Showing posts with label ellipsis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ellipsis. Show all posts

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 9: Ellipsis (Jillian)

Today's word is...

An ellipsis (noun) is the omission of one or more words that are clearly understood in context but must be given in order to make a sentence or phrase grammatically complete; a sudden jump from one topic to another; and the marks (as in ...) which indicate such an omission or pause.

When I was a burgeoning writer, I happened across the ellipsis and became obsessed with it.  Not in the sense that it was an excuse to be lazy with my writing, but that as I began to create elaborate scenarios in which my characters journeyed and struggled, the ellipsis indicating pause was poetry to me.  It was the only construction - punctuation or otherwise - that conveyed what couldn't be put into words: a character trailing off in thought, unable to bear contining his thought, a break in the middle of the paragraph that could otherwise sound like the space between the stanzas of a poem, an open-ended sentence that the reader could fill in with whatever he/she chose.  I was, and am, drawn to dialogue that sounds natural, full of pregnant and uncertain pauses and allusions.  Naturally, in the early days, I got carried away.

I have pages from my old high school class journal where my writing teacher, a grammar expert, told me not to use them at all, even though I wrote about how "cool" they were.  In high school, anything you're obsessed with, anything that defines you in the remotest way must be defended.  Ellipses were important to me.  For his class, I did my best to refrain from using them but... obviously... I still love them.  It me a while to realize that there isn't anything particularly wrong about the ellipsis, but that if it's being used in place of proper punctuation, it tends to muddle things.  Used sparingly, and I mean once in a blue moon, it can add just the right amount of nuance, the faintest touch of cinnamon.


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