Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday's Children - Ikebana

Thursday's Children - Ikebana 

Or: Things Left Unsaid

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Much of the beauty of an Ikebana arrangement comes from the space between the branches.  

The space in between feels like silence. 
When writing dialogue, it's such a temptation to fill moments with words, to let the characters explain everything, reveal their motives. It would be so easy for MC to profess "eternal love" to Love Interest. Or for Parent to reveal Big Secret to Child.

But real life doesn't work that way. Unless we're with someone 24/7 from the moment of their birth, we can never fully know everything that happened to them, nor everything they think or feel.

It's the same thing with finding a branch or twig or particular flower. We can infer what happened to it by how the branch bends, how a twig curls, the scars or perfection of a bloom. 

Stuff a bunch of them into a vase and you can get a decent bouquet.

Displayed in an Ikebana arrangement, though, individual components blend into a story. 

Stems, branches, flowers. 

But the spaces in between, the silence, holds the things that can't be said or emotions that defy words. 

And the things we can't or don't say can define us as much as the things we choose to talk about. 

Silence is a form of dialogue.

What are topics that are taboo for you? What are topics your characters can't or won't talk about? Do your characters have words they would never use like Faith, Son, God, Penis, Dong, Caulk, Love?

(I had some Ikebana photos but couldn't find them on my PC. I'll take some new ones. In the meantime, please enjoy this photo of a puppy.)

Here are some links to some of my favorite Ikebana photos on the interwebz:
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  1. Lovely post, as always! AND cute gratuitous puppy pic! Did you really mean caulk? Or cock? My characters typically have secrets they reveal to other characters over time, once trust is established. But even then, they often don't say absolutely everything because I agree, sometimes silence speaks volumes, and is louder than words. There, how's that for crow-barring two cliches into one sentence...

  2. Ikebana, what isn't there, is a cool concept. I'm not sure what my characters won't talk about. I'm going to think about it and when I have the answer I know it'll make my story stronger. Thanks.

  3. Great post! I never knew that *that* was called Ikebana, but I love it and love your take on their arrangement. Silence is crucial. Those undertones that your readers should just FEEL. Yes, so important. Not much is taboo for me (depending on character and story of course), but things are definitely left unsaid and only certain secrets are revealed...over time.

  4. I didn't know that was called Ikebana, either, but I love your explanation. :) I also enjoyed the puppy picture!

  5. This is a wonderful analogy. I love it! I have a friend here in Hong Kong who studies Japanese flower arranging but I'm afraid I don't have the patience. Your post has inspired me to try again! Thanks so much for joining us!

  6. Great post! Just what I needed to read right now, as a matter of fact. Thanks! Also, those pictures are beautiful...