It might be somewhat ironic, but at the moment I’m finding it difficult to write about silence. I find it particularly tough to convey silence in the middle of a dialogue. Sure, a character can shift in their seat, scratch their head, turn bright red, or pull their ear, but these are really only good shows at a fictional poker match.
What about a father and son that carefully choose each and every word they speak to each other? What about the words they chose not to use, or the long stretches of silence between them?
He said nothing. A contradiction in terms.
“Go stuff yourself,” he didn’t say. It just doesn’t flow.
Of course there are ways, and I’ll get there. Build tension, use point of view to describe thought, and of course show the reader the depth of the silence through action. I can go on, but I’ll make this post worth your while.
I’ve tried to tap into a recent experience. We have had some construction done to our flat, and on a particularly crazy morning we had a cleaning service, builders, and painters all there on the same day. Long story short, it was madness and the cleaner walked into the bathroom and saw me naked in the shower. It was awful (and what is it with these British half glass screen things? Plain and simple, they do not work. She saw it all.). The silence didn’t come until later in the morning when I was finally dressed and crossed paths in the kitchen, and I can tell you it only snowballed from there (note that she screamed when she saw me, which is something I am still accepting). It was incredibly awkward to say the least. My point is the silence said something, and it is pretty difficult to show it through straight-forward narrative:
She said nothing.
“You didn’t deserve that, nobody does,” I didn’t say.
It just doesn’t cut it. But rest easy, this is indeed the purpose of my blog – it gives me some ideas for my scene. For instance,