In many short erotic stories I regularly see the ellipsis (…). But how and when do you actually use the ellipsis?
The ellipsis – or points of thought – is a series of three dots: …
There is always a space before and after an ellipsis, unless a word is hyphenated. If the ellipsis is at the end of a sentence, there is no period after it. However, an exclamation mark or question mark may appear. There is no space between the ellipsis and that punctuation mark.
Some people never put a space before an ellipsis. That is a matter of taste. In any case, do it consistently (so always a space before, or never).
How and when do you use the ellipsis
The ellipsis can be used in several ways. First of all, it can indicate that a train of thought is not completely finished. The reader must then complete this himself. Sometimes you can also give an extra emotional charge with the ellipsis.
“And what if I undressed completely now …?”
“I got a message from him that he wouldn’t make it …”
You can also indicate an unexpected turn with it.
“Hendrik thinks oral sex is great … to receive”
You can also use the ellipsis to indicate an interruption or a pause. This allows you, for example, to build up a tension.
“She hooked her thumbs behind the elastic of her panties and … slowly pulled it down.”
You can also use the ellipsis to cancel a list; kind of like you would use ‘and so on’.
“She had done everything in her life. Threesomes, gang bangs, group sex, swinging, …”
And you can censor profanities with it.
“You got to be kidding me, f…”
The ellipsis is also used to indicate that part of a quote has been omitted. The ellipsis in brackets is then placed in place of the omitted text.
Should you actually use ellipses?
Umberto Eco has written an essay about the ellipsis in ‘Traveling with a salmon’. According to Eco, writers are mainly distinguished by mediocrity and shyness when they use the ellipsis frequently.
Often an ellipsis is incorrectly used. It should then reflect the main character’s chaotic way of thinking. The writer leaves out all sorts of considerations and ifs and buts at the place of the dots.
“Would he come tonight … And could I hold back my anger … How would he feel if I did …”
If you use the ellipses so often, it comes across as restless to the reader.
Another wrong way of using the ellipsis is to use more than three dots. Three point is the only correct way. Not four, six, or ten. Three!
“Yes, but wait ………….”
People also use the three dots to avoid appearing harsh or unfriendly. The writer then states that he omits all kinds of arguments. Compare:
“I do not have time.”
“I do not have time …”
It seems that this is something that is mainly used in social media, because there you have to be short and sweet in your messages.
If you want to take a breather for the reader, or if you want to give a certain rhythm to your text, remember that you can also – or better – achieve that by interrupting long sentences with a comma (for a slow rhythm), or write short sentences (place dots more often for a fast rhythm). You can also achieve the effect of pauses by adding empty lines.
Avoid excessive use of these types of strong punctuation marks. I myself use the rule of thumb to never use the ellipsis more than once per page. Be creative and look for other ways to express the feeling you want to express with the ellipsis.