Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Hear What You’re Saying but I Know What You’re Thinking with guest Jane Myers Perrine


The politician stands before the television cameras, confessing to a secret affair and asking forgiveness from those he represents. Next to him stands his wife.  


He exudes contrition and confidence.


She stands at least a foot from him. When he turns toward her, she doesn’t make eye contact.  When he gestures in her direction, she takes a step away from him.


What does she exude? Oh, she’s there, showing support like the good political wife, standing by her man but she’s hurt by his cheating and angry that he expects her to support him and furious that he wants her to display her wounds to the public so that the unfaithful jerk can keep his career.

How do we know that?   


 
  
But you’ll say, “That’s just showing.”  And I’ll agree, but what makes this subtext is that what you’re showing is different from or contrary to or beneath the surface of the presumed context of the scene. The basic definition for subtext is the art of saying or writing or doing one thing but meaning something else.   

 The scene, on the surface, is a loving wife standing by her husband, supporting him because she loves him, forgiving him to keep the family together.  What’s really happening is that she can’t even stand close to the cheating husband because she’s seething inside.

You and I use subtext in all the time, to protect ourselves and others.  When I get my hair cut, I know when my friends say, “Oh, you got your hair cut” they really mean, “Looks awful.  She really scalped you this time.”  That’s subtext.   We use it in life.  Experienced writers uses this in their books.  It adds texture and depth to the plot and the characters.  


In novels, subtext is like rocks at the bottom of a shallow, fast running creek. The boulders are the plot points that stick up and cause the water to flow around them. Subtext is barely visible and below the surface.  It, too, changes the flow of the river or story in less obvious ways--but it still adds at least a ripple to the course of the story.


I’m going to use a number of examples because subtext may be hard to define. Actually, the definition isn’t hard but explaining how subtext is used is. With friends and family, we recognize the anger in a cold silence or a chilled tone of voice or a glare even when the words are polite. 
Has your child ever been lost, wandered away from you in a store for a period of time?  What’s the first thing you said to him when he turns up?  Probably something like,  “Don’t you ever do that again,” in a frantic and angry voice.  The tone and words say one thing but they mean, “I love you and was so worried.”


Nancy Levine wrote The Lady in Red,  a short, short story I loved. The heroine, obviously, was wearing a red velvet dress at a party.  Subtext: sexy lady. But during the party, the nap of the velvet fell off and left a trail of fluff on the carpet and sofa. This made me think, “She’s like me!” and linked to embarrassing moments in my life.  Now, you may not have picked up on that connection.  I don’t even know if Ms. Levine meant that—which points out  another problem with subtext.  Because  readers come to books from varied  backgrounds, each may pick up on something else, maybe even a feeling the writer didn’t intend.   


I once sent a friend an article about communication that I thought was hilarious. My friend called me and angrily demanded, “How dare you make fun of me by sending something that points out the problems in my marriage.”  I had no idea she’d go off like that.    


What makes it so hard to discuss subtext is that it’s nebulous and ill-defined, a blur hovering on the edge of reality and just out of reach. Subtleness and the lack of clarity makes teaching about it, even recognizing it incredibly difficult.   


A popular scene which has now become a cliché is when the heroine doesn’t know the hero cares about her until a friend says, “He loves you.  Can’t you see the way he looks at you?”


To me the subtext here is, “Good heavens, you’re dumb.  Why didn’t you notice?”


How would you use subtext to show the heroine’s recognition that the hero does love her?   Subtext is much more effective than a friend telling her.   Perhaps the heroine notices a quick glance or a light touch or he leans toward her or defers to her opinion or brings her a cookie, her favorite, of course, or goes to see Twilight with her.  

  
Another example.  Many women complain when their mother-in-laws clean their daughter-in-laws’ houses.  I really appreciated when my mother-in-law did this for me.   I never knew why other women hated this because I wasn’t looking at subtext.  What message is Annie’s  mother-in-law Barb sending with her actions?   What is Annie communicating with her response?  


