1. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York

    Cutting off dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Dec 15, 2014.

    Okay, so here is my question. I'm cutting off at mid-sentence in dialogue. Here is what I have so far:

    "No. In fact..." Solomon took a deep breath to stall for time.

    Should I be using the em dash after "In fact" instead of ...? I chose ... to signify the character pausing for a moment (i.e. taking the deep breath to stall for time). Any hard rules here?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    An em dash is used.

    "No. In fact—" Solomon ...

    dash-
    em dash—

    There's also an en dash but I forgot the keyboard command at the moment. The names come from the width of the dash.

    An em dash means the dialogue was interrupted. That differs from trailing off or an incomplete quote, sentence or thought.
     
    BayView likes this.
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,667
    Likes Received:
    5,159
    I agree that if there was an interruption, it would be an m-dash. I'd only add that in the example given, I'm not sure Solomon WAS interrupted. If he faded off rather than stopping abruptly, then the ellipses would be appropriate. It depends on the effect you're going for.
     
    Tyler Danann likes this.
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I agree, it does depend on what you are conveying.
     
  5. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,356
    Solomon has paused voluntarily, rather than being interrupted. Seems like a case for ellipses.
     
    cutecat22 likes this.
  6. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Thank you, kind people. I employ the em dash frequently, but wasn't sure about this sentence. There was no interruption. Solomon stopped himself because he did not want to say what he needed to say. He was procrastinating.
     

Share This Page