Here’s something that I really have to get off my chest:

Stop using exclamation points.

People use exclamation points out of flat-out laziness.  Your ideas come across through your words, not through your punctuation.  If you load up your sentences with exclamation points, all you’re doing is telling your reader that you can’t be bothered to think of the right word, which is insulting to them and not reflecting well on you.

Exclamation points are fine in dialogue, if you’re actually quoting someone who actually exclaimed something:  “I can’t believe you did that!”

Otherwise, don’t use them.  At all, ever.  Find the right words to make your point.

I was cold.

I was cold!

I was cold!!!!!!!!

If you honestly think that the last example is superior, you’re quite possibly beyond hope, but you might want to try living without exclamation points for a month or so.  I think you’ll find that it’ll tame your mind.

I’m not claiming to be Mr. Perfect.  I know that I overuse dashes and parentheses–and even semi-colons (believe it or not); I just happen to cast a dim view on exclamation points because they don’t serve any real purpose.

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