Story-fixing Your Novel––Part IX

This lesson will be a challenge for me, because although I understand the concept, I’ve not used it as much in my writing. Subtext––is what’s really meant, not what’s said. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

Subtext is the deeper meaning in a scene. It’s conveyed alongside surface actions that are happening at the same time. It’s “reading between the lines.”

Because, with subtext, things are not as they appear to be.

WYSIWYG is not in play here. (what you see is what you get).

With a scene based on subtext, you can’t trust what happens, you can only trust what’s been shown in a roundabout way. Subtext can be used successfully:

  • In narration to show emotion behind the action
  • In dialogue to say what’s not being said
  • In silence, through the use of pauses, to set up a plot twist
  • Through evasion to evade revealing the real intention

Quick Fix

What is the scene principally about, in spite of what the characters might be saying or doing? What is implied? That’s your reader takeaway.

Fine–Tuning Your Manuscript

  • Will the readers understand the subtext in the scene, able to figure out what the scene is really about? If not, how can you layer more meaning into the silences, dialogue, or action?
  • Is the subtext hurting or helping the story? Did you insert too much subtext in too many places?
  • Are there any missed opportunities to insert subtext? How can you take advantage of those moments or story events?
  • Are there any places where the character answers one way, but based on context, let readers understand that he/she really means the opposite of what’s said?

Most of the time, something deeper is going on in a story. Think of the emotion, the pain, the passion. It’s flowing, churning, and surging right there just beneath the surface. That’s the concept of subtext––bringing that volcano that’s simmering underneath, to the surface without being obvious. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

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