Never underestimate the power of silence.
Whether it’s prose, movies, or comics, a beat of silence can do a lot for storytelling. More than you’d think, even.
It can create tension. It can resolve tension. It can create emotional depth by letting the last words – or the words to come – dominate the audience’s thoughts. It can allow for visuals, rather than dialogue, to tell the story. Of everything in your storyteller’s toolbox, your best asset is and always will be nothing.
A single moment of silence in a drama can be destructive. The same amount of silence in an action movie can be calming, and in a horror movie, it could be positively terrifying. Silence is versatile. Silence will do what words can’t. It will go where words can’t go, and it will create mystery where there is none.
But for you folks that love lists, I’ll give you three general principles to follow when using silence.
1) Never underestimate your audience.
2) Never underestimate what silence will do for them.
3) Never underestimate what silence will do to them.