the risk of rehashing one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, I truly hate exclamation points. Like…HATE exclamation points; hate them with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.

And not because I don’t think they have their uses—they do (rarely) it’s that people just overuse them, and usually in incorrect ways.

Okay, so what’s my beef with exclamation points?

Well, simply put, they are the sole property of those who lack talent, imagination, or even a modicum of skill with a pen.

In my humble opinion, your use of exclamation points is inversely propotional to your skill as a writer. Okay, maybe that opinion isn’t exactly humble, but it’s sure as hell justified.

It’s taking the easy way out. English is such a wonderfully, felicitously descriptive language, for both speech and writing. We are lucky enough to have created for ourselves a marvelous toolset for expression so vast that the options for conveying a single thought are nearly limitless.

A talented writer can, with but a few keystrokes, imply sarcasm, anger, joy, or any combination, merely by employing some of more subtle means of communication.

When you have italics, boldface, underscoring, et al available, why bother with something so obtuse as an exclamation point? It’s like using a sledgehammer to swat flies.

Here is an example of the blatant idiocy disseminated by Corporate:

“This is the best deal we’ve ever offered!!! Offer expires September 1st! Only till 10PM! Hurry in!!”

Who the hell writes this? It’s like they got some 14 year old on MySpace, and hired her based on the fact that she had a manageable cocaine habit. They could have written “OMG best sale everrrrr!!!!! Haha join now LOLOLOROFLMAO” and it would be been about as bad.

Seriously, it’s really not that fucking exciting. And you sound like an asshole. Oh, great. Offer expires in a week. I must hurry. Or not, jackass.

Firstly, this is bad copy. Don’t tell me to hurry, because that is stupid. It’s a gym membership, not a bake sale. It’s not like you’re going to run out of cupcakes. Relax killer — the treadmills will still be there if I show up a few minutes late.

Ultimately, when you use too many exclamation points you are saying one of two things:

1) I, the writer, am a moron! I don’t know how to adequately express myself! I could just use more words, but I don’t know any! Instead, I’ll just sound really excited! All the time! I wish I knew how to say things better, but I only made it to 9th grade! How ungood for me! I suck!!!

Or,

2) I think that you, the reader, are an idiot. I may be a writer of passing skill, but I have no faith in your ability to comprehend the sheer erudition of my discourse. Whatever means I would use to convey emotion would be lost on you, my poor imbecilic reader. Indeed, were I to resort to more multifacted methods of expression, one so dim as you could not hope to decipher the true tone of my writing. Therefore, being a philanthropist of prose, I will use exclamation points, so that you cannot hope but take my mean. You suck.

All right, that is probably a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

With the occasional exception, exclamation points are generally pointless (no pun intended) and detract a bit from the writing. Those exceptions are generally limited to dialogue, and I suppose there is some merit there.

Even more than I hate single exclamation points, I hate multiple exclamation points.

Not just when they appear all over—when they’re all back to back. The most frequent offender is the triple exclamation point:

“Dude, how sick is True Blood!!! Eric is a beast!!!”

But that’s not the worst of it.

And so, without apology, I say this:

The only thing worse than three exclamation points is TWO exclamation points.

That’s because much like the ellipsis (“…”) often read aloud as “dot-dot-dot” somehow, a triple exclamation point has become sort of accepted as a single punctuation entity.

On the other hand, two exclamation points is just a complete breach of all the writing protocols that have ever existed. Ever.

Two exclamation points is either a typo, or just laziness. Either you meant to type one, and just screwed it up (moron), or meant to type three (bigger moron) and in your breathless haze of excitement, you left out a keystroke (huge moron).

Every time I see something written with two exclamation points, my brain pulls away from my skull and my heart dies a little bit. I swear to god it actually causes me physical pain. Very rarely is life so exciting that you need to exclaim something improperly.

That’s just messed up. It’s like failing at failing.

Learn how to write. Please, for the love of everything right and true, just please stop exclaiming things. You’re really not that excited, I know you’re not.

Just relax.

Oh, wonderful. Just writing about this has gotten me all worked up. Now I’ve gotten myself all excited. I need to lay down.

  • PS – THANKS FOR READING!!!! LOLOL
  • PPS – Just kidding.
  • PPPS – But not really!!!
  • PPPPS – Okay, I’m done.
About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • FCK YA

  • Tim

    I agree they make my heart race.

  • Pingback: A Quick Roman Writing Test: One Easy Tip to Help You Get Published()

  • Shari

    OMG!!!! TOTALLY funny! LOL!!!

  • sal

    “AUSOME”

    “this is a fantastic blog”

    “very creative”

    :) jk…but i agree

  • Per

    @nadia –

    As a fellow programmer, C# being the flavour, I can't help but to wonder:

    “Two it is, I hope the logic doesn’t kill you!!”

    So you *do* want the logic to kill him?

