This is a spoiler alert.
If you haven’t seen the episode of the Office where Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) leaves the show, you’re about to learn the ending. But, there was a tremendous blogging tip hidden in that episode that I don’t want any of us to miss.
As you know, the premise of the office is that they are filming a show within a show and all the cast members are constantly talking to the camera.
In the last scene with Michael Scott, he removes his microphone at the airport and hands it back to a cameraman. The world goes silent. He mouths a single sentence and then walks away. From off camera, Pam, his secretary runs into the airport and they have a silent conversation. They hug. Michael walks away.
That was brilliant.
What they did in that moment was allow you to write the scene. Can imagine the impossibility of writing the perfect last conversation for Michael Scott to have on the Office? Should it be goofy? Should it be heartwarming? Should it be drawn out or quick? No matter the direction the writers went, someone in the viewing audience was going to have unmet expectations. Unless, they allowed the audience to write the scene.
By creating silence, they allowed each person to write their own dialog. To imagine what was being said, to fill in the space with their own words and hopes and dreams. And the reason this is so brilliant is that the writers of the Office don’t have access to your words. Remember that beach you used to go to in Ipswich, Massachusetts? Crane’s beach, with the castle on the shore and the way your bike tires felt in the sand the closer you got there? You could see a thin sliver of the ocean from the roof of your house when you’d sit up there with your dad. He was painting houses and going to seminary and life was full, but it didn’t matter because you had the beach. A real life, north shore, clams and seashells, New England beach.
You don’t remember that because those are the words I have in my head for beach. And if you write a blog post that has “silent moments” and isn’t so full of your story that you don’t leave any room for mine, those are the words I’ll use.
At the end of the episode, Pam summarized her conversation with Michael, but there was a sense that she didn’t say everything. And neither should you when it comes to blogging. Leave room for the reader. Leave space for the reader. Leave silence for the reader.
And I promise you, they’ll find an amazing story of their own inside yours.