Readers Adore a Vacuum

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Truly empty space is an aberration, something not to be tolerated.  Nature compensates by thrusting matter towards the vacuum.  That is how empty space, instead of being a powerless void, becomes a powerful force that attracts and draws in matter.  Vacuums suck.  Literally.

The application for writers?  Leave some blank spaces in your writing and storytelling. Remember that law of physics for writers, “Show don’t tell.”  Writers who explain too much fill up a scene with details, facts, or interior narration that clutters up the story.  It prevents readers from using their imagination because everything is spelled out for them, every possibility explored and catalogued.  It leaves readers bored and repulsed.  Let the readers have fun creating their own interpretation.  There’s no fun in playing in somebody else’s sandbox when all the toys have been grabbed and labelled (usually with adverbs).

A beautiful example of the power of the unwritten word is Conor Powers-Smith’s ‘Love for Sale’ in Pulp Literature Issue 3.    Read it again, and notice how the author piques your curiosity, leaving most of the technical explanation and the intentions of the main character unsaid.  Even the ending is defined by what’s not there, rather than what is.

The best writers use blank space to draw in the reader, and the best readers can’t resist filling in the gaps of a story.  Don’t put off readers with too much information.  Welcome readers to your door, open it wide, and stand back.  Let them enter the room and explore your world for themselves.  Let their curiosity pull them inside because … (wait for it)…
a good story sucks.

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