Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Punctuation points

In my editing, I come across writers who use ellipses in place of periods and commas, resulting in overuse.

To illustrate:
"In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was with God . . . and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

Ellipsis points (three spaced dots) are used to indicate an omission of a word, phrase, line, or paragraph from a quoted passage:

"By faith Moses . . .  was hidden by his parents . . . because they saw that the child was beautiful" (Hebrews 11:23).

When used to indicate a break in thought or faltering speech, ellipses are called suspension points:

"I . . . uh . . . I . . . didn't . . . uh . . . see you."

Too often I see suspension points/ellipses used  in place of commas or periods:

"She showered . . . put on her makeup . . . blew her hair dry . . . and ironed her new capris . . . all in the half hour before her blind date arrived."

Commas will do and won't distract the reader:

"She showered, put on her makeup, blew her hair dry, and ironed her new capris all in the half hour before her blind date arrived."

When you find yourself using ellipses or suspension points, ask yourself:
  • Am I omitting a word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph from a quotation? If so, use them.
  • Will a comma or period create the effect I want (which is a pause or break in thought)? If yes, then use the comma or period.
  • Do I want to suggest faltering speech? If you do, then use the suspension points.
Ellipses, or suspension points, are like pepper: Use sparingly. Sprinkle in with care. Too much, and the dish is unpalatable.

Update on Whiskey Run:

Word count: 16,341
Words written since last Thursday (Thursday to Wednesday): 101

It doesn't look like much, but I didn't work on this for 15-10 minutes every day, as I planned to. I didn't make it a priority. Fie! Fie! 

My excuse: It's been since November, and before I can move forward, I have to go back and review what I've written, immerse myself into the story once again. So I combed through the first two chapters, reading and revising.

Not as much as I wanted to do, but more than I'd done in seven months. 

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