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Writing Exercise: Spoken Silences

Updated: 6 days ago

a boy and a girl do not speak to each other, with their backs turned

1) Introduction to the exercise and its purpose:

The exercise aims to further strengthen the "Show, Don't Tell" technique by focusing on conveying moods and interpersonal tensions through the use of actions, gestures, and environmental details, rather than through explicit dialogue or direct descriptions. This method allows for the construction of a more subtle and deeply engaging narrative.

2) The situation:

Elena and Thomas, a couple going through a difficult period in their relationship, decide to take a walk in a public park to try to clarify their feelings.

3) The exercise:

Recount the attempted dialogue between Elena and Tommaso, focusing on their nonverbal actions and reactions to show the level of tension and emotional distance between the two. Avoid using direct dialogue to express their feelings.

4) Tips and development of the exercise:

Begin by describing the park setting, using elements such as the wind moving the leaves of the trees or the long shadow of an early sunset that perhaps symbolizes the decline of their relationship. Describe how Elena avoids walking near Tommaso, leaving a space between them that would not normally exist. You could show how Thomas runs a hand through his hair, a gesture he makes when he is frustrated or uncertain, and how he occasionally casts a glance toward Elena hoping for eye contact that does not come. Elena, for her part, might pause to watch a group of children play, perhaps symbolizing a desire for simplicity and joy that she feels is missing in their relationship.

Conclude with an extended pause in which they both look at the water of a small lake, each reflecting on their own thoughts without sharing them. After completing the narrative, check that the actions described clearly convey the tension and feelings of the characters without resorting to verbal explanations. Ask for feedback to ensure that the tension is palpable through the descriptions provided.


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