No Exclamation Marks!

I want to write fiction. Without exception, every person in my writing group has a better handle on this than I. Some have published novels with traditional publishers, and one author currently has her book, The Quaker Café, on sale at Wal-Mart. Don’t scoff, my friends. That’s quite an accomplishment!

Oops. I’ve been told to use exclamation points sparingly. Some writers say that one per book can be considered excessive. I’m in the learning stage and will soon learn to make things exciting and exclamatory without punctuation. Notice that I said “will soon learn” and not “hope to learn.” Writing fiction with no exclamation marks, a minimum of adverbs, and believable dialogue is going to happen.

On Saturday, six people from the Camden Chapter of SCWW attended the annual Rock Hill Writing Intensive Workshop, an event that merits rave reviews. Six concurrent sessions were held during four different time periods, and all were excellent. My biggest issue was deciding which to attend. Fortunately, since the four of us who rode together attended different classes (for the most part), we shared information and ideas on the way home.

Self-publishing is growing. A panel discussion with representatives from both sides of the house, traditional and “self,” was informative and interesting. One panelist, author of Big C, little ta-ta, needed her book by a certain date, and after learning that the traditional publishing route would take a year, she opted for CreateSpace. Her book was in her hands by the October deadline, and she had complete control over the price, design, cover, and layout.

When the author, Janet Kelleher, received her first copies, she noticed an error. In the Table of Contents, a chapter title was listed as “I Continue to Buy Green Bananas.” However, within the book itself the chapter was titled “I Continue to Buy Green Tomatoes.” Unperturbed, the author made the corrections, and within eighteen hours, the edited version was available for sale.

Can you tell that I’m a fan of CreateSpace? I’ve used it twice and have had wonderful experiences. However, at some point, I’m going to write a novel or novella and try to get an agent. Although she’s probably not aware of it, one writer said some magic words that I scribbled down to remember: There are a lot of agents out there. She, Vicki Lane, sent sixty query letters before she hit the jackpot, but once she did, her publishing career took off.

I met some gifted, helpful, and unique people in Rock Hill. I’d already read the work of a few of them, including Barbara Claypole White and Barbara Evers, and it was nice to meet them face-to-face.

  • I read Claypole White’s The In-Between Hour a couple of years ago and remembered being impressed with her scene descriptions. Saturday we chatted about how much we like the word “gloaming.”
  • Barbara Evers gave me a tip about how to change a memoir into fiction. She also taught me about using beats between dialogue.
  • Barbara Lawing held her class at rapt attention as she shared story-telling techniques. From her, I also learned about wrapping trees and barking squirrels.

I’ve heard/read that good readers make good writers. On Saturday, someone added a few more words. “Read, read, read,” she said, “and pay attention to how the author does it.” If I want to get started on writing fiction, I need to do a little research first. I’m reading Elizabeth Berg’s Never Change. Next in my queue in Jane Gari’s Losing the Dollhouse.

What’s on your list?

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
This entry was posted in books, critique groups, writers, writing, writing workshops and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to No Exclamation Marks!

  1. sjanegari says:

    It really was a wonderful day. Lots of Barbaras! And that deserves an exclamation point. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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