Using punctuation within a question to create a pause

Is it possible to create a long pause (confusion) in the following question.

You’re maybe wondering how could that be. That she is considering running away?’

Between ‘be and that‘, I was considering using an em-dash to create a prolonged pause, if possible.

I believe that the first clause requires a period (indirect question).


A period already does suggest a pause. I wouldn’t think that even an em dash would necessarily suggest a longer pause—although it’s subjective how each person interprets the cadence of a sentence.

If you finish the first sentence with a question mark that will also indicate a pause—possibly one even longer than just a period:

You maybe wondering how that could be? That she is considering to run away?

It’s true that this turns it into a direct question. But it seems unidiomatic to me that these two sentences should mix indirect and direct questions in the first place.

If I think of hearing somebody keeping their voice level with the first sentence, and raising it with the second sentence, it doesn’t sound right. (Unless a shorter pause is used.) But raising their voice after each sentence—or keeping it level—seems more appropriate:

You’re maybe wondering how this could be. That she is considering running away.

Note, too, that the second sentence is actually a sentence fragment rather than a fully independent clause—but that can be fine in fiction, informal writing, or dialogue.

As referenced in another comment, an ellipsis could also be used. But that’s just a matter of style.

Still, in all possible answers to this, it will be a matter of style (and subjectivity) rather than anything certain.

Source : Link , Question Author : jamal crowder , Answer Author : Jason Bassford

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