…A train whistled? A car honked? A dog barked? A dog definitely barked.
One of the most important parts of novel-writing is the quiet moments, the moments in between, where a reader can breathe. According to this great hilarious article (that was lost in my junk mail for these past months and I am lucky enough to have found!) we authors tend to fill these crucial points with barking dogs.
In his post from a few backs, Lawrence talks about what he calls ‘normal’ scenes, scenes that give space, and how they difficult they are to ensure the reader does not lose interest. It’s all about giving the reader something they don’t think they want – on the sly. But what about those moments, those oh so necessary lulls? How do we create them without losing the reader, or sounding like an old hat?
“Perhaps distant dogs are a way for novelists to wink at one another, at their extraordinary luck for being allowed into the publishing club.”says Rosecrans Baldwin on the article linked above (it’s definitely worth a read! It gave me a great laugh!).
“Most authors, however, employ the trope as a narrative rest stop, an innocuous way to fill space and time; since the bark is hollow, a reader can read anything into it, or nothing at all.”
But, do we want that? Do we want emptiness? NO! We want these spaces to be full. We do not want be amateurs, as Baldwin points out.
Well, writing is a work in progress, ALWAYS. I am curious to know if I have dogs barking in the distance in any of my fiction, or thunder rumbling….
Not only do these lulls have to be full of the right stuff (a loud silence?? oh writing, how confounding you are sometimes!), they have to be timed properly, inserted at the right spots, be the right length, and there can’t be too many. Or too few.
How about you? Do you struggle with the silent spaces? And are they important to you?