Friday, April 19, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Question Mark

Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge!

This year, I’m focusing on two themes:  Emotions and grammar,
depending on which letter we’re on each day.

Today’s a grammar day!


Q is for Question mark:  the punctuation mark that replaces the full stop period of an interrogative sentence, often used in place of missing or unknown data.  (?)

The question mark?  Really?  What could I possibly have to say about the question mark?  Well, not much, actually.  Come on, it’s Friday.  I’ve had a long, tough week, and there’s not much that begins with the letter Q, so I’ll keep this brief.

There is one thing I sometimes see as an editor which really bugs me.  When writing dialogue, and the character is excitedly asking a question, do NOT use both a question mark AND an exclamation point.  You think this would be obvious, but I see it more often that I ever thought I would. 

“You do?!” she gasped.

Yes, I do.

Truth is, if your writing is strong, if you’re using the appropriate verbs and nouns—notice I didn’t say adjectives or adverbs—to convey whatever emotion your character is feeling, you don’t need an exclamation point, ever, but especially after a question mark.  And honestly, that’s just poor grammar. 

Use only ONE type of punctuation at the end of each sentence.  Always.  No exceptions.  Ever.

But wouldn't it be nice if we had one of these? 



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just one - check!

Robin said...

LOL on the picture of a ? and ! combined. I avoid exclamation marks in writing. I can't imagine combining both and submitting it to an editor-yikes! (obviously I don't avoid exclamation points in comments)

Nice quick Friday post.

Stephsco said...

I like using double punctuation, but I don't think I'd do it in anything I knew would be published. Just emails and things. :)

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Got it! Really! Did!

Cathrina Constantine said...

Lately I've been learning that too many question marks does not make a good ms. Thanks for sharing.

The Desert Rocks said...

I like that creative combo punctuation mark but there's no room on the old Qwerty keyboard. Sheesh, I wish I used Qwerty as my Q word! LOL

L.G. Smith said...

I love that new question-mation mark?! Heh, I often mix the two when I'm commenting.

But it should never be in a manuscript. I edited someone's story once and they used the combination about two dozen times (not kidding). I think it was a case of accepted social media vernacular type stuff bleeding over into their more formal work. Need to keep them separated, though.

Mark Means said...

I think you're onto something there....

...the Exclaquestion Mark! :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Because of texting and emails, everybody's using them, I see so many errors that transfer from those devices to novel writing. Which actually isn't surprising. Most new writers don't bother learning the difference. Or you'll hear them say, "Don't worry about the grammar, my editor will catch those mistakes."

Poor editor.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I'm an utter grammar fanatic. I hate when people mis-punctuate. HATE.

Happy A to Z blogging.

Christine Rains said...

I wish there were one of those!

mooderino said...

Interesting. I think the double up is usually there to indicate disbelief, as in "Pregnant!?", that presents a very specific reaction. You can immediately tell she wasn't expecting the doctor to tell her that. Eventually I expect it will morph into its own punctuation. An Oh-mouthed emoticon maybe.

Moody Writing

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

Eep. I'm guilty of this. Slinks away quietly.

Ida Chiavaro said...

Do you have a name for that symbol? I like
que-mation mark, perfect for rhetorical questions, perhaps. I am constantly deleting adverbs as I type, they come so naturally to me, but I tend to only use !'s when joking with friends. Thanks for sharing some great writing tips

Carrie Butler said...

That's an interrobang. It was used in advertising, years ago. :)

JeffO said...

Interrobang, FTW.

It's got the greatest name of any punctuation mark, real or imagined.


I love it.

And yes, it has been a long week. You can tell.

Lynda R Young said...

aw, but many conveys so much!!!!!!!!!! yes????? ;)

Rhonda said...

I like your new punctuation symbol. You created it, you get to name it. What will it be called? (so tempting to add the !)