White Space – And Why I Love It.

I have always been very fond of introducing white space in my writings, and not because I want to pad my work and make it seem longer.

I think a long, unbroken paragraph gives this reader the opportunity to find herself being lulled along by the rhythm of the words, until she finds she’s forgotten what was meant.  For me, it’s a trap, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

I’ve just been reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, in which the writing is very complex and interesting, but the paragraphs so dense I often had to stop near the end of a paragraph half the length of a page and make myself start over again to remember what she started out to say.  It is work, and gives me an opportunity to put the book down and say to myself I’ll get back to this later.  Maybe I will.

That’s a great danger for any writer.  When the reader puts the book down, there’s a good chance they won’t pick it up again.  I think those moments are to be avoided by a writer.  There are already enough distractions in life that force the reader to put a book down.

With Funke, part of the issue is that she was writing in German, a language just perfect for long sentences.  And I’m sure that German readers are used to this.  Perhaps they are trained to be more attentive to dense prose.

The people I write for, for the most part, are not.  I myself prefer to read with breaks in the prose, letting me know the subject, or the voice is changing.

So therefore, the white space.  See it in the previous paragraphs?

4 thoughts on “White Space – And Why I Love It.”

  1. Your work has a rhythm and grace to it that I appreciate. Narrative flow is a good thing, and great chunky paragraphs make my brain hurt at times.

    I mentioned elsewhere that I see things cinematically, and, while rereading “Tea”, I see the action, and I’m tempted to adapt it into a script as a writing exercise. I think it would be fun.

    1. As you please, Michael. Someone did try to adapt it once, or rather asked me to. Perhaps 33 years ago. She was a Soap Opera actress who got in touch with me through my agent. She wanted Frank Langella for the part. She was first obviously offended that I didn’t recognize her name, and when I doubtfully repeated “Frank Langella?” She hung up on me. That was the end of that.

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