Pause for explanation:  When I talked to Tina about the topic for this blog, she suggested something on craft.  I chose subtext because I know very little about it but wanted to explore, to clarify my thinking.  When I began three weeks ago—because I’m neurotic about meeting deadlines--I thought I’d finish in a day or two.  Didn’t happen. I’m on my sixth or seventh rewrite.  Didn’t realize until November 19 why I was having so much trouble. 


  This topic is incredibly complicated.   It’s a technique which cannot easily be explained to a beginning writer and depends on well-defined characters with set goals, motivations, and conflicts.  It doesn’t happen as you write a novel usually, but is usually layered on after you know your characters.

In order to understand the subtext in the scene about the mother-in-law cleaning the house, the reader has to know more about Annie and Barbara.  That leads back to characterization which leads back to goal, motivation, and conflict.   Entire books could be written on these topics.  To understand the scene with the mother-in-law, we need to understand her goal, motivation, and conflict as well as Annie’s.


Returning to that example:   Barb’s goal might be to suggest her son is living in a pig sty, her motivation could be to show Annie that Mommy is still in change;  the conflict is that Barb and Annie don’t agree on what “clean” means.  In addition, the internal conflict is Barb wants her son to be in a happy marriage and Annie’s not about to let herself be dominated.   The section is not about cleaning.  It’s about power and struggle.    



Subtext looks beneath the surface to discover motivation, to show Barb’s goals and character—and to create conflict.  Barb doesn’t say, “I’m afraid I’m losing my son.”  No, she shows Annie she’s superior and stronger and Annie will never measure up.



 Subtext.  It’s a top layer that rests on so many assumptions and presupposes the writer has the foundation of building characters and knows about goals and all that other writer-y stuff.  It’s not just one thing.   It’s many and it’s  complicated.  Of course, it’s also your choice not to use subtext—but I bet it will turn up anyway because if we know our characters well, subtext happens.  That man in love can’t help but smiling goofily at his girl even at a business meeting.  Couples in love can’t help but glow or emit sexual tension zinging back and forth between them even at dinner with their spouses.  Try as we do to hide emotions, they show.

Here’s another example and several possible ways to interpret subtext.  


J.D. loves to play football. When his coach pulls him off the bench to go in for an injured player, he says, “Yes. Coach,” grabs his helmet and heads in. Let’s look at the subtext for that scene.
If J.D. doesn’t hesitate, the subtext is, 


1.    “Finally I get to show my stuff” 


2.    “I’ll do anything Coach says.”  


3.    “I don’t care about my friend because I want to get in the game.”


If J.D. pauses for a second before leaping off the bench, the subtext is:


1.    “I don’t know if I can do this” or


2.    “My best friend has just been injured and


    a.    I’m afraid I’ll be injured.”


    b.    I’m worried about him.”


3.    Add your own here.


But, you may wonder, how does the reader know?  Because subtext is not used in a vacuum.  If you’ve created a believable and deep character, the reader remembers background and thoughts.  Did his mother ever sob, “Your brother died playing football”?  Did he ever tell a friend, “There’s nothing more important in my life than getting a football scholarship to college”?  If you’ve set it up, the subtext is clear.


Still, there are lots options and a great deal of set up. That’s what makes subtext both tough and intentional.   


EXERCISE:   I’m going to give a few sentences for you to build as subtext.  Or, probably more useful, scan your WIP and find a place you could add subtext.   Take a risk.  Find numerous possibilities. Play with them.   Here are some sentences you can practice with.


1.    After tossing her dark hair back, Aphrodisia (yes, character names can be subtext) tilted her head and purred, “You’re wrong, Mr. Bond.”


Take Two:   After blinking, Maryanne leaned forward and stated, “You’re wrong, Mr. Bond.”


Can these both have the same subtext?  Of course they can—you’re the writer.  You decide.


