I am finishing a short story by describing how the silence of a deceased character is more unnerving than that character's cries before he died.

Is there a simile to describe a traumatic or gut-wrenching scene?

  • If you can think of a more specific question to ask that would help, please feel free to use the edit function to change this and well consider reopening. Feb 23 '16 at 16:40
  • @Neil (or others), do you think that with some revision this should be transplanted to EL&U? Feb 24 '16 at 4:41
  • @KaiMaxfield Maybe? It's worth trying, certainly. Feb 24 '16 at 20:32
  • @KaiMaxfield I'm not a mode there or even a frequent user, so I'd ask in their chat room. (You have sufficient rep there.) But I'd emphasize the part of the question asking for a term over the part that talks about writing. Feb 24 '16 at 20:52
  • 1
    @Standback How is this off-topic for Writers? ELU isn't really into writing advice.
    – Mitch
    Feb 24 '16 at 23:04

You could mention that it's like a beating heart being ripped from someone's chest. One second beating, the next silent and still.

There's something conclusive about dead silence. When a dying person cries, there's still hope for survival but in the silence that follows death, it's a hopeless black void.

The silence symbolizes the shift from life to death.

You could describe it as "jarring". Like the shock of a bucket of ice water being poured over your head. I think "unnerving" fits pretty well too.


Silence itself can be unnerving.
A ghostly slice or emptiness can be eerie. Or perhaps the calm after a tornado surrounded by the visual display of destruction.


I'd call this "The silence of the lambs". While recent, this simile has wormed it's way into many heads.



Consider putting in blank lines and/or many spaces between words to represent the silence. That makes the reader read “silence” and experience it along with the character. It is a fairly common poetry technique but is also used in prose.


he breathed                     and breathed          and        then


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