March 5, 2013

Get to the Point!

This story I read about the obsessive use and abuse of the exclamation point in writing reminded me of a great story an old journalism professor told me more than 20-years ago.

The teacher was a grizzled, retired newspaper reporter; he said he got his first part-time newspaper job while he was in high school. After finishing his first story, he handed the draft to his editor to review. The editor read it carefully, sighed heavily and then put a blank piece of paper into his typewriter.

On that blank sheet, the editor typed six exclamation points, like this: !!!!!!

He pulled out the paper, handed it to the young reporter and said, "This is your supply of exclamation points for your entire career ahead as a journalist. I suggest you use them more sparingly."

Lesson learned!

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