1. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Slow speech

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by HorusEye, Oct 30, 2009.

    I love slowing down speech... I think it adds more reflection... But I'm not sure if I'm doing it the proper way.

    An example sentence:
    "Her whole house, even the bathroom, has pink carpets."

    Becomes

    "Her whole house... Even the bathroom...has pink carpets."

    The first pause slightly longer, by being seperated into two sentences.
    It reads to me the way I want it to, but is it right?

    I'd love to have absolute control of timing, but I guess that's impossible in text.
     
  2. Mister Micawber
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    Mister Micawber Member

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    By definition, an ellipsis is three dots with no space before or after. If you wish to end a sentence with one, you need a fourth dot and then a space (or two) before the first word of the following sentence.

    As to the effect: I don't think a new sentence has any advantage over the simple ellipsis between phrases here.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    "Her whole house," Jack said slowly, "even the bathroom, has pink carpets."

    You don't need to micromanage the dialogue. But a well placed dialogue tag makes a very effective pause.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's impossible at all, really. But an overabundance of ellipses tends to become more distracting (to a reader) than illustrative; and they probably indicate distraction on the part of the speaker, as well. I agree with Cogito that there are better ways to intrude with a gesture or description that gives the effect you're looking for. I think if you can determine the reason for her slowness of speech, then you're next trick is to "show" the reader why she's speaking that way, rather than to use punctuation to do it instead. I think it's not so much a matter of rightness or wrongness, but a matter of "effectiveness" in storytelling.

    "Her whole house ... " Lizzie didn't finish her thought, but knelt in the hallway and touched the carpet as if to prove to herself it was no illusion. "Even the bathroom," she said in a soft, almost reverent voice, "has pink carpet." Another character can also interject something that reflects a notice of the slowness of speech (maybe some impatience), and that interjection will tend to slow down the pace of a dialogue tidbit, where that's important for some storyline or character-building reason.

    I think if you'll fiddle with this kind of idea somehow, you'll discover more interesting ways of showing the reader what's actually going on in your story.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the replies so far, they're very useful.

    Regarding this, I've heard it said before, but I don't actually recall seeing four dots used in a sentence that trails off....

    Is it one of those "correct, but hardly ever used" things?
     
  6. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I don't know of a style manual that supports this particular usage for a four-dot ellipsis. The only place I've ever seen that is with respect to quoted material, where the quoted passage is interrupted by an ellipsis that is intended to show that what's missing goes all the way to the end of a sentence or paragraph. And even that is not always followed, as a publishing preference. IME, this is not typical of a usage in fiction to show "trailing off" of speech (how would you know it trails off to the end of a sentence?). Maybe Mister M has a reference he can supply for this, but I've never seen it.

    As to the spacing or lack of, that, too, varies depending upon style preferences. The important thing in a manuscript is to be consistent, since the publisher or editor will likely have a style preference. I like to put spaces before and after the ellipsis in order to avoid having a line of word processing foreshortened by connecting two words together and forming a long piece of print that's unnecessarily brought down to the next line.
     

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