Quick and Dirty Tips for Subtext

I have picked up today’s con­tri­bu­tion from a blog called Writ­ing Rad­i­cal­ly, it is about the use of sub­text, which is some­thing we should strive to under­stand and use more of, it is a very pow­er­ful fic­tion writ­ing tool. Accord­ing to Writ­ing Rad­i­cal­ly “Sub­text hap­pens when there is more to the sto­ry than the words on the page, but this extra lay­er of nuance is nev­er explic­it­ly unpacked by the writer. It is lit­er­al­ly what is going on beneath the text of the sto­ry”. Do you have faith in your read­ers? If you use sub­text well the read­er should be able to fig­ure much out for themselves.

How this device is used through the words and thoughts of your char­ac­ters, who often (like real peo­ple) refuse to con­front their feel­ings, the sub­text is the authors way to show what is bub­bling under the sur­face. Real peo­ple bot­tle up their feel­ings so char­ac­ters must do so as well, fic­tion­al char­ac­ters can­not be an open book, the writer must keep some­thing hid­den or hint­ed. read this piece and you will bet­ter under­stand how to make use of subtext.

The view from Writ­ing Rad­i­cal­ly is…

Every­one has seen sub­text. It’s what cre­ates ten­sion in oth­er­wise inno­cent exchanges, lends nuance to dia­logue, and adds com­pli­ca­tion to fic­tion. Sub­text is the rea­son why we all know that our favorite pair­ing is meant to be togeth­er, even if they will nev­er be cannon.

Sub­text is one of the things that makes fic­tion excel­lent. And if you want to cre­ate the sort of sto­ries that peo­ple write smut­ty fan fic­tion about, (or, you know, a lit­er­ary mas­ter­piece, although the two are not exclu­sive), sub­text is your best friend.

What exact­ly is subtext?

Source: Quick and Dirty Tips for Subtext

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