"It Is Not Your Raging Silence Anymore"

In my latest A-Z post for Adamantine I mentioned my use of silent dialogue and I realized (too late) that I could be misconstrued in my meaning.  How amusing that that should happen to me while I'm talking about dialogue and communication...  It's possible that you thought I meant internalizing, thoughts, that sort of thing.  The dry, ironic part of me which is more like Rhodri digs me in the ribs on this point because I consider myself really bad at writing down people's thoughts in books, and yet Margaret, unlike Adamant, never talks to herself so that all of her thoughts must, necessarily, be done in that awkward, odious manner of italics, accurately disjointed (as thoughts often are) and yet logical enough to keep the reader.  I have painted myself into the proverbial corner and there is nothing I can do but slog it out and hope it gets a little easier as I know Margaret a little better. 

A little late for you to come into an inheritance of caution! she thought angrily.

But that is not what I mean.  Both Margaret and Adamant (I have not yet delved deep enough into the characters of Gingerune to determine their relationships) are closely linked to one other character in their stories.  I'll readily admit that these two circumstances probably stem from my own extremely interconnected friendship or soul-link with my husband, and perhaps admitting that right off the bat will help you understand what I mean by silent dialogue.  Maybe not.  Between these four characters there is such an easy, unquestioning link that they need not speak to each other to know what the other is thinking.

If you have ever experienced this level of connection, you know that's all very well for you, but the potential difficulty lies in communicating this voiceless communication to the reader and that is why I am concerned that, being too ready to indulge in this kind of conversation (there is less room for flippancy in it and more chance for warmth and camaraderie), editors and readers might look at me askance.  Happily I'm skilled in the abstract (as skilled as a blind drunk man is skilled with the quarterstaff) and silent dialogue is very abstract, and somehow (unlike Lewis I have not yet the knack for watching my own abstract step out of its spectral shape into something you can poke and bleed) by some magical art of wordcrafting, I have thus far managed to communicate the movement, the energy, of two minds in union.
[He] got up, his fists clenched, a ring of blackened gold around the crest of him; taking her eyes off the wreck of Bazel Púka, Margaret saw, for a moment, a kinship between him and [Rupert] which had never been before, which would never be again.
A look in the eye, a turn of the head, a change in the atmosphere.  I'm dealing with things the characters do not speak, but feel, and I must make it visual in such a way that it translates to your emotions, so that you feel it as well.  How I do it, I am never sure.  I almost never think, "Here I go, I am writing now," when I am writing (it is more like an enchantment than anything else) and there is no formula for the art - no formula for souls of potent mixtures in thin skins.  So when you asked me what I meant by silent dialogue, I thought, "Ah ha, I will tell you!  ...No, I can't."  But you're smart cookies.  I've watched you react to my writing and I am sure you get it now that I have haphazardly explained.

I dare swear, the hardest part of being an author is being asked how I do what I do.

6 ripostes:

  1. Haha! I definitely relate to that last quote. :)
    Yes, now I see waht you mean! Those moments between characters are so rare, yet probably my favorites. When they just seem to have this close connection that you never realized, and it practically writes itself. <3

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  2. Well in this case I will admit to using--or feeling, rathet--silent dialog in my own life. Writing it is another matter. Loving it, yet another.

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  3. Now that I understand what you mean, I relate too and I love 'silent dialogue'. I am not so 100% sure how often I use that (being rather unskilled in that field), but I love it when I see/experience it in life and when I read it in great tales and stories =D.

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  4. I hate writing thought in italics too. So I always just put the person's thoughts into the narrative like "He pulled himself up again and grunted, why couldn't Roddy slow down a little?"

    Silent dialogue is wonderful,I'm not satisfied with my own way of working it though I certainly make use of it in real life. Ah well, I suppose that's one of the things that comes with practice.

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  5. Hey, I tagged you at my blog! Merry Christmas!

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  6. :P Silent dialogue is so hard to describe... I was visiting a family the other day, and finding their wordless conversations absolutely delightful - but boy, was I stumbling later trying to explain what the visit was like!
    And I miss your writing... maybe I'll reread The Shadow Things before school starts again... :)

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