I happen to like the Exclamation Mark. Most writers say it denotes strong feelings or even high volume (shouting), but to me it is just my preferred alternative to the lackluster presence of a period.
As an example, here is one of my recent comment replies. I could have written it this way:
It will be unfortunate if all your flowers get frozen.
But I wrote it this way: It will be unfortunate if all your flowers get frozen!
I’m sure you understand that I wasn’t shouting when I used the exclamation mark. Did I have real strong feelings? Not really. I just thought that frozen flowers deserved more than a quiet period.
I am, of course, woefully mistaken in my use of the Exclamation Mark. Real writers have horrible things to say about people like me.
Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald –
And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.
– Terry Pratchett –
In the family of punctuation where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.
– Lynn Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, pages 137-138 –
Lynn does, however, offer one faint hope that the exclamation mark won’t languish forever on the top left edge of the keyboard:
…it sometimes seems hurtful to suppress the exclamation mark when – after all – it doesn’t mean any harm to anyone, and is so desperately keen.
– Lynn Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, p 139 –
What to do, what to do? I suppose I could just invent a new punctuation mark – something less dull than a period, but not as robust as an explanation mark. Maybe a nice upright oval, slightly taller than a period. I could call it an eggstol mark, perhaps.