1. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    Silence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Masli, Jun 23, 2015.

    I'm having some difficulty with some dialogue. I feel it very important that at the last sentence there is a silence, to basicly 'land' the bom that's been dropped on my MC. I tried to describe the silence, but feel that it is distracting, and doesn't leave much place for the reader to actually feel the silence. My first instinct was to use plain ellipses, but then I started doubting myself as to whether or not to put dialogue tags in, and then I started to doubt if the ellipses were even used for this sort of situations...

    So some advice would be very much appreciated!


    “Too late?” Silas said, feeling like a parrot, but unable to come up with something more sensible.

    The look Eclipse gave him told him his world was bout to get even more tilted, and he almost didn’t want to know the answer.

    “Silas… you died.”

    “...”
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    You need description.

    I don't know your POV from that bit but it would be something like:

    The cup fell from Silas' grasp. It collided with the floor sending ceramic shards in all directions. Not a muscle moved, not to blink, not to speak, not to get out of the way of the shattering cup. Slowly his jaw dropped leaving his mouth gaping.
     
  3. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I agree with @GingerCoffee: you need add descriptive text and rely less on dialogue alone.

    The look Eclipse gave him told him his world was bout to get even more tilted, and he almost didn’t want to know the answer.
    I'd remove the first 'him' in this sentence as well.

    “Silas … you died.”
    As far as I know, there should be a space on either side of ellipsis as well. Though, I think in a traditional style there wasn't any space before or after ellipsis, like with the traditional use of the em dash.

    Hope this helped. :)
     
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  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    The smash of the cup and rattle of the shards are kinda contrary to the silence being sought, yeah?
     
  5. Aaron DC
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    I have used and seen others use something similar to this in forums where you ask a question and get no response (ie "silence"):

    *crickets*

    So perhaps consider your environment where conversation is taking place, and all the typical sounds of that environment. Then consider the environment outside that first one, and the sounds you would not normally hear. And describe them.

    eg:

    Silas stared at Eclipse, unblinking, his face taut.

    Outside, a rooster crowed the arrival of sunset.




    It could use a lot of work, but hopefully gives you some ideas. The noise being described could also potentially add to the atmosphere you are aiming for in the scene.
     
  6. Masli
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    And what if I would leave this as the end of a chapter? Would that be better?
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    Not if the silence was in the dialogue.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    I think it would work.
     
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    The *cricket* option might actually be nice in a more humorous setting, but that's not what I'm going for here. As for the other descriptive lines, I feel that it is drawing attention away from the news that's just been dropped on him... ARGG this is so difficult! :confuzled:
     
  11. The Mad Regent
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    Can't you just write something like, 'He gasped his last breath and world around him turned silent.'

    I think you could, in theory, get away with the ellipsis if the prior dialogue building to it was well crafted. Maybe just write it how you want then get various unaware people to read it and see their reactions? Experiments give results!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  12. Aaron DC
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    I didn't mean type *crickets* literally - I thought the rest of my post explained what I was suggesting.
     
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  13. No-Name Slob
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    Thank you for discussing spacing between ellipses. This is something that irritates me for some reason, and I never feel certain about which is correct. Lol.
     
  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Well a correct ellipses also has a space between each period . . . like this.
     
  15. No-Name Slob
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    Gross, I don't like it like that. :(
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    Then why does my word processor autocorrect to ... ?
     
  17. jannert
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    Is this the end of a chapter? If so, I'd just end with "Silas ...you died." You've already indicated in the previous line that the next thing Silas was going to hear would tilt his world, and that he didn't want to hear it. So to simulate silence, just let it drop.

    Obviously if the silence is brief, and the chapter continues, you'll need to do something else, though.

    You could play around with it a bit. The ellipsis in quotes would work, especially if you could maybe do a few of them. Like so. Then follow with another remark from the parrot :

    "Silas ...you died."

    "...."

    "...."

    "...."

    "Did you hear what I just said?" Eclipse asked.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  18. Jack Asher
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    Couldn't tell you. Especially because Scrivener auto corrects to the spaced ellipses.
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Using ellipses to denote silence is very old-fashioned, and I have yet to see any contemporary works of fiction do this. Also, it sounds to me like you're trying to force the issue. A simple "There was silence." or something similar will do just fine.
     
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  20. Ben414
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    I agree with thirdwind. You could try something like this:

    "Silas ... you died."

    There was no response. Only silence.
     
  21. Masli
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    Thank you all so much for your advice and suggestions. I think for now I'll go with The Mad Regent's advice of trying various options, and see what other people prefer to read.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    Mine doesn't. I just checked it. If I type ... Scrivener autocorrects putting them closer together.
     
  23. Mckk
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    I've never seen plain eclipses used in narrative - only in comment books and it's usually used to comical effect on top of that. So I'd say stay away there, especially if you have it to be dramatic rather than "eh?"

    What the others suggested re using description to imply silence is good advice. However, just because there's some description doesn't mean it has to be long. You're right that a long piece of description would distract, I think. Breaking things up into fragments, one-word paragraphs, a short line of narrative as its own paragraph - all these would work.
     
  24. CJT
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    It's an option in the autocorrect menu, I am guessing - MS Office does this by default, as do many other Word processors out there, as it is considered a 'popular' option, from feedback over the years.

    If you dig into the options, you can find and remove this, or alter it, if you wanted to.

    Additionally, you can also add in your own common errors, as well, which is what I do for things like 'teh ' and 'adn ', which I find I type occasinally. You can even enter in your own codes here to, to prevent you having to type out long repetative words, i.e. you can add 'cxyz' to be replaced with your company address, to save having to always type it out. ;-)
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
  25. CJT
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    As to the OP's question, I feel that more atmosphere could be added with a textual addition.

    "Silas ..." he hesitated, looking up, face pale in the wan moonlight, "you died."

    or some such!

    The filler text, not only supplies more atmosphere, but the act of reading it, emphasises the pause itself in the reader's mind. The use of ellipses here indicates that there is a pause, but also, that the sentence continues after the filler text.
     

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