A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)
Silence Can Be Golden
Most literary criticism is concerned with what authors write. The idea of strategically using silence in your writing, by contrast, is concerned not so much with what authors write as it is with what they do not write.
When it comes to writing a book, here are a couple of questions every author should consider: Is it sometimes better to leave things a little open ended? Or should you absolutely, every single time, try your best to describe every tiny detail your vivid imagination can divulge? Do you leave room for your reader’s imagination to have a life of it’s own? Or are you, perhaps, limiting the imagination of your reader by over doing it? Do you have adjective-itis?
“The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”
“That was the curious thing,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The main weakness about this idea that silence can be golden, of course, is that it fails to take into account the way books are actually written—with adjectives. But when is enough enough? That’s the real question to consider.
Below is a six word story I recently entered in a contest:
The dawn. The pilgrimage. The dust.
What comes to mind when you think of the dawn? Awakening? A new day? Who woke-up? A teenager? A married couple? Whoever/whatever it was inspired a pilgrimage. What kind of pilgrimage? Spiritual? Adventuresome? Why dust? You get the idea.
So the next time you want to include more because you feel a strong urge to tell your readers more about how Smith furrowed his brow and glared with genuine distrust at his shimmering spoonful of crimson colored magic tonic—NyQuil—force yourself to leave out the extra things you think you should include.
There will be plenty of opportunity in your book for you to write more—but sometimes less is the golden rule you should follow.
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6 thoughts on “Silence Can Be Golden by @JERoyle”
Oh, I like this advice. Finally, something I can actually do 🙂
I was thinking about keeping silent and not leaving a reply, but could not resist. Good one!
I also prefer the less is more approach but not everybody is the same.
When it’s all said and done, putting “proper words in proper places” is probably every writer’s goal. I could say more, but will stop there. Oops, I lied. That was from a quote by Jonathan Swift about proper words.
Reblogged this on Michaelphelps1's Blog and commented:
Makes me THINK . . . re-read my work – – – do I give my Readers room to draw their own image of my characters, their actions . . . their plans.
Interesting! Thank you, Mr. Royle.
Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.