Tracy O’Neill Recommends...

“Often when two of my characters are in a room together, they’ll reach a point at which neither wants to converse with the other anymore. They’ve talked and talked, and though they can’t advance the dialogue, they are forced to remain in the same space. Maybe it’s a home or a job or an airplane. The problem arises when I’m not sure how to make the story run without the characters speaking. Yet if you’ve ever watched a film on mute, you know that when language is stripped away, you read the movements. You remember the awkward ballet of two angry people trying to cook in a New York City kitchen, how bitterly one can jerk the top off of a pickle jar. When I’m jammed up, I look for the story to work outside of dialogue. I look for the emotional grammar in silences, where the things that seem unspeakable live. The gesture can sometimes speak to a reader, even if the characters fail to register its significance. My work as a writer then becomes evocative choreography. It is an impulse born of remembering that even fictional people have bodies.”
—Tracy O’Neill, author of The Hopeful (Ig Publishing, 2015)

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