Ode to the Ellipsis

This is where I admit that I am not a good passenger. I get so very bored while traveling long distances. I love the idea of going and arriving. It’s the time in between these two things that I don’t like. If I forget to take a book to read, or can’t keep Mike engaged in conversation…it can get ugly.

Soooo. We are on the road, heading to Columbia, PA., where I have some business to take care of. My mind begins to wander, searching for something interesting to think about. What do I settle on, you ask. Ellipsis.

The reason ellipsis came to mind is the fact that I love them. And, apparently, I misuse them all of the time. Think about the ellipsis, just three little dots…

Now Miriam Webster defines the ellipsis thus: the omission of a word or words necessary for complete grammatical construction but understood in the context. Writing or printing a mark… or formerly *** indicating an intentional omission of words or letters or an abrupt change of thought, lapse of time, incomplete statement, etc.

I use the ellipsis to show a lapse in conversation…a hesitation, if you will. I find the ellipsis much more appealing than the comma. When I’m reading or writing, I don’t hesitate at a comma, I just move forward. When stating something emotional or even frightening, the ellipsis is the ticket. One that I can no longer use…at will.

Take this sentence: He felt pee trickle into his bvd’s…he was screwed. Did you hesitate before saying the last part of that sentence? Did it make you feel the seriousness of the moment? How about this one: “Sir…Mr. President.” Does the ellipsis say anything to you about this sentence? Does it say the person speaking was in a hurry? Or does it give you the impression that he was hesitant…troubled?

This is just my way of saying goodbye to a dear friend the … farewell. I am grateful that my editor showed me the error of my ways. Now it’s up to me to end the addiction. I will still be able to use the occasional … in my work, so I think I will survive.

But…just in case. Is there therapy out there somewhere for punctuation addiction?

3 comments on “Ode to the Ellipsis

  1. Mike and I over-use dashes, I think. Of course, nothing I write is ever in danger of being published, and Mike’s too stubborn to imagine his is worth publishing.

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