Monday, April 14, 2014


by Kathryn Flatt

Jack Watson Series, Vol. 1

Tabitha Solo thought nothing of dropping the name of Scot Cunningham, the object of her high school crush who recently died in a car crash, as the inspiration for her first hit song, “Dreamer,” during a TV interview. But now, the FBI is asking about him, people are following her, and Carren Bixby--Tabitha’s manager and Scot’s one-time girlfriend--is behaving suspiciously. When Tabitha finds a listening device in her bedroom, she runs away and hires private detective Jack Watson.

Question from the e-mail: What is subtext? People in my reader's group talk about it a lot and I'm not sure what they are saying. I tried the dictionary, but it didn't make much sense. Can you help?

Answer: Subtext is when something says one thing on the surface, but implies something else underneath.

In dialogue and narrative both,  there is always both text and subtext. First there is what is said, and second what is implied by what is left unsaid. Often, subtext, which the reader picks up on, is as important as what is actually said. Look at the following:

    “Oh, is that slide show at the library with the nature photographer tonight?” John grimaced. “I’ll go if you want, but I’m really tired. After all, I was out to the Bible Study at church last night and you stayed home and read. This makes two nights in a row, for me. Of course, I can stay home alone. I don’t want to mess up your plans....” 

Of COURSE he wants to mess up her plans! If he didn’t, he’d say,

You go ahead, hon, I’m just too tired tonight."

What this really says is, “You couldn’t be bothered to go with me last night, so I’m going to pour on the GUILT about what you want to do tonight!”

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