Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath
Review of a book written by Dr. Linda Seger
With so many books available covering the basics of writing, e.g. structure, plot, characterisation, etc, I was surprised to learn how few authoritative publications there were on the use of subtext as a means to create emotional impact. In fact, at the time of writing this review, I noticed just four dedicated books on Amazon attributed to the subject. Of course, there are other retail outlets, but I didn’t notice any further options there, either.
After a long and exhaustive search and having read some positive reviews, I eventually settled on Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath, by Linda Seger. It was worth the wait (and the frustration). One of the things which quickly became apparent to me when I began reading the book was the many different forms of subtext, some of which I never new existed. Or, perhaps I did, but had simply not thought of them as being subtext. Dialogue – sure, description and gestures – maybe, but subtext in images, metaphors and genre? Okay, maybe that explains my Amazon sales figures. But, seriously, next time you watch a great movie or TV show and try to analyse the source of those layers of meaning, chances are they have been created using some form of subtext. I realise many writers are probably already well-versed on the value of this subject, but, for the uninitiated like me, the contents of this book were a big deal.
Chapter one begins with a definition and exploration of subtext, with subsequent chapters discussing the many techniques of expression highlighted earlier. There are helpful excerpts of successful scripts the author uses to emphasise a point as well as exercises and tips for discussion at the end of each chapter, just in case the reader hadn’t been paying attention.
This is a genuinely good book, packed full with helpful advice and tips for writers of every discipline. It’s perfect for anyone looking for guidance on ways to create more insight and depth to their work.