Without a Word

I’m trying something unusual with the current story I’m working on.

The character that I’m following right now is a little girl with a rough childhood.  She’s smart and tough, but has to be independent at a young age.   (Her mother sold her as an infant, and she was raised at a laundry that serves as a front for human trafficking.  She escapes and lives alone as a street urchin for a while before joining up with several other children.)

While she has the ability to talk, and certainly does so throughout her life, I’ve decided that she isn’t going to speak in the first scenes in which we encounter her.  She communicates just fine, with looks and nods, and no one questions her lack of words.  It’s made me think more about the dialogue around her, and how to describe her responses.

It didn’t start out as something intentional, but I noticed it after the first few scenes and decided to see if I could keep it going.  It’s worked so far, and I should now be at a section where she’ll need to say something.  The next chunk of story that I have planned is when she first encounters the group of kids she joins, and I have a great line in mind for the first time we hear her speak.

She’ll always be a character that listens and watches first and speaks only when necessary, and I think this is a great way to establish that personality trait with the readers (even if they may not realize that it’s been done intentionally).

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