What you don’t say

I’ve begun reading the Memoirs of Vidocq: Master of Crime. It’s fun to read something so outside my usual! I’ve also delighted in how Vidocq chooses to show and not tell. Take a look at this one:

My sojourn would not have been troubled except for another adventure. I spare details, but it is sufficient to say that I was arrested dressed in women’s clothes as I was fleeing from the wrath of a jealous husband.

He tells us just enough and by leaving so much unsaid, we are let in on an adventure. He does it again later on the same page:

His sister, whose good intentions in my regard we already know, doubled her allurements. On the other hand, the constant sight of her insensibly made me conscious of her lack of attractiveness. In brief, things came to the point that I was not astonished to have her declare one day that she was going to have a child.

In your writing, it can be good to let something go unsaid. Of course it takes wisdom to know when to do this, but don’t be afraid to let your protagonists allow something to be silent and tell much more about them than otherwise.


2 thoughts on “What you don’t say

  1. The only downside is when you’re trying to write a story that crosses a certain word count line, and you are on a time limit, and you’re trying to find the balance between “hold back” and “get more words on the page”. Am I right?

    But I agree with everything you said here.

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