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...Read More
Week Five: Style, Archetype, Symbol.
Style comes from word-choice: strong verbs and concrete nouns. Archetypes link your characters to their mythic ancestors. Symbols come from concrete nouns canonized by repetition, need, emotion, sweat, and careful placement.
November 23, 2010 This came in from Mindy Halleck, novelist, travel-writer, blogger. Recently, I had an epiphany about my writing. We writers create with our subconscious minds. It has taken me ten years to finish my novel, There Once Were Warriors – this last decade I have had cancer three times. I needed healing – I unconsciously created a healer. Until time came to kill one of the main characters in my novel, Solomon, I hadn’t realized what he meant to me. During my decade of dealing with cancer, I had, in him, created a spiritual healer. He doled out spiritual advice, tonics, oils and wisdoms to all the other characters that populate my novel. I simply hadn’t realized that subconsciously he meant healing to me. The thing I needed the most. Saying goodbye to him on page 360-something launched me into a painful few days of crying, mourning, watching comfort movies and eating popcorn to fill the void, numb the pain. Solomon walked that cancer journey with me, healing me. In the novel I gave him three arrows; a spiritual trinity to be launched into the heart of my deadly illness (the monster in my book) and let it die with him. I now realize it was all a metaphor for my disease. Taking a good long look at the truth behind our fiction characters and trying to...Read More