Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SUBTEXTING - THE REAL MEANING BEHIND THE WORDS


Hello world, it’s Monday and I’m happy to be here blogging on The Suspense Sisters. This is Lynette, by the way.

I hope everyone’s had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and is back in the routine of life. LOL. I love the holidays, but I have to admit, I like my routine when I get back to it. Part of my routine is speaking to different writers groups. This past Saturday morning I spoke to a great group in Greenville, South Carolina called The Writers Plot.

I had such great feedback, I thought I’d share a a little bit about the topic:

SUBTEXTING

But what is that?

Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Subtexting is the hidden meaning beneath words and gestures. 

 
Linda Seger says in her Writing Subtext book, “Subtext is the true meaning simmering underneath the words and actions. It’s the real, unadulterated truth. The text is the tip of the iceberg, but the subtext is everything underneath that bubbles up and informs the text. It’s the implicit meaning rather than the explicit meaning. Subtext points to other meanings. It’s important that authors learn to write subtext so audiences will understand that more is going on than meets the eye. Writers point the way. They choose suggestive words and describe revealing behavior so that audiences get a whole lot more information than they could ever get from just a line of dialogue.

In other words, go deeper. Let your characters mean more than they’re saying.

There are several ways to express subtext. One is by saying something but meaning the opposite. Example:

Setup: Erin’s boss just told her that the company was downsizing and unfortunately, they had to let her go.

Erin twisted the knob and stepped into the foyer. The smell of fried chicken wafted to her from the kitchen. Paul appeared in the doorway, wiping his hands on a rag. “Hey sweetie, how was your day?”

“Lovely. Couldn’t have been better.” Erin gripped her briefcase and tossed it on the bottom step. She took her suit coat off and dropped it on the floor. “Just wonderful,” she snarled.

She ignored Paul’s raised brow and went to the bedroom they’d shared for the last ten years. How was she going to break this to him?

So, what’s the subtext here? Erin comes home and when asked how was her day, what does she say? Exactly the opposite of how her day really was.

Linda says, “Even if we recognize subtext, its true meaning might be known to the character but unknown to everyone else. It’s the character’s secret, those little problems and flaws that only he or she understands but doesn’t want others to know about.”

This is just a short snapshot of what subtexting is. There are so many layers, it would take numerous blog posts to cover the material (if you want to know more, let me know and I'll keep going with the subject). But for today, I just wanted to give you a taste of the topic. Hope you found it interesting.

God bless in your writing.

Until next time…

4 comments:

  1. I have this book and I've learned a lot! I'm still working on slipping it into my writing. :)

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  2. Nice blog, Lynette, on a subject that's hard to explain. I think a lot of us do subtext instinctively, but you gave us a way to define what we feel is right for the scene.

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  3. I found this to be real interesting..thanks for sharing it.

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