Ellipsis! … Do you really need it?

Using an ellipsis can be tricky.  I’m not a fan of any type of punctuation that is used too much (think semi-colon or colon) but the ellipsis seems to be something I often must edit from a manuscript.

The most common way authors use an ellipsis is to indicate that the speaker has paused or is searching for his thoughts. This works, but I often find that writers use the same thing over and over on the page until I think that if I see one more ellipsis…I just might throw the manuscript to the floor. I would recommend that you save your ellipses for important moments. Times when you really need or want to slow the dialogue down.

I’d like to mention one more thing…. If your ellipsis ends your sentence, you need three dots and a period for a total of four dots. If your pause is in  mid-sentence, simply use the three dots … to indicate your speaker’s hesitancy.

Periods and commas seem to disappear on the page, but an ellipsis jumps off the page alerting the reader to overuse of punctuation. A writer must always strive to create dialogue and punctuation that will not throw the reader out of the story.

P.S. There are still a few spots left in the Writers’ Boot Camp. The Boot Camp will take place at the Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd, MN, on Saturday, April 20, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The cost is only $15 and includes a gourment lunch. If you live in the Pine City area, I have one spot left in my car if you’d like to ride along. Here’s the link for the Writers’ Boot Camp:  www.bluecottageagency.com

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