I can’t seem to help myself. I love using those suckers. I use them in dialogue. I use them in description. I use them to give my stories big dramatic pauses.
I . . . just . . . can’t . . . help . . . it.
When I was editing my latest manuscript, I knew I had too many and had to cut a lot of them out. I discovered in Word you can highlight anything that repeats through your manuscript using the replace feature:
- Click on “replace” on your toolbar.
- When the dialog box comes up, type an ellipsis in the “find what” box. In the “replace with” box, do the same. Make sure the cursor is in the “replace with” box.
- In the lower left-hand corner there is a button that says “more.” Click on it.
- The window will expand and will show a pull-down menu called “format,” also in the lower left-hand corner.
- Click on it and then click on “highlight.” (It should now say “highlight” under “replace with.”)
- Click on “replace all.”
Every ellipsis in your manuscript will be highlighted. (This highlighting trick is also helpful for spotting passive voice and overused words.) Word will tell you how many ellipses are in your manuscript.
In my 36,000 word novella there were EIGHTY-FOUR ellipses.
I don’t know about you, but that struck me as a tad excessive.
Then I realized I had typed a few ellipses incorrectly, bringing the total to . . .
Let’s not talk about that. (Or about the ellipsis I used in the previous sentence.) I cut quite a few ellipses during the first pass. During subsequent passes, I cut even more.
I probably should have cut out more than that, but sometimes . . . you need that dramatic pause.