The problem with writing is that we can't use silence to convey silence. We can press return a few times, make the eye notice empty space, and hope the reader pauses good and long. But what about the conversation between characters, portrayed so easily in movies, in which silence enhances their discomfort through only visual emotions? Remember Raging Bull, where Jake, ready to take a beating, stares down his opponent? All the sound and music—crowd cheering, jeering; chairs scraping; announcer talking; coach yelling commands, swearing; sweat dripping—cuts out for one cruel moment of anticipation between us and the two fighters. We know what will happen, but for those couple seconds. . . .
Beside me sit two books, summer projects, totaling more words than I'm comfortable with, and I will read every single one of them in near-complete silence. If a wonderful phrase occurs I may reread it aloud, but otherwise these books are quiet the whole way through. They don't talk, and I ain't reading Infinite Jest aloud. We have no silence because it all is silence—at least every moment that is not dialogue. If you want to add stillness into your action or your dialogue, look to a good book and see what happens when nobody's speaking, because that moment is completely still.