1. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    Dean koontz's use of ellipses

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jakeybum, Aug 16, 2015.

    From Watchers, by Dean Koontz

    Mr. Koontz uses the ellipsis below, I believe, as a second(s)-long pause. Am I correct in my interpretation of this usage?

    “He’s a . . . policeman.”
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Is he a policeman?

    When I read a sentence like that, it sounds the same in my head as,

    He's a "policeman."

    making it sound sarcastic.
     
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  3. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    It could be sarcasm, too.

    But wouldn't it have been written with a question mark as:

    “He's a . . . policeman?"

    Thanks, Aaron DC.
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether or not Aaron is correct, yes, the ellipsis is used to indicate a pause in speech.
     
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  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's an interesting question. I looked at it as if the speaker were trying to remember the guy's profession.
     
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  6. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    I read it as a pause.
     
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  7. jakeybum
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    jakeybum Member

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    I think we could also use the ellipsis to indicate a pause in this sentence, agreed?

    “What is he on . . . drugs or something?”
     
  8. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I read a lot of Dean Koontz. I have read the book but sadly I don't remember the passage. I read it as an exclamation. A pause of shock. He's a (don't believe it) a policeman. And if that is the case, yes, a question mark should of been used.
    What is the context of this sentence. That might care matters up.
     
  9. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I love ellipses. My view is that they simply indicate 'trailing off' - the reason for the trailing off must be decided by the reader from context. The main situations I use them in:

    Probably most commonly, to imply that the narrator/speaker needs time to decide what to say next. Maybe they're speaking faster than they can think (e.g. if emotionally overwhelmed, or it's just a... a tricky, or a... umm... technical subject), or they may be talking about a touchy subject and need to consider diplomatic phrasing, or how to get a meaning across without directly stating it (e.g. adults using euphemisms with each other when children are around). Maybe you'd call this an unintentional ellipsis (from the narrator/speaker's perspective).

    I also use ellipses rhetorically, when I deliberately want to leave a sentence/idea hanging to make the reader think about it. This would be more intentional. There are lots of reasons why you might want the reader to draw their own conclusions...

    Similarly, you can also use them to create suspense by creating a pause before revealing the resolution. Like 'To be continued...'. Or I think this comes up a fair bit in children's picture books, where there might only be half a sentence per page.

    ETA: I've also seen scripts that use ellipses as sole dialogue to indicate that the character is making as if to speak, but not following through (as if they've opened their mouth, but words fail, or they decide it's a bad idea, or whatever). But this is clearly not the case in your example.
     
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