Negative spacepublished: 2009-01-15
Flamenco classes have started again. And my teacher said something interesting. We were dancing a Soliana which is slow. You take a step and wait ages before taking another one, during which time you feel entirely uncomfortable about your limbs. She said: "the challenge in flamenco is to use the spaces between the steps, when nothing seems to happen, that's where everything is said."
During my most recent script-session, our advisor explained how the director and I should make more use of "negative space", ie what we want to say should lie in the spaces we're not saying anything, where our character's aren't talking or doing something."Like in art," he said and stood up, put his hand on his waist, sticking his elbow out. With his other hand he gestured towards the space of air between his arm and body, that triangle of nothingness. "This," he said about the space, "is what makes for composition."
What's true for dance, screenwriting and art must also be true for proze. For my novel, I had been breaking my head over the question how my character should react to a specific set-back I've given him. I've now decided I won't describe his true reactions or feelings at all, I'll write about the vile taste of his coffee, or the whistle of a train he just missed.
That’s so yuun-fan! I mimicked the exact same gesture about negative space to my partners first thing after our session….;-)