I hate exclamation points. I’m not that kind of a person. I don’t yell, and my stories are not super-animated. I’m like Barney when I tell stories, the ex-Doogie Howser Barney, not the big purple dinosaur…wait for it…
That’s why I love ellipses… a written pause.
I don’t think the verbal equivalent works quite as well unless you have a captive audience. Like I said, I’m not a loud person, so if I’m in a group I usually have to tell my story quickly so I don’t get railroaded by the more verbose, aka LOUD, members. A pause at a sports bar or party is about as effective as that protective cushion they teach you in Driver’s Ed–if you actually leave yourself braking distance, someone else will inevitably nose their way into your space.
I love pauses in stories…well, maybe only when I’m telling them. I do tend to jump in and finish other people’s thoughts for them. There is a knack to knowing how long a pause you can get away with. One car length, two…three?? Nope–see that? I just jumped in and cut you off.
Someone once told me a good reason go into teaching–the captive audience. But I guess that also works for preachers, lawyers, actors and politicians. The dramatic pause to make the point…imagine a room full of people who not only have to listen quietly, but actually need the information.
The dramatic pause…we don’t get many chances to pause in our society and we need them to function. Stop, turn off the TV, move away from the laptop, and yes, go stick the cell phone on the charger for a while and DON’T CHECK IT FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES. This is known as the Technology Pause. I used to make my husband go on Technology Vacation for a couple of days, but that’s a lost cause now. But we do have a record of keeping the TV off for a whole week, so I’ll take what I can get, especially since I’m pretty addicted to my iPhone now too.
Here are some other types of pauses we need daily:
1. The Witty Pause: Sometimes cleverness takes a while to get. You, the storyteller, need to give the dumb-asses a chance to catch up.
2. The Dramatic Pause: It really does make a story better. As long as it’s an interesting story to start with, otherwise it’s just dragging on the agony.
3. The Appreciative Pause: When you actually get the joke…”ohhhhh…nice…”
4. The _______ Pause: When faced with sheer beauty in whatever form. Be dumbstruck.
5. The Sublime Pause: When faced with a mixture of awesome and terrifying. Can be morbid fascination.
6. The Worshipful Pause: Take a moment to thank God and dwell in His presence.
7. The Sensory Pause: Actually stop and revel in the taste of your food, the smell of your coffee, the way the breeze feels against your skin.
I know better than to tell our society to slow down too much, so a pause seems like a compromise everyone can do. A couple of seconds? You have time for that. Your brain and soul will thank you for it.