Tuesday, December 9, 2014
A Great Read for the holiday season and Subtext?
Question from the e-mail: Members of my critique group keep talking about subtext. I think I know what it means, but if I do, THEY don't? Can you help?
Answer: Subtext is what is implied by what is said, although the actual words are not included in the text. For instance our local TV Station has a slogan that says, "More News in Less Time!" The subtext for that is: "More time for Advertising!" Because if they spend less time giving you news....
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 usually picks up on, is as important as what is actually said. Look at the following sample:
“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 a book. This makes two nights in a row, for me. Of course, 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. You're the one who loves photography. I’m ta bit too tired tonight." What this really says is, “You couldn’t find time to go with me last night, so I’m NOT going to be nice about what you want to do tonight.”