The ellipsis (and … how not to abuse it …) + quiz!

When a publisher evaluates a novel, besides considering plot, characters and writing style, it also focuses on punctuation: that exclamation point could be too much; that point should be replaced with a semicolon; that direct speech, so full of graphic signs, seems almost a mathematical function.

But what immediately catches the eye, before the improper use of the signs of punctuation, is their improper writing; there is one, in particular, that lends itself particularly well to this type of error: the ellipses.

Often an insidious trap, every year it cuts down countless victims (even among the poor who are forced to read them, it is understood), and there is nothing worse than not being published for having added one more point, or one less, or having used them naively or inappropriately.

But what good is this death trap? Why use it if the risk is so great? Well, the ellipses, as the name implies, are intended to suspend the speech, to then resume it immediately or interrupt it, leaving the reader to complete it in his mind. He can also interrupt a word in his course. Here are some examples:

“This author, who doesn’t even know how to use an ellipsis … certainly doesn’t deserve publication.”

“It seemed like a good novel. After seeing the ellipsis, however … »

“This book is really bad. No, no, malediz … I just can’t read it. “

The break can occur for the most varied reasons: allusion, doubt, fear, tiredness, shyness, fear … The important thing is not to exceed in their use. And if you believe, analyzing your novel, which contains so much doubt and fear as to not be able to avoid a continuous repetition of the three dots, the problem arises the same: take your characters to the psychologist, or make them say things as they are – even if the murderer on duty told them to keep quiet.

Now let’s see how to use the ellipsis correctly. First of all, there are only three: not two, not four, not one hundred thousand (contrary to what we often see on some social networks).

They are attached to the word that precedes them; after them, instead, it is necessary to insert a space, to then continue with the speech: the lower case will be inserted if the next sentence is the continuation of the previous one, the capital letter if it takes another direction.

“If only I had added one more point … at this time I would be in a bookstore, to present my brand new book.”

“I thought I only wrote three ellipses, and instead … I probably fell asleep on the keyboard.”

If the ellipsis is followed by a graphic sign (as can be the exclamation mark, the question mark or the quotation marks in the direct speech), the space must not be inserted.

“Here I am, Mr. Publisher! You will see, in the next book I will not be misfired, and if only he dedicated some of his trust to me …! “


«For example, I can already say that this conversation is wrong, because it is too rich with ellipsis. What can I say, I became really good … “

How to behave, instead, if the suspension points are inserted not after, but before the word? In this case, a space must be inserted between the two elements.

“… If you say so.”

Finally, the three dots also play an essential role in the quotations, highlighting that a portion of the text has been omitted. In this case, they are enclosed in square brackets.

The publisher had been very strict in judging the manuscript. He had addressed the following words to the author: “A very bad book, a graphic delusion that anyone, reading it, would prefer to burn in the fireplace. In doing so, he might even manage to get rid of some points, bringing the text back to a sense of normality. Here is my judgment. “

Turned into

The publisher had been very strict in judging the manuscript. He had addressed the following words to the author: “A very bad book, a graphic delusion that anyone, reading it, would prefer to burn in the fireplace. […] Here is my judgment. “

Well! It is hoped, now, that every author knows by heart this difficult but fascinating sign of punctuation. In doing so, he could think, with a parallelism, of the three fundamental results he aims for: creating a good book, getting published and – hopefully – having great success! So he would be even more inclined to use the correct form (but be careful: to increase success, you don’t need to add other dots, in fact).

The ellipsis creates an atmosphere of expectation, it is well known … But if the author has sent a novel to the editor, and this punctuation mark, like all the others, has been written in the most correct form, the tension drops drastically: after all that expectation, the probability of the novel being published becomes much higher.

Well, now you want to show everyone your ellipsis skills, but you don’t know how? Good helmets: we have designed a quiz just for you!

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