"And whenever a few people would pass, she would shoot her eyes over at me really quick hoping I wouldn't see her looking. But I caught her every time, because I was looking at her too."
- Jason Reynolds, The Boy in the Black Suit
There's this thing that happens sometimes when I'm reading a book, and the author lands a moment. It's usually not a big moment. Maybe one or two lines. It's small and it's quiet and it's stripped-down to almost nothing. It's not complicated. Maybe there's no adjectives involved. It just a moment that seeps in and feels deeply and wholly true. Something I can picture exactly and in full sensory detail without any of those details added. Something that can and does take less talented writers pages to describe.
The thing with being great at these quiet, stripped-down moments is that you know when to just let them be. No explanation needed. No follow up summary of emotions. We get it, and it's enough. But, I think great writers also know when a quiet moment of truth works in tandem with a equally brief exposition in a jab-right cross that takes your head off.
Here's another pair of lines from The Boy in the Black Suit.
"It's amazing how you know when a room has light in it, even when you have your eyes closed. Light always wins."
Sometimes you can let it lie. But sometimes, you can spell it out too - just a little - and watch the ref count it down on the mat.