Search Results for: subtext

How to Amplify Your Characters' Subtext:

4 Ways to Amplify Your Characters’ Subtext

The magic ingredient in fiction is subtext. In part, it is magic because of the dynamic reaction it creates in readers: their sudden ability to become an intelligent participant in interpreting the story. But also, it is magic because, like any good trick, it can be difficult for authors to interpret exactly how to execute it. Nowhere […]

The Only 5 Ingredients You Need for Story Subtext

If there’s a magic ingredient in writing, it’s story subtext. It’s actually not magic, of course, any more than any of the other demystified techniques of structure, theme, or character arc. But story subtext often seems like magic simply because, by its very nature, it is the execution of the unexplained. Subtext is supposed to be invisible. It lives […]

How To Craft Dimensional Dialogue

How to Write Subtext in Dialogue

Part 5 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Good dialogue comes down to five factors: 1. Advances the plot. 2. Accurately represents characters. 3. Mimics realism. 4. Entertains. 5. Offers subtext. These are also pretty much the “levels” in which we master dialogue. When we start out learning to write, our main concern is that the dialogue […]

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

You hear it all the time: prologues are evil. (And writers everywhere commence howling.) Now I’ll grant that “evil” is a slight exaggeration. We might call them “dangerous” instead, except that word is pretty ironic, since one of the chief reasons a prologue is so dangerous is because it allows authors to play it waaaaay yonder […]

How to Use Subtext in Your Writing

How to Create Subtext by Letting Your Readers Fill in the Blanks

As I discussed in a recent post (“Why Your Reader Is Your Co-Writer”), the best authors understand how to sketch their stories with just enough detail to let readers see the scene, while still leaving room for readers to fill in the blanks. The trick for how to create subtext with just the right balance […]

Subtext in Dialogue: 5 Places Where Your Characters Should Stop Talking

Subtext in Dialogue: 5 Places Where Your Characters Should Stop Talking

Dialogue is all about getting things said—usually important things: “I am your father.” “You can’t handle the truth!” “To be or not to be, that is the question.” “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” We spend a lot of time polishing our dialogue and learning how to make […]

Subtext: The Art of Iceberging

Sometimes the most powerful writing isn’t so much about what’s said as what isn’t said. If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as […]

How to Write About the Pandemic (or Not)

Note From KMW: For almost two years now, a question I have frequently received from readers is: “How to write about the pandemic?” Most often, I’ve heard this question from those who are (or were) writing stories set in the present day or the near future. Now that both have changed, perhaps forever, in ways both […]

Conflict in Fiction: What It Really Is and Why It’s Important to Plot

Conflict is one of the central engines of story. We’ve all heard it: no conflict, no story. On the surface, that makes total sense. But I find there can be a lot of confusion around the word “conflict.” What is conflict in fiction really? What is its purpose? What does it look like in a […]