Friday, July 22, 2005
WHAT IS INVISIBLE INK?
"There is no art which does not conceal a still greater art." – Percival Wilde
Often when I listen to how people evaluate stories, I hear them talk about dialogue. When they talk about “the script” for a film they are often talking about the dialogue. Or when they mention how well a book is written, they most often mean they way the words are put together—the beauty of a sentence.
When people speak of Shakespeare’s work they almost always talk about the beauty of the language.
These are all forms of “visible ink.” This term refers to writing that is readily “seen” by the reader or viewer. They often mistake these words on the page as the only writing that the storyteller is doing.
But how events in a story are ordered is also writing. What events should occur in a story to make the teller’s point is also writing. Why a character behaves in a particular way is also writing.
These are all forms of “invisible ink,” so called because it is not easily spotted by a reader, viewer, or listener of a story. Invisible ink does, however, have a profound impact on a story. More to the point, they are the story itself. Invisible ink is the writing below the surface of the words. Most people will never see, or notice it, but they will feel it. If you learn to use it, your work will feel polished, professional, and it will have a profound impact on your audience.