Oct 23 2008
There is never any reason for a novelist to use more than one exclamation mark or question mark at a time.
No matter how excited your characters are, they can’t end their sentences with a string of exclamation marks (“Thanks!!!”) No matter how quizzical they are, they can’t use more than one question mark, either. “Really, B. Mac???” Really. It looks amateurish, whether you’re writing dialogue, narration, titles, blurbs or synopses.
Trios of periods (ellipses) are more acceptable. For example, if you want to make someone sound like he’s trailing off in conversation, an ellipsis is probably an appropriate way to end his sentence. (“Yeah, about that…”) However, ellipses are harder to use in narration. A narrator that trails off will probably raise pacing issues.
Also, please try to avoid using too many exclamation marks. If most of the sentences in a paragraph end with an exclamation, it will probably feel cheesy and distracting. As a rule of thumb, a ten sentence passage shouldn’t have more than three exclamations.