Friday, October 21, 2011

But I Want To ...

Ellipsis: (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech or any other form of text.  {credit Wilipedia}

Our local writing group had a crit session last night, focused on short stories we're writing for a specific project.  I had finished a first draft and offered it up for review.  On the plus side, the story, pacing and characterization were well received.  But I had my hand slapped repeatedly for my overuse of...ellipses.
The problems was in my dialog.  The crit conversations went something like this.

Helpful Critiquer:  "Use a comma here, or even a semicolon."

Me: "Um, okay.  But I don't think that gives me enough of a pause."

HC: "Then use a period.  Break it up into one word sentences to show the emphasis on each word."

Me: "Uh huh, I've used that method.  But I don't want emphasis here.  I want hesitation.  Uncertainty.  In my head I hear it like this: 'I don't think...maybe we shouldn't...are you sure we can do this?'"

HC: "Hmm.  Okay.  I see your point.  But you still can't have this many ellipses.  You need to figure out another way to write it."

Argh!

This isn't a new one for me.  I know I have a tendency to overuse this form of punctuation.  But it gives me exactly the dialog pacing I'm looking for.  Who decided we had to limit the use of ellipses anyway?  Such a nice, harmless little collection of dots to incur such wrath.  I once had a writer friend threaten to pull the ellipses from my WIP and beat me with them.  (You know who you are.  *waves*)

How about you?  Do you have a favorite form of punctuation, or maybe a word or a phrase, that does exactly what you want it to do, so that you tend to overuse it.  Even when the rules say you can't.  How do you work around it?

Special note:  Be sure to visit me on Monday when I'll have a special announcement on an exciting new release.

Have a fabulous...uh...weekend.  *winks*

Groaner of the Day: A young man put himself through law school as a semi-professional prizefighter.  He was actually a very good a boxer and was being urged to stay with it instead of becoming a lawyer.  As he prepared to take the bar exam, he knew it was time to make the big decision but he was havng a terrible time.  He just couldn't decide between boxers or briefs.

20 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I too suffer from dot dot dot disease. They're just so ... useful :-)

Maria Zannini said...

One thing you could do is slow the scene down by having the speaker do something in between his dialog. It'll give the illusion of hesitation without relying on the dreaded dot disease.

I'd hate to see you beaten with your own ellipses. :grin:

Stacy McKitrick said...

Frankly, I wouldn't go by what one person said. If you got the point across, what does it matter anyway?

LD Masterson said...

Sarah - exactly!

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I know. But sometimes...

*grin*

LD Masterson said...

Stacy - Unfortunately, it wasn't just one person.

Isis Rushdan said...

I think I have a tendency to use too many em dashes. I strip where I can and where I feel strongly, I'll leave it. Why? Let me editor (when I finally get one :) that is) decide if they should be cut. Just have to pray editors still edit. I think writers get hung up on following every single rule while forgetting one of the most important ones, knowing when to break the rules.
Tell your cp violence is never the answer.

Thanks for voting for me. Big Hug!

GigglesandGuns said...

Ah, so you are a fan of ellipses, the dreaded it disease. It could be be worse and much more noisy. You could be a "well, you know" suffer. They make such racket and become disruptive to the pace.

Joking aside, this could be a tough habit to break. So inhibitive as you write.

Lydia Kang said...

I have been guilty of overusage of ellipses. But I love them! (...) I finally just tossed most of them because I found other ways of showing that hesitancy. It was hard though!

Kay Theodoratus said...

Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned, but I get the same criticism because I use a lot of commas.

Pidg said...

I heart ellipses...for exactly the same reason. I don't work around them. I've tried commas, and italics, and then I overused them as well. I think I just like emphasis...period. ;)

Sarah Allen said...

I like ellipses :) I tend to use 'just' too much. I just can't help it, you know? It just comes out :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

LD Masterson said...

Isis - You're welcome for the vote. And for your vote against violence. (I did think beating up a poor defenseless grandmother seems a little severe.)

LD Masterson said...

Mary - Well, you know, the little ... are just so darned cute.

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Ellipses lovers of the world...unite!

LD Masterson said...

Kay - Way back when, I was accused of typing a page, sprinkling it with commas, and wherever they stuck, that's where I'd leave them. Luckily, I've gotten a little better.

LD Masterson said...

Pidg - Oh good. You can join our...um...club.

LD Masterson said...

Sarah - Well, just join in. The Ellipses Lovers. We'd just love to have another member.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love my ellipses and my dashes. They're not always popular with others - but they express things so well! :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

oh yeah, ellipses definitely have a different pause. I hear you loud and clear there. But i'm pretty good about limiting their use.