Occasionally, I go back through some of my past work (Regarding Avalon, written in 2010??) just to see what I’ve learned. One thing I’ve noticed is that I used to use the ellipsis an awful lot; these days, not so much, though still quite a bit. The other thing I’ve noticed that I have formatted it differently in every book I’ve written.
When I started out, I did what most people do, I just typed in three dots, each one surrounded by spaces.
This is . . . three dots surrounded by spaces
Looks okay, though you have to remember to use hard spaces instead of regular spaces, otherwise the dots might get split across lines when the text reflows. That wasn’t the main problem however; what I dislike about this using this is that the spaces between the dots can grow and shrink, depending on how the paragraph is justified. You could end up with something that looks a bit like this:
The aristocracy – never had a problem with it until I decided to write a short story about werewolves in high society. Now it turns out there’s a bit missing from my grammar playbook.
Do I write:
‘I’ll bring the car around, Ma’am.’
or is it:
‘I’ll bring the car around, ma’am.’
I was pretty sure it was the second one because I ran across a similar problem while I was writing the Quisling Orchid. The book has a lot of dialogue (as all good books seem to), and a lot of Nazis (not necessarily a requirement for a good book). In this case, I knew I should write:
‘And why did you feel the need to let her go, sargeant?’
Small ‘s’ for sargeant, so I figured it was the same for the aristocracy:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your ladyship.’
though I had this notion that maybe ‘ladyship’ needed a capital letter:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your Ladyship.’
And that just looks weird.
Time for a [insert your favourite search engine here] search, and one of the first results that came up was from Merethe Walther’s seriously excellent blog. This page covers every common capitalisation rule, and a couple I hadn’t thought of. Definitely worth a read if you’re not sure, and still worth a read if you’re absolutely positive you’re doing it right.
You might remember that last year, I wrote a piece about a legal battle in Oakhurst Dairies of Maine and its drivers. The case was over $10million the drivers said they were owed in back overtime pay, and hinged around a comma missing in law concerting overtime payments made years before.