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brainstorm77
01-02-2011, 06:04 PM
Yay? Nay?

pinkrobot
01-02-2011, 06:17 PM
With the actual ellipses? Unless it REALLY fits where I've decided to use it--and unless it adds to the flow of the story--I don't ever do it. But I think it depends on the style of your writing and the actual reason for using it to start off a sentence.

scarletpeaches
01-02-2011, 06:20 PM
Are you referring to the ellipsis?

I don't ever do it unless it's continued dialogue after a pause.

For example: "I wonder if I should watch an Aidan Turner video tonight? Or perhaps..." scarletpeaches stroked her chinbeard before continuing, "...The Tudors is in order tonight, methinks."

:D

brainstorm77
01-02-2011, 06:23 PM
Yes I am referring to ellipsis. I've never done it myself. I've never had reason to but was wondering if it's even a correct thing to do.

scarletpeaches
01-02-2011, 06:27 PM
An ellipsis is used to indicate a pause and it's a bit difficult to indicate a pause at the beginning of someone speaking. In fact it's often taken as a continuation, and how could one continue, if you're just beginning to speak, or starting a new sentence?

If it's at the start of someone speaking, I have a tendency to 'tell' the pause rather than show it:

brainstorm bit her lip before speaking. "Um...scarletpeaches? I'm going to hit you in the face with a frying pan."

:D

Tiergan
01-02-2011, 06:45 PM
The only time I have ever used it to start a sentence was when my MC drifted off to his own thoughts while someone rambled on. I used it when the MC mentally came back into the conversation.

RJK
01-02-2011, 06:52 PM
From Wikipedia:

Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek): ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission") is a mark or series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word in the original text. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aposiopesis)) (apostrophe and ellipsis mixed). When placed at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech.


The only place in this definition where an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence would fit, would be, if you were omitting words at the start of your sentence, as you might do when paraphrasing a quote.

Jamesaritchie
01-02-2011, 07:45 PM
I wouldn't.

san_remo_ave
01-02-2011, 09:18 PM
I've used emdash at the beginning of a sentence to convey snatches of conversation overheard at a large gathering.

At the time, I wondered if the publisher would go for it, but we've not only made it through revisions but also line edits and it's still there!

Just depends on how and why you'd do it, I think.

~Elaine

shaldna
01-02-2011, 09:33 PM
Terry Pratchett has done it, usually over scene breaks. It can be quite effective when done well.

DavidZahir
01-02-2011, 10:01 PM
Pretty much agree with everyone else. It can work, now and then, for special circumstances. Don't make a habit of it. See if you can achieve the same impact without.

Ken
01-02-2011, 10:29 PM
... "yay," though I may be a bit biased on the matter ;-)

singsebastian
01-03-2011, 01:57 AM
I personally wouldn't do it.

Matera the Mad
01-03-2011, 02:30 AM
I might consider susing it if the MC walked in on a conversation and didn't hear the beginning of a sentence of dialogue. Especially if the incomplete sentence was related to something plot-critical and gave the protag a good WTF-moment.

Jamesaritchie
01-03-2011, 04:24 AM
The problem is that an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence already has a meaning that most readers, I hope, already know, so they won't see your intended use, just the grammatical meaning.

Toothpaste
01-03-2011, 05:02 AM
I've done it. To signal a pause of confusion before answering a question, ie: ". . . Yes."

And readers seem to not mind :) .

eward
01-03-2011, 07:40 AM
I use ellipses a lot in the middle of dialogue, showing/telling a pause, but I'd never begin the dialogue with ". . ." I'd just write, He paused. And I'd definitely never begin a normal sentence with . . . because that really wouldn't make sense.

Example from my work:

Keith smiled, nodding. “It’s okay. . .it makes sense, you pretty much grew up here.”

Jamesaritchie
01-03-2011, 07:43 PM
I've done it. To signal a pause of confusion before answering a question, ie: ". . . Yes."

And readers seem to not mind :) .

Which readers? I'm certainly not going to let a writer know I mind him doing this. It's too much trouble for no result. But using an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence does NOT indicate a pause, no matter how much the writer wants it to. It indicates missing words. This is the purpose of an ellipsis, its very meaning, and it's how readers who know grammar are going to understand it.

