Watching the men’s gymnastics competition last night, I was struck again by how much I like a good pause. Check out a great one here. In the Olympics, on So You Think You Can Dance, in a drum corps show…sometimes the best moments in the entire show are when a performer (or a whole field full of them) suddenly goes still. In the midst of a million impressive moves, that stillness can be the most attention-getting of all, whether it is holding a very tough pose (like the image linked to above) or just putting the period at the end of an unbelievably skilled set or setting up the focus on what’s about to happen. In each situation, the moment of stillness gives the watcher/reader a moment to catch her breath and appreciate what has happened or is about to happen.
I love a good pause in writing, too, and I don’t think I’ve been doing enough of it. In a poem, a pause might be several blank lines after a particular weighty one (hey, did you catch how important that was, reader!). In a picture book, a wordless spread or nearly wordless spread might do the trick. In a novel, an extra line space or?a chapter break might indicate the moment, the beat you’re looking for. In one of the poems I work on today, I’m going to look for an opportunity to use a pause–one that is deserved, which means I need a lot of great stuff all around that pause or it will just be boring!
Maybe a pause is something you or your students can try to incorporate into your own work.