  • Anny

    Brilliant post!! You do realize though that most of us are secretly going to enjoy misusing exclamation points on here from now on. ;)

  • Originally Posted By NadineGreat post (quickly deletes the 3 exclamation marks I had subconciously (unconciously?) put in). I love brackets – am I bad?

    My pet hate is when people (especially weight-loss experts) cannot tell the difference between “lose” and “loose”. There is always some idiot whos main goal is to “loose” 30 kg or who is “loosing” the fat. Loosers (!).

    “Loose” means of low morals or not snug fitting (like the brain inside the skull of said writers?) whereas “lose” is the correct term to use when speaking of weight loss.

    Just my 5 cents worth – use it or lose (loose??) it.

    Yeah, that one is pretty bad. Back when I was writing for a few online magazines more frequently, I was active on message boards and saw this constantly. Would drive me crazy.

    You see it less now, and I thought people were getting smarter (or at least less lazy), but a friend of mine who moderates one of the forums corrected me. It turns out that a lot of the message boards have spell check and auto-correct running to catch stuff like this.

  • Originally Posted By nadiaI use double exclamation marks , to illustrate my knowledge of programming. Since in computer languages ! stands for not. And double negative is positive. If I just type one(or any 'odd' number of exclamation points).Then my message becomes self-contradictory/self-nullified/suicidal/asphyxiated/bludgeoned!!

    Two it is, I hope the logic doesn't kill you!!

    Soon-to-be-(the)-greatest-novelist-in-the-universe

    NADIA

    Actually, I find this really interesting. I have no knowledge of programming, sadly.

    This is a great fun little fact. I appreciate you droping some knowledge–I'm going to try to read up a bit more on that, and maybe I won't hate them as much.

    Let me know when the greatest novel in the world comes out.

  • Originally Posted By CJThanks for sharing your humorous opinions.

    CJ

    PS. I hate PSs.

    PSS. I really REALLY hate PPSs.

    PSSS. I also hate all caps.

    PSSSS. I also dislike repetitions. Really! Really! Hate them!!!

    You know, actually I am not a fan as well. I have no idea why, but for whatever reason, when I started bringing my fitness business online, I was litterally attacked by PS's every email I got.

    I'm not sure why but they are really popular with online fitness guys.

    Mostly, I included them in my post an “inside” joke to make fun of Joel and a few other guys. Evidently, I'm not only one who picked up on it, so my inside joke is a bit less inside.

    Is there a specific reason you hate them, or just a general dislike?

  • Nadine

    Great post (quickly deletes the 3 exclamation marks I had subconciously (unconciously?) put in). I love brackets – am I bad?

    My pet hate is when people (especially weight-loss experts) cannot tell the difference between “lose” and “loose”. There is always some idiot whos main goal is to “loose” 30 kg or who is “loosing” the fat. Loosers (!).

    “Loose” means of low morals or not snug fitting (like the brain inside the skull of said writers?) whereas “lose” is the correct term to use when speaking of weight loss.

    Just my 5 cents worth – use it or lose (loose??) it.

  • nadia

    I use double exclamation marks , to illustrate my knowledge of programming. Since in computer languages ! stands for not. And double negative is positive. If I just type one(or any 'odd' number of exclamation points).Then my message becomes self-contradictory/self-nullified/suicidal/asphyxiated/bludgeoned!!

    Two it is, I hope the logic doesn't kill you!!

    Soon-to-be-(the)-greatest-novelist-in-the-universe

    NADIA

  • CJ

    Thanks for sharing your humorous opinions.

    CJ

    PS. I hate PSs.

    PSS. I really REALLY hate PPSs.

    PSSS. I also hate all caps.

    PSSSS. I also dislike repetitions. Really! Really! Hate them!!!

  • Originally Posted By LizPoophead! I use excalamation points frequently when I write because I am a high-energy person and people say they love to read my e-mails because it's exactly how I am in person, which is happy. I'd muuch rather be around happy people than downers. Must say that your photos are absolutely gorgeous; don't be so critical of us happy folks; many of us have college degrees and believe life is simply groovy!

    Poophead!? You slash me with your words! I am abased and pained =(

    I hope I haven't given you the impression that I'm a downer. Truth be told I am a pretty happy guy. Just because I don't like overuse of a certain punctuation mark doesn't mean I'm a cynical, miserable dude.

    People also tell me they love to read my e-mails, mainly because they are exactly how I am in person–sarcastic and rarely serious. Good natured with a touch of snark.

    As long as you're not tossing double and tripple exclamation points at the end of every other sentence, you're probably okay in my book. Well, I don't have a book, I just have this blog, but you're okay here.

    Anyway thanks for the kind words about the pictures, I appreciate the compliment, sincerely.

