Margin Notes




What I Was Reading:

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, written by Samin Nosrat and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, is informative, readable, and beautiful. I appreciate Nosrat’s ability to be incredibly knowledgeable and accessible at the same time and MacNaughton’s gorgeous images bring the book to life.

As I read, I noticed a number of places where Nosrat inserts an exclamation point in the middle of a sentence (yes, the middle!) as opposed to at the end. Here are three examples:

  1. If something shifts and you sense the zing!, then go ahead and add salt to the entire batch. (28)
  2. Compare this to what happens when you heat or freeze mayonnaise—it’ll break quickly!—and the magic of butter will become clear. (83)
  3. At an age when my primary goal in baking was to eat something—anything!—sweet, this was a minor problem: my brothers and I gobbled up whatever came out of the oven. (97)

What Moves I Notice the Author Making:

  • Inserting an exclamation point into the sentence delivers energy and emphasis to the word or phrase. It adds voice by making it clear the writer is passionate about cooking and food but doesn’t take herself too seriously.
  • In sentence 1 I can practically feel and taste that “zing!” from the added salt. The use of italics makes the word seem like a sound (taste?) effect.
  • In sentence 2 the exclamation point used with the phrase “it’ll break quickly!” feels like a caution. If I try heating or freezing mayonnaise, I know what will happen, and I won’t be able to say I wasn’t warned.
  • In sentence 3 the “anything!” following “eat something” demonstrates that in her early baking days, she would have eaten bad baking rather than no baking. Anything sweet was “gobbled up.”

Possibilities for Writers:

  • Read these sentences as a writer to notice other interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.
  • Reflect on the similarities and differences between the three examples. What patterns do you notice?
  • Use one of the sentences as a model and write an example of your own.
  • Revise a sentence in your writer’s notebook or work in progress by using this move to add emphasis.
  • Look for similar examples of this and other unique punctuation choices in your reading.

Here’s my example:

Imagine my surprise when I opened the front door and found my cat, Charlie—an indoor cat!—on the outside: the wrong side of the door for an indoor cat.

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