Thursday, 31 May 2012


I was looking for inspiration in art, and not for the first time.

I came across an art blog - Today in art - it listed drawing exercises an artist should do every day.

I was fascinated by Negative Space.

For at least five minutes I thought linking this to writing was a new invention ;)

On Litreactor I found examples of writers using negative space to highlight the thing that no one wanted to speak about, but was critical in the scene.

As Today in art says to practice, and Lit reactor provided examples, I took Hemingway's scene (originally from "Hills like White Elephants" and experimented. I MG-ed it. 

“It won’t seem like any time at all, son,” the man said. “Twelve weeks is nothing.”
The boy looked at his suitcase where rested in the boot of the car, there was a lot of empty space around it.
“I know you’ll be busy, Tom. Lot of new things to get used to. The excitement of being away, for the first time.”
The boy didn’t say anything.
“I’ll drive down there with you and I won’t leave until you’re all settled in. Remember, the staff are used to new boys. They know the drill, they’ll see that you're alright.”
“I won’t be there forever?”
“No, silly… of course not. Before you know it, I’ll be back to pick you up.”
“It’s not like you’ll have any time to miss me. They fill the days with lessons and pack the weekends with activities.”
The boy tugged at his tie, he had to work it hard, backwards and forwards, before it came loose. 
“And you’re going to be OK?”
“Of course, I’ll be great. You don’t need to worry about me. People have been doing this kind of thing for years and they all survived the experience.”
“Some boys I met at the open-air pool, this summer, told me they went there,” said the boy. “And they didn’t seem to think it was too bad.”
“See,” the man said, “if they didn’t like it, they would've told you. I’d never send you away if I didn’t think you’d be happy. It is the best thing, you know.”
“Do people always have to have what’s best?”
“I don’t want to settle for second best. You shouldn’t have to make do with Good… not when you can have the best.”
“And if I work hard there, and I make you proud, will you love me?”
“You know I love you, son.”
“Oh. But when I come back will you be happy to see me?”
“Very happy. I’ll love it. This isn’t the time to worry about all that. We’ll have lots of time together, soon.”
“When I’m gone you won’t have to worry about me.”
“I won’t worry because I know you’ll be happy. You’ll be happy and I’ll be happy too."

I scribbled around the outside, and left a great big hole for them both, inside. 



  1. I usually like to stick with the same but that just makes my writing bland. What a wonderful writing concept: Negative space. Brilliant.

    1. Hi Clarissa
      Looking at the art - the logos and sketches - where negative space is used so effectively, I thought I was the first person to think this could be a very emotive tool in my writing.
      I found examples of negative space being used brilliantly and experimented with writing a scene like it. It was great fun.

  2. yes all the time--love this post!