Terie
01-03-2011, 08:14 PM
Which readers? I'm certainly not going to let a writer know I mind him doing this. It's too much trouble for no result. But using an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence does NOT indicate a pause, no matter how much the writer wants it to. It indicates missing words. This is the purpose of an ellipsis, its very meaning, and it's how readers who know grammar are going to understand it.

According to actual, yanno, grammar references:


Ellipsis (or Suspension Points)

1. Indicates the ommission of one or more words written in a quoted passage.

2. Usually indicates omission of one more more lines of poetry when ellipsis is extended the length of the line.

3. Indicates halting speech or an unfinished sentence in dialogue.

Also:

In punctuation, an ellipsis is a series of points (...) signalling an omission.

An ellipsis can be used to show a trailing off, interruption of, or pause in speech or thought in order to create dramatic, rhetorical, or ironic effects.

(all bolding mine)

Therefore, one can posit that readers who know grammar do indeed know that an ellipsis can be used to show a pause.

Funny how much one can find when one actually cracks open the ol' grammar books, innit?

Stacia Kane
01-03-2011, 08:22 PM
Therefore, one can posit that readers who know grammar do indeed know that an ellipsis can be used to show a pause.

Funny how much one can find when one actually cracks open the ol' grammar books, innit?



Ditto this. Since when do ellipses only indicate missing words and nothing else?

I'm glad none of my favorite writers, and certainly none of my copyeditors, ever heard that silliness.

Toothpaste
01-03-2011, 11:33 PM
Which readers? I'm certainly not going to let a writer know I mind him doing this. It's too much trouble for no result. But using an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence does NOT indicate a pause, no matter how much the writer wants it to. It indicates missing words. This is the purpose of an ellipsis, its very meaning, and it's how readers who know grammar are going to understand it.

You're right James. The readers who have specifically pointed out that they liked that moment in my book were doing so because they really hated it and were secretly mocking me. I just never wanted to look at it that way.

And my editor, copy editor etc, all of them, wanted me to be laughed at by people who "know grammar" and so never once "corrected" it.

Sigh.

As has already been proven, you're definition isn't altogether accurate. Further it's called playing around, being inspired by other media - in this case comic books and plays. But whatever. To make you feel a bit better, how about I add that actually it was an instance of a word missing. The full phrase would have been: "What? Uh, sure, yes." But instead, that first bit is internalised by the character so instead you get a halting, " . . . Yes." And the readers who have pointed out how much they like what I did, did so specifically because they got what I was trying to do and thought it was neat and wanted to let me know.

And again.

Sigh.

AlexPiper
01-03-2011, 11:41 PM
I've done it. To signal a pause of confusion before answering a question, ie: ". . . Yes."

This.

There are times you can envision a character just standing there in stunned silence for a beat or two before managing a reply to someone else's statement or action. As Terie notes, both the OMS and CMS state an ellipsis can be used to mean a hesitation/pause in spoken dialogue; sometimes starting a sentence that way can be an effective tool.

(Of course, as with many techniques, this is a tool that should probably be used in moderation!)

Susan Littlefield
01-03-2011, 11:53 PM
I always thought ellipses were for dropped words, such as stopping before the speaker has completed their sentence, but that their meaning was clearly understood. Using them before a sentence in fiction seems a little odd to me. I don't think any writing tool should never be used, but I think the writer must be clear as to why they are usung ellipses at the beginning or their meaning could be misunderstaood.

Terie
01-04-2011, 12:54 AM
Another appropriate case for starting a sentence with an ellipsis is when the POV character walks into the middle of what someone else is saying without having heard what went before.

"...wanted to tell you about Mary," Mr.Thornton was saying to the class as I walked into the room.

Susan Littlefield
01-04-2011, 07:50 AM
Terie, what a great example! That makes perfect sense to me.

seun
01-04-2011, 01:05 PM
I don't think I've ever done it but I don't see a problem with using it to indicate a pause in speech.

valca85
01-05-2011, 06:40 AM
I have seen it before, but it seems to be tricky to use without it looking like a gimmick.