Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, an American author of novels and short stories
Laugh at your own jokes.
– Neil Gaiman, an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, and graphic novels
Wow. Sometimes writing advice is so contradictory. What’s an aspiring author to do?
When advice seemingly contradicts, I find it helpful to approach it from a ‘Yes, and’ perspective. First of all, Gaiman is likely not referencing exclamation points–context is everything.
But, that doesn’t negate the benefit of ‘Yes, and’. Fitzgerald and Gaiman are both right–even if talking about exclamation points. In my writing (and editing), I favor eschewing exclamation points for the most part. However, in the right circumstance, they are positively necessary! But only in those rare circumstances.
What do you think? About exclamation points and contradictory writing advice?