What You Don’t Say
by Marlene Mesot
There used to be a game show called What You Don’t Say with the tag line: “It’s not what you say that counts. It’s what you don’t say.’ Writing is kind of like that. You can peek a reader’s interest by implication or withholding information but dropping clues or hints as to what they need to know. Here are my writing observations along this line.
1. Don’t Assume.
If you’ve ever taken a writing course, you probably noticed that most of the time, instructors refer to the main character as she, and occasionally he. Since you are speaking in the singular you can’t just say them. Why not give readers a choice by using he/she or she/he instead?
2. Action Speaks Louder in Words.
‘Lights. Camera. Action!”
Action is the key to moving your story along, keeping your characters moving and keeping your readers interested. Action and reaction builds suspense and keeps the story flowing. Keep the time to act and the time to think in balance. Get into your character’s mind when it is appropriate to the situation.
A time for everything reminds me of Ecclesiastes chapter 3. You might remember the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds based on this chapter of the Bible. The familiar King James version, Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Or from the New American Standard version, Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–” I’ve included the second reading as i prefer this version of the Bible myself.
When expressing yourself as a writer it is good practice to use action verbs more than state of being verbs. Some readers, when narrating, seem to mix up the verb to live, (short i), with the adjective live action, (long i). There is a difference.
3. Show Or Tell?
It is appropriate to tell when you need to summarize to bridge a gap in time in the story. That is, to move the story from one place to another without having to include insignificant information. You can also tell when using description, but there are many ways to do this. You can use the omniscient narrator, or a perspective of one or more characters.
Show is perhaps more complex but adds dimension to the story. You can show the same thing by using different character’s perspectives on an event. Point of view is an important writer’s tool. You can show by how your character acts and reacts to events and other characters and emotional situations.
4. It’s Not What You Say.
The author will use a technique of saying something that seems off or out of place at the point in the story it is placed. This is a subtle hint that if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Then the author continues along a different path as if the thing wasn’t important. Was it? Sometimes detail is purposefully omitted in the hopes the reader will not feel the bump in the road or remember what it is connected to, if anything.
Another technique is to begin to speak on a certain topic but then vere off in a different direction leaving an incomplete sentence or a thought unfinished. A story for another time.
Implication exists when the author seems to be saying one thing, or a character as well, but meaning another. Complexity in stories adds depth, meaning and layers to both the story and the characters.
The spirit doesn’t often move me to expressing my opinion about writing publicly. I wonder what I can contribute that hasn’t already been said. In spite of the title, I felt moved to say this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
Marlene Mesot writes contemporary Christian mystery, suspense, romance, short stories and poetry. She has also written a one act play which is included as bonus material in her novel The Purging Fire.
Marlene Mesot, an only child, grandchild and niece from Manchester New Hampshire, and deceased husband Albert, have two sons, two grandchildren and English Mastiff dogs. She is legally blind and moderately deaf due to nerve damage at premature birth. She has loved writing since early childhood.
Marlene holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Keene State in Keene, New Hampshire and a Masters in Library and Information Studies from U-NC Greensboro, North Carolina.
Be sure to visit her website at: http://www.marlsmenagerie.com
And check out her new Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Marls-Menagerie-186054134757613/