Monday, March 14, 2011

Ellipses, Hyperbolas Hyperboles, and a Little Slice of Pi

My name is Alison. And I’m addicted to ellipses.

Thank goodness for my awesome CPs who call me on it because my stories might tend to look like this . . . .

(A prehistoric excerpt from my story, Envious)

“Okay, so this is pretty good stuff right here on page one . . . we can keep that . . . and I think you should definitely keep all the history . . . might need a little more research on Taoism to support your findings, but for the most part, it’s not bad . . . not bad at all.”

“Not bad, huh?” I asked Josh. He turned to me, smiled lightly, and nodded. “So, in other words, it totally sucks?”

Josh’s brown eyes widened to the size of baseballs. “No, no,” he protested. “It’s really . . . uh . . . pretty good . . . it just needs some more . . . er . . . documented support,” he stammered, flipping through the pages of my research paper. “You just need to elaborate more on some of your findings . . . okay a lot of your findings . . . but—” Exasperated, he frowned at me and plopped the paper on the table. “Okay, we have a lot of work to do.”


I'm not completely addicted, but I do have a tendency to use them, um . . . a lot. (See?!)

And did you notice the Josh’s eyes widened to the size of baseballs? Yeah—I’m the hyperbole queen too.

Okay—so what are ellipses and hyperboles, how should they be used, and the most important question—why am I obsessed with them?!

Ellipses:

Ellipsis marks are a set of three periods that indicate dropped words or a dropped thought within a sentence. You can write ellipsis marks correctly by writing them as a set of three periods, each separated from the material around them by a space. If the ellipsis marks come at the end of a sentence, you still need to end the sentence with a period after the ellipses.

You can also use ellipsis marks to indicate a pause or interruption of a thought or a pause in a sentence's flow. This is especially useful for recording dialogue or for creating a stylistic effect within your sentence. (from ehow.com)

You’ll see ellipses formatted in two ways, either three points without spacing (…) or three points with spacing ( . . . ) (from Writing Forward.com)

Hyperboles:

obvious and intentional exaggeration.

an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally.

You know—like his eyebrows arched to Mars or nobody said anything for, like, a year.

When to use:

Dude—all the time!

Just kidding. Like anything—hyperboles and ellipses will be most effective when used sparingly or at least in moderation. I need to constantly remind myself of this. Hee.

And just so you know - I did eliminate all some of my ellipses from that passage. Here's the updated version.

“Okay, so this is pretty good stuff right here on page one. And I think you should definitely keep all the history. You might need a little more research on Taoism to support your findings, but for the most part, it’s not bad. Not bad at all.”

“Not bad, huh?” I asked Josh. He turned to me, smiled lightly, and nodded. “So, in other words, it totally sucks?”

Josh’s eyes tried to pop out of their sockets. “No, no. It’s really good. It, uh . . . just needs some more documented support.” He flipped through the pages of my research paper. “You just need to elaborate more on some of your findings . . . maybe a lot of your findings, but—” Exasperated, he frowned and plopped the paper on the table. “Okay, we have a lot of work to do.”


A little better. Maybe.

Now the big question: Why am I so obsessed?!

I’m blaming it on my left brain. My math-y, analytical side. Yeah. You see. Ellipses and hyperbolas rock the math world too.

What do math ellipses have to do with grammar ellipses? Not much, but it explains why I overuse them(maybe). Here are some pictures and examples so I won't have to bore you will all the math nitty gritty. (THANK YOU!!!)

Ever thought about orbiting the sun? You might need an ellipse!




Here's another! (Recognize this one?!)


Hyperbola is actually closely related to hyperbole as it derives its name from the Greek ὑπερβολή, meaning "over-thrown" or "excessive." (Sound familiar?)

And if you've ever turned left at an intersection, you and the rest of traffic create a hyperbola (sort of).



So there's your math and english lesson for the day! Aren't you glad you stopped by?

Oh—and PS—It’s 3.14 at 1:59-ish sooooo



Happy Pi Day!!!

Yeah, yeah. I know. Enough with the math already.

Anything you’re addicted to in your writing? Or are YOU celebrating anything special today?

9 comments:

  1. There must be different ways to use the ellipsis (UK vs US perhaps? I don't know!) because I've looked through several published novels and in some they leave a space and then write the three periods, and in others they write the three periods immediately after the word. Though none of them have a fourth period after the ellipsis at the end of a sentence (though I did see a comma after one of them! "I wish...," he whispered).

    Anyhoo, being a maths teacher, I appreciated all the math stuff :-)

    And happy pi day to you too! Have you seen this video? "What pi sounds like":

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOjsRyxL7Rs

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  2. lol...I share your addiction. I love ellipses.

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  3. Rachel - the way you're describing the use of ellipses is what I was trying to say above, but maybe I didn't make it clear. One of my critique partners found the same thing for me. Two ways to ue them - either with a space before and after the ellipsis mark or no spaces at all. The space between each dot was news to me as was the period if an ellipsis ends a sentence.

    so much info out there, but I'm sure editors will set us all straight. :)

    And Michael - it's a hard habit to break!

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  4. Interesting--I had one novel where I used ellipses VERY frequently. I had to delete a lot of 'em. Any punctuation overused is not good. Yeah...glad to hear there IS a period at the end cuz my CPs keep trying to take them out. ;o) Seriously tho, like you said, the editors (their copyeditors) will set us straight. And it's not like they'll reject our story if we forget a space or a period on our ellipses!

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  5. I admit, I'm addicted to ellipses, too. I don't know why...they're just so much fun to use.

    Happy Pi day!

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  6. I use them a lot too, in dialogue and occasionally in text :D But honestly, if you think about how some people speak, they SPEAK in ellipses :P

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  7. Totally forgot it was Pi day. Sigh. No Pi for me. I use the dot thingy (I can't spell it) more than I should....and usually incorrectly. Thanks for showing me the truth.

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  8. I totally have a math brain too...maybe that's the root of my ellipses obsession :) Great post!

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  9. I wake up......from writer mode.. with this... every time. I call taking them back out - Dot penance! If I have been very naughty........I assign myself penance. I hate these dang things and I still put them in every line I write! I also Puuulllll my words and randomly hit upper case. I type so fast when I am on a first draft, but think how much faster I would be if I didn't add 7000 characters per page! Wait was that a hyperbole? Ohhhhhhh nooooooooooooo!

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