Today we’re continuing my series of handy one-page reference guides for the struggling author. The information I am imparting to you is drawn from my reference manual of choice, Bryan A. Garner’s The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. It takes the relevant parts of the Chicago Manual of Style and puts them into an understandable form.
On deck today is the ellipsis, that symbol of omitted words so beloved and so misused by the new, uninformed author. A signifier of things left unsaid, the ellipsis does many things, but is not punctuation in itself.
In my opinion, some people rely too heavily on the ellipsis in their prose. Used too freely, the narrative becomes halting…stuttering…gasping to a near stop.
However, just as adverbs and other descriptors are, the ellipsis is a tool and we must know how and when to use it to the greatest effect.
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