2.    “Oh, sure.”  (So many possibilities)


3.    Wink


I feel as if I’ve been fighting this topic for weeks and can only hope you will accept the offering I lay before you.   I hope this blog—as torn and patched together  as it is--has been helpful to you, has illuminated the subject and challenged you to leap into the fray armed with subtext and thrust it into your latest book.    


I'd love to hear some of your favorite examples of subtext as well.

Happy writing!


 


Award-winning writer Jane Myers Perrine has worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and been an active volunteer but she always wanted to write.   Finally, she found time and has published books with  Avalon Books, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, and FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group.  Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.    


Jane’s Butternut Creek series is about a young minister serving in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas and is filled with affection and humor.  The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, the first book in the series, was published in April, 2012.  The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek will be available in November 20, 2012.  The third book, The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek will be available in late 2013.


With her minister husband George, Jane lives north of Austin where their lives are controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats. 

 

The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek

Undaunted,  the Widows of Butternut Creek continue their search to find a bride for Pastor Adam in The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek, the second of the Butternut Creek series.
    For once, Adam and the Widows—the elderly ladies who run the church Adam serves--agree on something.  Gussie Milton is the perfect woman for him.  But Gussie is skittish after a traumatic experience in college.  Oh, sure, she'd like a relationship but has trouble trusting and throws herself into caring for her aging parents, running her photography business, and serving the church.   As Adam court Gussie, the Widows push and Gussie shies away.   Can the Widows' meddling change the couple's lives forever?  Here’s a hint:  the third book in the series has the title The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek.











And...Jane is generously giving away one of her Butternut Creek books to one lucky winner (winner's choice). Comment today for your opportunity. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

67 comments :

  1. Jane!

    Wow - how did you know I was thinking about working on this myself?

    Brandilyn Collins had an outstanding session on subtext in the Christian Writers Guild Boot Camp session in Chicago a year ago.

    I'm going to print this off and really study. THANK YOU!

    It IS incredibly difficult and so important to add finesse to our work. Thank you thank you!!!

    :)

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  2. Wow, am I first????

    I love subtexting. And you explained it beautifully.

    And in case anyone missed it, here is deepest, most obscure subtexting in Jane's post:

    Cheating politician.

    Seething wife.

    Scalped.

    Wife is not as dumb as she looks.

    Now that's good subtexting! lol

    Night all!

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  3. And since Helen hasn't made it yet, I'm plugging in the coffee pot. Notice the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies too? Freshly made. Yum!

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  4. SO funny. I didn't notice your 2nd entry until I waved. HA!
    Blogger!!!

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  5. I came to check out Mia and Ruthy's gingerbread analogy, but today's post is already up. Hooray for differences in time zones!

    While Pam and KC are busy chatting, pouring coffee and helping themselves to those fresh cookies, I'll add my appreciation for how you've covered this topic, Jane. Subtext definitely has to be subtle, and subtlety isn't easy to achieve. I have a bad habit of throwing details into the reader's face and I know that's insulting. I'm going back to re-read a couple scenes and apply your suggestions. Thanks!

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  6. Loved this post!

    And love Jane's books. So funny, such great characters!

    Like Carol said, this makes me want to re-read scenes and make sure my subtext is subtle.

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  7. P.S. E-mail (and blog posts and facebook) are the Kryptonite to subtlety.

    Sure, you can try and be subtle, but very soon you'll lose friends or cause arguments (like your friend with the communication issue).

    I get aggravated at the use of exclamation points, emoticons, lols, etc. but then I remember, there's no subtlety in the cyberverse. Being over-the-top positive is a must or eventually someone will accuse you of being mean!

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  8. Wow, this was a wonderfully concise and dare I say brilliant post on subtext.... Although I would have never known what to call it, Jane!

    Thank you so much for this, and what a great series of books! I love matchmaking old birds! They're the best!

    Every town needs a good Yenta or two!

    Your tips today will help layer the works of tomorrow Jane. God bless you!

