1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    The '--'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Marcelo, Apr 2, 2009.

    I think someone already asked this before, but I really want to know how to use these. I think they work like parentheses, but I'm not really sure. However, I know that these are used a lot in all kind of books, I took an example from Brisingr (The book I'm actually reading):

    She said, "Galbatorix's true name is no great secret. Three different elves--one a Rider, and two ordinary spellcasters--discovered it on their own and many years apart."

    I can note there are no spaces in between, and that they bear similarities to the parentheses. Help please?
     
  2. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    They can work similarly to parentheses. The difference, I think, is that the text in between two dashes must be directly related to the sentence it's stuck in, wheras the stuff in parentheses can go off on some loosely related topic. That's how I've always done it, anyway. I also use them to indicate that something has happened suddenly, or occasionally when one character interrupts another in mid-sentence. I think it gives more of a "Suddenly!" feeling than simply using a period or a comma.
     
  3. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Oh, I think I get your point. However, I don't know how to use it in dialogue. Any help, please? :)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in dialog, a pause is shown with an ellipsis [...] and the em dash [--] is used only to show a broken-off or interrupted sentence... there's a whole thread on here about the two here, where i recently posted a complete rundown on the rules and regs of these marks' usage... i'm sure you can find it with a bit of looking...

    i found it... here's the page... scroll down to the link i provided:
    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=20218

    and here are usage rules, from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_overvw.html :

     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    arch... what's an 'option key'?
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I believe it is the option key on a Mac that corresponds with the alt key on an IBM
     
  8. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Um.. then the option key on a Mac would be the clover key wouldn't it? Macs are confusing >< (Sorry to go off topic here, but I despise Macs...)

    ~Lynn
     

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