Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Sound Of Silence


Spiteful words can hurt your feelings, but silence breaks your heart.
(C.S. Lewis)

I'll admit, silence is a pet peeve of mine. And I don't mean the kind of  silence you crave or create yourself. Long walks, sitting down to write, snuggling with your child.

I mean the kind of silence meant to ignore or exclude. 

A friend or family member is angry, and instead of telling you why, they ignore you. A child wants to join a group, but the kids walk away. You try to engage in a conversation with someone on social media and they never respond.

It's the kind of power play that gets under my skin. And the silence can be so difficult to read, you invent your own reasons.

They must be too busy, didn't hear you, can't express their feelings, or are complete A-holes!

And this is when maturity and professionalism come in handy, so you don't jump to conclusions and make a complete fool of yourself. But this is tougher to manage for kids and teens--even adults can go to extreme measures to get someone's attention. All because silence can be MADDENING.

So in your writing, remember that sometimes the power of a scene exists between the dialog. In what remains unsaid. Silence can be so loud, so debilitating, so profound, that it screams to be heard.


(images)

17 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is brilliant, Christina. I hate it when this happens in real life, but it sure makes for great conflict in novels. :D

Pamela Gold said...

I'd like to add whispering to your list. When there are three of you and two of you are whispering. Hate that!

Christina Lee said...

Pam, good one. (ugh)

Meredith said...

Silence is definitely a pet peeve of mine, and such a great device to use in writing! I've made my MC silent in one of my scenes, and it drives the other person crazy. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Absolutely.

I'll admit, if I'm upset, sometimes I need to tell my family to leave me alone for a while. I'd rather cool down, and express my emotions responsibly. But that's not really what you mean, so ... yeah.

Jaime Morrow said...

What a great point, Christina. I know sometimes silence—on Twitter, in my blog comments, in real life—makes me start imagining the worst possible scenarios. Did my post suck? Was my tweet stupid? Is so and so mad at me because I haven't called in a while? It's bonkers, but I still think it.

I have one particular scene that I'm thinking of in my WiP where silence plays a pretty important role. I think you're right about the impact it can have. :)

Christina Lee said...

Meredith and Jaime, I bet your silent scenes are great!

Liz Parker said...

Great post. As someone who delivers silence--not as a weapon but as a way of laying out boundaries--sometimes it's the only way. This is terribly sad but can be necessary for a person's mental health.

Christina Lee said...

Oh, Liz, I think I know what you mean without getting into nitty gritty details. And yes, I hear you. Sometimes depending on the relationship, it IS necessary and I’ve done it myself. Different then what I’m talking about here, but still very valid AND a good consideration in our writing!

Angela Ackerman said...

I remember how much this hurt as a kid. It's sad that sometimes no words at all hurt more than something hurtful, but it does because it makes us doubt our own worth.

Angela

Little Ms J said...

Word. The comments above have just about covered anything I was thinking, but totally appreciate this post.

Summer Ross said...

Great post. I think I'll try to use my silence more effectively in my novel between my two leading ladies.

DL Hammons said...

Being an introvert...and shy...people who try and give me the cold shoulder actually has the opposite affect. I could care less. On the flip side, I have to work hard to make sure people don't think I'm giving them the cold shoulder...when I'm just being my naturally uncommunicative self. :)

Caryn Caldwell said...

So, so true. It kind of goes with characters, too - some are chattier, and some just don't have much to say. The non-chatty ones drive the chatty ones nuts!

By the way, I LOVE the post above, but couldn't find a place to leave a comment. Wonderful!

Aidyl Ewoh said...

Silence… A very powerful thing.
~Aidyl

Lourie said...

I love silence! Especially in the chaos of my life, but the silent treatment is different. I don't like it when people shut you out. It's wrong. How am I to know what I have done wrong if you won't tell me?

SharleneT said...

Shunning is the main tool of the Christian faith, used to bring the errant party to their knees to beg forgiveness and be brought back into the fold. When you're given the silent treatment, someone is trying to make you subservient to them. It's your choice as to whether or not you're going to give them that power.

A thousand years ago, when I was first married, my husband tried the silent treatment. Don't know where it came from but I said something like, "Really. I didn't know you were so childish. You've raised yourself in your own esteem; and lowered yourself in mine. Was that what you were trying to do?" Within ten minutes, he came round, apologized, and then we discussed what was wrong.

Great post. Come visit when you can.