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  9. Good morning, Jane. I've been sitting here with my morning coffee, reading through your post. I have to agree with Ruthy that it's brilliant.

    Doesn't Tina just bring out the brilliance in us?
    No subtext there. *g*

    I need to print this off. I've been teaching my students the value of multiple readings of the same piece, and I definitely need to reread and study this.

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  10. Welcome to Seekerville Jane, Great explanation of subtext and so critical to a super novel.

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your day here.

    KC the cookies hit the spot as does the coffee.

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  11. Jane,

    I'll print this out for sure so I can read and study it.

    Thanks for the great information.

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  12. Jane, welcome to Seekerville!! Loved your excellent post on subtexting! Thank you! I think we all use it in our stories but I'll look for opportunities to use it more.

    Congrats on your success! Love the stylistic look of your covers!

    Janet

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  13. I love it when a romance writer has also been a rifle instructor!

    Jane, I have a feeling subtext is something I do more by accident than on purpose.

    I'll have to go back to my wip and see if I can find some examples.

    Connie Queen

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  14. OMG, Jane, is this what what happens when we write books?

    Working hard to incorporate subtle nuances and underlying tension specific to our characters only to have the reader interject their own personal experiences and possibly misconstrue the entire meaning of a scene?

    Yikes! Creating poignant stories is more difficult (subtext: hazardous) than I thought!! LOL!!

    Thank you, Jane for the research on the topic. Elements like this make a good book, great.

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  15. As you all know, i am not a writer, but this subtext...doesn't even have to be MIL and DIL can be mother and daughter (as in my case, though it's changing) i always enjoy these posts. Thanks for sharing

    marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

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  16. Jane, great post. I try to implement subtext because people rarely mean what they say. Nor do they say what they mean.

    The problem I have is with the setup, which sometimes happens pages before the actual scene. Here’s an example from Whatever He Wants:


    James swallowed the last of his brownie as Joni walked toward the table he shared with Philip, Cole, and Vince. “Where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you anywhere.”

    A hundred questions sparkled in her eyes. “I’ve seen you.” With a tilt of her head, she bit her lip and raised her eyebrows.

    He released a chuckle and picked up his empty plate. “Come on. Let me throw this away and we’ll talk about it.”


    In the pages before this scene, the reader sees Joni watching James and knows that she questions his actions. What she’s saying here is “I know what you’ve done and you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”

    The problem with subtext is sometimes signals cross and the reader gets the wrong message.

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  17. This is a wonderful post. Jane, you've opened my eyes and challenged me to consider how I can be intentional about weaving some subtext into my story. I'll be back later (I hope) to try my hand at using subtext with your sentences.

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  18. Ooooh the evolution of Virginia Carmichael. I love, love, love your new photo!!!

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  19. Welcome back to Seekerville, Jane. The subtext there is. WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, JANE.

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  20. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, JANE, and WOW ... way to get me to think so early in the morning!!! SUBTEXT ... I didn't even know it existed, which shows you just how much I have to learn in this biz. But, man, what an interesting subject, especially because depth of character is essential for subtexting, obviously, and I LOVE depth of character!! I think I need to print this off and implement ...

    By the way, LOVE the covers of your books -- they have a definite Mitford flair, which is really nice. Is that what your publisher was going for because if so, GREAT JOB and VERY SMART!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  21. KC!!! I absolutely LOVE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, girl, how did you know?? YUM!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  22. What comes to my mind (and I'm not even sure it's exactly on topic) is when a character understands a situation...but they understand it wrong.
    So one character makes a statement, the other character takes it the wrong way.
    It's okay to have CHARACTERS confused but you can't have READERS confused.
    This can come out of character development and subtext. Because a character thinks a certain way they're pre-disposed to misunderstand. Which can be really fun.

    But the author has to bring the reader along. If the Reader also misunderstands (unless you're having them miss clues in a mystery) then the reader is lost and the book loses a lot of it's power.

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  23. And of course the queen of subtext IS Jane Austen.