  • Liz

    Poophead! I use excalamation points frequently when I write because I am a high-energy person and people say they love to read my e-mails because it's exactly how I am in person, which is happy. I'd muuch rather be around happy people than downers. Must say that your photos are absolutely gorgeous; don't be so critical of us happy folks; many of us have college degrees and believe life is simply groovy!

  • Liese

    Love your posts! I'll be back!! (Who can resist?!?) (Does it count in between two question marks?)

    Teeheehee…

  • Stefanie

    awesome post. love it. laughter in the morning must be good for the soul in some way or another. =)

  • Originally Posted By mattLAWLZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111oneone

    Hahaha amazing. u r teh 1337.

  • matt

    LAWLZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111oneone

  • Michele

    Aw, crap. Guilty as charged. The single, the triple, and especially the ellipsis. Definitely with you on the two exclamation points, though – it's just wrong. Guess I need to be a little more creative… :p

  • Originally Posted By SteveJohn,

    I also don't care for multiple exclamation points, or their overuse, but feel that a single exclamation point used in the right place can do exactly what it was intended to do; make an exclamation!

    Sorry, no offense. Funny post.

    Agreed! As I said, I think there is merit when used in conversation. I am not completely against the use – just overuse. Besides, it is largely a personal thing. As evidenced above, whenever I get excited I just go off on rants and misspell words.

  • Point taken (!). However, I must point out that I never claimed to be good at spelling. I only claimed to be good at using my internet quasi-anonymity to write amusingly about my own issues. I'll try to proofread in the future, and thank you for pointing out the errors =)

  • OMG that was hilarious. Thanks for making me laugh John. Yes, we are guilty of being lazy (myself included) and just not taking the time to write complete sentences with a Thesaurus handy. We all need to be more imaginative with our speech like the Victorian days. Talk about a lost art. With emails and “texting”, everyone has lost the art of the beautiful written language we call English.

    Thanks again for the entertaining read.

  • Brendan

    I'm quite impressed how you can turn a slight bit of strange neurosis into such eloquent prose, that I simply makes me smile. In fact, I believe that it's neurotic tendencies such as this that form the basis of most stand-up comics' material. John, if you ever get bored with the fitness gig, perhaps there's an opening on SNL for you.

    Based on this post, I'll bet there are other personal quirks you could opine on that many would appreciate and catch themselves in one of those uncontrollable bursts of laughter, that otherwise creates a minor disruption in the middle of a quiet office. Thank goodness I have a door.

  • Steve

    John,

    I also don't care for multiple exclamation points, or their overuse, but feel that a single exclamation point used in the right place can do exactly what it was intended to do; make an exclamation!

    Sorry, no offense. Funny post.

  • Sofia

    *Decent and healthy. >

  • Sofia

    I couldn't agree more with this post. I hate when people use exclamation points like that. It just makes you sound like a huge idiot. No, it won't make you sound like you're lazy because no lazy person would bother to write something like this “!!!!!!!!!”. Either that or “plssssss” or even worse “plzzzzz”. =_=;

    I rest my case. There is only one decent solution which is to ignore them. =D

  • Dear Jonathans,

    You did a great job with this post. Very, the, funnee.

    Please don't snore tonight.

    Bai!

    Joel

  • Glad you're all getting a kick out of my strange neurosis =(

  • Louise

    I thought I had issues – wow, did you just get over excited about exclamation marks, I'm sorry but that's really rather funny, I can't believe I just read ALL (!!) of that.

    But then I completely overuse it too, which would explain why I don't really see the problem :-D

    and I got to 10th grade thank you very much!!

    Actually this is hilarious!!!!!!

    time to hit the gym!!

  • Per

    I remember my english-teacher being very impressed with my vocabulary in 8th grade (I'm not a native speaker but rather a fellow countryman of “Eric the vampire”, it's funny that Swedish is their 'secret vampire language') which was primarily due to playing computer games and looking up all the words I didn't understand in the dictionary (Monkey Island, I am forever in your debt)

    It's safe to say that with the introduction of Mil Millington and, now lately, your blog, my vocabulary has expanded a bit more.

    Thanks for the entertaining reading, and I have to say this is by far the most eloquently formulated fitness blog I have had the pleasure to stumble across.

  • Thanks for the kind words and well wishes guys. Mexico is great so far and giving me a lot of ideas for new posts. I'll do my best to keep'em comin.

    Roman

  • Ralph

    John, I figured that you have a great sense of humor. :D With that said, Let the truth be told that I am guilty as hell of over using the exclamation mark.

    Have a great time in Mexico and keep the posts comming.

    All the best

    Ralph

  • I think they should include this in some sort of blogger etiquette packet or something. I'm plastering this on my FB page.

    Thanks man.

    Enjoy the sun :)

    Sirena

  • …touche.

  • Ralph

    This Is Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! I really Enjoyed that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No Really I did!!!!!!

    :D

    ~R~