Category: Rules of Writing

Subtext and the Biological Code

Subtext in a Scene—Biology and the Three Goods  ©2013 by Robert J Ray             Subtext is one key to a good story. Subtext is that unseen turmoil boiling under the surface of your tale. To create subtext, you can use the ritual of sexual selection, your character’s choice of a date or a mate. To create drama in the selection ritual, we focus on two characters, one female and one male. To get drama, we deploy the three goods: good genes, good resources, and good behavior. Three Examples of the Three Goods             The guests are 30-something, educated, attractive, a mixture of singles, marrieds, and divorced persons. The male is Claude, the female is named Eileen. Claude is handsome. He’s sporting a Rolex and driving a Mercedes. Eileen is attractive. She has no car; she came to the party with a friend. Claude is witty. He tells a good story. Eileen is reserved, formal. She’s attracted to Claude. Her secret in this scene is her borrowed wardrobe. She loves good clothes. Two days before the party, Eileen was laid off. One week before the party, she broke off a relationship. She is polite, well-mannered, a lady. What’s going on in the subtext? To find out, we decode the details. Handsome is code for good genes. Mercedes and Rolex code for good resources. Claude has two goods out of a...

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Flashbacks and Point of View

Flashbacks and Point of View ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Flashbacks  and POV in The English Patient The English Patient has a zigzag structure that slides between past and present, between desert and Villa, between the Thirties in Africa and 1944 in Italy. Unlike All the King’s Men, which is told by a single narrator, The English Patient has four points of view, one for each of Ondaatje’s four protagonists: Nurse, Patient, Thief, and Sapper. The book  opens in the Nurse’s point of view. The year is 1944. The place is Italy. As the Nurse climbs steep steps to tend the Patient, the writer uses the image of a bird drifting down to set up his flashback structure: “There are stories the man recites quietly into the room which slip from level to level like a hawk.” The image of the hawk informs the reader about the zigzag structure of time-slippage that defines this book. On the third page of the novel, the point of view shifts to the Patient – “I fell burning into the desert.” – and the trap door opens, dropping us into the African desert in wartime, when the Allies fought the Axis over oil. This time-dance between past and present, between Patient and Nurse, continues throughout Chapter One. In Chapter Two, the Thief takes over the point-of-view, then alternates with the Nurse and the...

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©2010-2017 Jack Remick, Robert J. Ray. All rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including text and images, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Short excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray and "Bob and Jacks Writing Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.