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  24. Mary Curry, yes, that's it exactly. This is great comparative showing, to show how the presence or absence of a word evokes a feeling....

    And feelings mean readers remember.

    Memorable characters. Strong. Solid plots, simple in their execution....

    Now that's my kind of reading/writing!

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  25. Mary Connealy yes, yes, yes!!!! I think that sums it up superbly....

    The reader must be tempted or informed or at least sense the HINTED meaning...

    But the character can be confused. And often is.

    I hate when you're that smart, Connealy!

    Hey, yes, TEEEEEEENA makes us smart.

    The whip is strong encouragement.

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  26. Thank you, Virginia (And love Jane's books. So funny, such great characters!) I'd never thought about email NOT being a place for subtext but you are right.
    RUTH, what a lovely post--yes, you may use the word BRILLIANT. You, too, Mary. Sandy! Glad it will help your writing, Ruth--and Mary, happy re-reading.

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  27. Thank you, Sandra and Rose. And where are the cookies? CONNIE--my theme song was"YOu Can't Get a Man with a Gun" I think most of us are surprised to find we do use subtext. The challenge is to attempt to be more intentional.

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  28. Hi, Janet--I love my covers as well. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Yes, Audra--that's one of the problems with publishing--people read odd things into your words. I got a recent review on amazon.com which does NOT happen in the novel. I think it reflects the reader's view not what I wrote.

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  29. Jane, thanks for the great explanation of subtext! And you really brought back memories for me with the mention of the mother-in-law cleaning her daughter-in-law's house! Oh, my! My hubby's mom ALWAYS cleaned our light fixtures when she came to visit!!! It didn't take me long to realize her subtext was simply, "I cannot stand to sit still so give me something to do!!!"

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  30. Bridget: Great comment. "The problem with subtext is sometimes signals cross and the reader gets the wrong message." That's why the writer realizes this isn't the only tool and has to express the point in other, less subtle ways. Marianne, you are right. There's subtext all over!

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  31. Jeanne--thank you and good luck with the exercises. TINA, I am so glad to be here. I love visiting seekerville. Thanks for challenging me on this subject.
    JULIE, As you said, "depth of character is essential for subtext" but I think it works the other way, too: subtext can create depth of character--althou it isn't essential. I'm sure the small-town covers were a marketing choice. They look a litl like Phillip Gulley's as well. I love them!

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  32. MaryC This is why subtext isn't be the only tool in our writer's toolbox. Subtext shouldn't make the story so murky the reader can't figure it out--UNLESS the writer wants it to be. Confusion on the part of the reader is NOT a good thing--unless the writer wants that. Subtext shouldn't confuse but should delineate and be used only every now and then.

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  33. Tina, you mentioned Jane Austen when we were discussing subtext. Because I used to write Regencies and read her novels over and over, I thought, I should look into that. Then the blog kept growing and growing and time was running our so I didn't. Would you give an example or two of how she uses subtext?

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  34. This is a great explanation of subtexting. I'll be printing it out as well.

    And now I know what people really mean when they notice I've had a haircut.

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  35. Tina, I found a great barter and trade site. I bartered an old frame for some 'professional' photos. Ok, it was a person with a fancy camera who wanted to start a photogrpahy business.

    800 photos. 90% unusable. At least 15 of the back of my head. (How does that happen?)

    But all I needed was one.

    Julie Hilton Steele helped me choose from the last 5. She liked this one, so all the credit goes to her.

    I look like a manic, middle-aged woman in need of some make up.

    Blame her.

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  36. Jane, you did a great job of introducing a tough topic. And I love the covers of your books- looks like something I need to read.
    One of the highly recommended reads from my mentor DiAnn Mills: The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman. This book has helped me know how to show by a character's actions the message that isn't spoken.

