This is another post from the Archive. I’ve hit a point in my current working project where I’ve had to take stock of what is there and what isn’t there in the story so far. This post came to mind as a guide for me as I am reviewing the almost 80,000 words I’ve already written.
I’ve just read a great article by Gwenna Laithland advising writers to use ‘white noise’.
Basically, white noise is the void – the bits you leave out which the reader then projects their own thoughts and imagination onto.
Laithland uses the example of a Harry Potter stage show casting Hermione Grainger with a black actress. J.K. Rowling admits that she never specified her heroine’s skin colour.
I often get caught up in feeling the need to give more detail in description and narration – partly because I write dialogue much more easily and my pages can quickly resemble a play script.
I like writers at both ends of the spectrum. The very precise and detailed, and the void.
So which is best?
I suppose the answer is write with detail when you need to manouveur the reader into a specific place and embrace the void where it really doesn’t matter.
I am still working on this.
I’ve come to realise that the Void can also be used in the plotting of a story also.
What you need to reveal to the reader and what they can deduce for themselves.
The trick seems to be letting go of your own imagined, or fixed, view of the story and allowing the reader the space to become properly involved themselves.
The void allows them to bring their imagination to the story, even if you plot line turns out not to be what they imagined – Jack Reacher creator Lee Child is very good at this, giving you lots of room to try and work out what the ‘bad guys’ are really up to.
So good luck with Embracing the Void!