Careful with those exclamation points in your emails; William Shakespeare may not deserve all
the credit, and Ben Franklin gives a few suggestions for Webster's Dictionary. That, and more from the best stories about writing this week.
Let’s get into it.
Stop exclamation point abuse!
If you've ever received a "Thanks!" email, you'll want to read this. Boston Globe
writer Christopher Muther provides a considered rant against overuse of the exclamation point, but concludes that it does have a place in our email conversations. Read the story here
Ben Franklin's letter to Noah Webster.
Four months before his death in 1790, Ben Franklin wrote a letter to Noah Webster applauding him for his reference guide “Dissertations on the English Language.” He requested, however, that Webster "set a discountenancing mark upon" a few common words, including "improved" and "opposed." Franklin urged Webster, "If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them." Lapham's Quarterly
featured the letter
Shakespeare's writing partner.
Writing partners can be a great asset, as long as they get equal credit. Researchers at Oxford University are claiming that at least one of Shakespeare's plays, "All's Well That Ends Well," had a co-writer named Thomas Middleton. BBC News reported that two Oxford University English professors concluded that some portions of the play bore stylistic markers linked to Middleton. Read the story here
Writing about dead people.
Good writing takes good research. And when you write about the personal lives of 13th century monarchs, you usually can't do your research on Google. Author Nancy Goldstone writes on Huffington Post
about the challenges of taking on subjects from the middle ages. Sometimes, she writes, they even talk to you: “It is the inevitable by-product of trying to investigate and write about someone who lived so long ago.” Read the story here
A new site for young writers.
Tribune Newspapers writer David Ulin profiles figment.com
, which is built on the idea of young writers creating and sharing their work with readers and other writers around the world. In roughly 15 months, the site has attracted more than 200,000 users and adds about 1,000 new stories each day. According to founder and New Yorker
writer Dana Goodyear, "Young writers want a place to experiment, to take a risk and get a response, to have that daring feeling of putting themselves out there." Read the profile here.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.