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  37. Hi Jane:

    I was much cheered up this morning after getting back from the doctor’s to find your post on subtext. The use of language is one of my favorite topics and you covered the subject so well it gave me much to think about. You placed all the elements out there on the table so I was encouraged to try and rearrange them. That’s kind of what I do. : )

    Here’s what I’ve come up with. I loved to hear what you think of it.

    There are four parts and two divisions to the subtext complex.

    1. The text: what the speaker said. “That’s a nice dress.”
    2. The subtext: what the speaker meant -- expressed in text terms. That’s an ugly dress.
    3. The action: What the speaker was doing. Being sarcastic in order to show his displeasure with the woman wearing the dress.
    4. The interpretations & reactions: the woman thought he was flirting with her and is encouraged that he may be interested in her.

    It is possible to call all four steps above ‘subtext’ but I think it might be better to separate them out for a better understanding.

    Consider the politician.

    He says he is sorry. He’s asked his wife for forgiveness. He promises to be a good faithful husband for the rest of his life.

    His subtext is: the same as the above because he is sincere. He has seen the light and now knows what he stands to lose.

    His action – what he was doing – is trying to save his marriage and career by being totally honest and making no excuses.
    The interpretation and reactions: his wife is not buying it. She does not believe him. Why should voters?

    I really don’t consider the wife’s reaction to be subtext to her husband’s statements. Subtext might best be related to her own statements. How does she add subtext to what he is saying? This involves the author.

    Two divisions of subtext.

    1. the character’s subtext.
    2. the author’s subtext to the whole scene.

    In the politician example the character’s subtext was the same as his text. The wife’s reaction to his text was the author showing the wife's emotional reaction to his statements.

    I think when we talk about subtext we are talking about a great many things that go by that term and it is helpful to delineate those elements in an attempt to acquire a better understanding of the subject.

    A Favorite example involving Contest Judges and my WIP “Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer”.

    Set up: The hero and heroine were both lent the same cabin in the mountains. They both need it to be alone. She has to finish her romance novel. He has to edit his sister’s romance novel and deal with a midlife crisis. He’s very knowledgeable about the romance genre.

    They just met. He’s a handsome Army Captain and she’s a rather Plain Jane type. Both are single and thirty-six years old. Both are outside the cabin arguing about who gets to keep the cabin. The hero then points out that there are fresh bear tacks near the cabin.

    She says,

    “Are you trying to scare me?”

    He says:

    “Sweetheart, if I wanted to scare you, I’d ask you to marry me, have my children and make me the happiest man in the world.” He dropped down on one knee, cocked his head sideways and looked up at her with adoring eyes.
    ***
    About a third of the judges loved what I was doing here and had high praise for this scene. Another third hated it and said I can’t have them fall in love so quickly. That I needed more conflict for the rest of the novel. One judge even said I should read GMC and “learn something about writing”!!! The middle third were silent. I’m not sure they knew what to make of it.
    My subtext was comedy. But comedy is ever harder to get right than subtext. How can I get my story to only those who will ‘get it’?

    BTW: I love your artwork. It makes me want to visit that town.

    Vince

    P.S. Please put me in for a chance of winning one of your books. A yenta or two would be nice as long as there are a few menschen as well.

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  38. " ... A single man in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wife." Jane Austrn

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  39. Jane, thank you for this article! I feel like I have a firm grip on subtext, now. Whether or not I can implement it may be a different matter.

    Btw "Subtext Happens" would make a great bumper sticker!

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  40. I think I finally got it. It took me awhile. It's in the set up and being deep enough into the character. Then subtext works.

    Wow, okay, Thank you Jane! Now I am excited, set up set up setup.

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  41. What a great description of subtext.

    MinDaf @ AOL.com

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  42. Pat Trainum Bradley, LOL!!!!!

    YES! SUBTEXT TO THE MAX!!!

    Still laughing in upstate!!!!

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  43. Pat Trainum Bradley, LOL!!!!!

    YES! SUBTEXT TO THE MAX!!!

    Still laughing in upstate!!!!

