- to indicate missing words in a quoted passage
- to let a sentence trail off in an intriguing manner
- in dialogue to suggest hesitation or reservations
Sunday, 27 June 2010
In my occasional and arbitrary series on punctuation, I have reached one of my favourites, the ellipsis. I like it so much I have to be careful not to overdo it, for fear of giving my typescript a fly-spotted appearance.
You can use ellipses:
Lynne Truss writes amusingly and authoritatively about the ellipsis in Eats, Shoots & Leaves, but oddly doesn't mention how handy it is in dialogue.
Dialogue in a novel is not like genuine conversation; it lacks the repetition, the scrappiness and the verbal tics of the real thing. You'd drive the reader mad with a true depiction of the way people speak. No, good dialogue in a novel is a stylized version of speech which yet convinces the reader that it is natural, and for this the ellipsis is invaluable.
My current heroine, Beth, lacks confidence, and at the start of An Unofficial Girl lets people walk over her. One way I show this is the hesitant way she speaks, just asking for people to interrupt. I don't know how I'd manage without those three dots.
Posted by Lexi at Sunday, June 27, 2010