Reply To: Day 14: Daring Dialogue

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Thank you so much, Anna, for sharing with us some great television and movies and books to read! I LOVE getting recommendations, and that Australian series sounds amazing!

I love that you write with silences and sidesteps! As for some examples for writing silences, I, like James Scott Bell, think Hemingway was amazing at this. In James Scott Bell’s Dazzling Dialogue, he includes snippets from two of Hemingway’s short stories–“Hills Like White Elephants,” and “Soldier’s Home”. Here’s a snippet from “Soldier’s Home”:

“God has some work for everyone to do,” his mother said. “There can’t be no idle hands in His Kingdom.”

“I’m not in His Kingdom,” Krebs said.

“We are all of us in His Kingdom.”

Krebs felt embarrassed and resentful as always.

“I’ve worried about you so much, Harold,” his mother went on. “I know the temptations you must have been exposed to. I know how weak men are. I know what your own dear grandfather, my own father, told us about the Civil War and I have prayed for you. I pray for you all day long, Harold.”

Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on the plate.

-Bell, James Scott. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript (pp. 85-86). Compendium Press. Kindle Edition.

The character Krebs is silent twice during this interaction–once when his mother tells him he is in fact part of what she calls God’s Kingdom and again when his mother says she’s prayed for him. In the first example of Krebs’ silence, he feels things–embarrassment and resentment. In the second silence, he stares at the bacon fat hardening on his plate. In the first silence, Hemingway tells us what Krebs is feeling. In the second, we can guess what he is feeling, but the image of bacon fat hardening–also the word hardening does double duty here–which means it’s getting cold, conveys the image of a hardening coldness forming between Krebs and his mother. This image conveys so much more than anything Krebs might have thought to say, don’t you think?

I hope you have lots of fun playing with silences and sidesteps, and I’m sure you’re doing brilliantly!



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