    Vince, darling man, if you figure that out of 12 million readers only one third of one third will "get" your stuff, you're still over a million strong, right??? :)

    When it comes to contests, if the work is good and strong....

    You're still only going to please about a sixth of the judges, LOL!

    And still we carry on because we're having too much fun to stop.

    And by the way.... I totally got the comedy and GRINNED!!!! with a silly grin when I read that part.

    And yes.

    It is good.

    :)

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  44. Thanks for the Austen subtext, Tina. Ruth, absolutately right! Body language is a huge part of subtext. Pat, I've learned that only, "You're hair looks great" is a compliment. Of course, it could also be subtext.

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  45. Donna; I bet you will use subtext. Love the bumper sticker--another way to really confuse people. Mary, absolutetley right! "It's in the set up and being deep enough into the character. Then subtext works." And that's what makes it hard. Thanks, Chrystal

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  46. Vince, Why don't you shoot me an email at jane@janemyersperrine so I can discuss this with your further--actually, anyone is invited to do so. For me, what you've written is more complicated and complex than I'm up to--but fascinating! Thanks.

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  47. Vince:

    When he writes anything that long, all I can think is... linguistics stuffed inside philosphy, wrapped up in prose and sprinkled with flakes of comedy.


    La.

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  48. P.S. That 'proposal' scene made me cackle.

    My husband proposed after we'd been taking a month or so.

    We still laugh about how freaked out I got.

    SCA-RY STUFF. Too bad he wasn't kidding. I almost dumped him.

    He tried it again about 10 months later and it went a bit better.

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  49. Sorry, dating. Not 'taking'. Whatever that is.

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  50. >>Subtext looks beneath the surface to discover motivation, to show Barb’s goals and character—and to create conflict.<<

    What a wonderful explanation for something that is so important for me as a reader! Nothing's more boring than a book where the author hits me over the head (and several times at that) to be sure I "got" something. One of my favorite reads is romantic comedy (historical or contemporary), and those stories depend on subtext.

    What I'd never considered is how well you have to know the character to comprehend the subtext -- good point.

    Thanks for another post that'll go into the writing notebook :-)

    Nancy C

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  51. Another Woman's World writer!

    Jane, what a great blog. Subtext is such an interesting topic, and one I've never studied. Thanks for providing excellent instruction and great examples!

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  52. NancyC and Debbie--thanks. NancyC--I didn't realize how well one had to know the characters until I started writing this blog. I always learn when I write about craft.

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  53. Subtext is so interesting to write! Thanks for your wonderful explanation and a belated welcome to Seekerville.

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  54. Oh my!! I left a comment this afternoon, and just realized Blogger ate it....Even commented on Jane's Tuxedo kitty! Oh well...thanks for this great post today on subtext, Jane. And I love the covers of your Butternut Creek books--covers like those always make me want to visit that town *smile*. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo p.s. A sweet Tuxedo "stray" has adopted me--He was scrawny when he appeared at my back door a few months ago. Now he's nice and plump!

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  55. Wow, Vince. I am so impressed. With your definition and your scene.

    I GOT IT!!!

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  56. A wonderful post & I loved all the comments too.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  57. would love to win Jane's book!Always love to try books by authors that I haven't read yet!

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  58. I gotta say - I LOVE the titles and covers to the Butternut series! So homey - So cool! Please put me in the running to win one.

    Thanks Seekers!
    Have a lovely weekend!!!

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

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  59. I would love to win,Enter me!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
    Sarah Richmond
    sarahrichmond.12@gmail.com

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  60. I loved being here. Thanks to all who comments--to all who love my covers and books! And CatMom, nothing sweeter that a plump tuxedo cat!

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  61. I love the way you explained sub-texting!!

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  62. Oh these sound like delightful stories. Thanks for having the giveaway.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  63. Jane, I can't believe I didn't make it by yesterday for your blog!! I'm so sorry! What a great post, though. I love using subtext! And sometimes use it even when I don't mean to. :)

    Thanks for blogging with us again!

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