The topic is subtext: Why, when, and how you should use it. Cheryl and James, along with guest co-host Matt Bird, discuss several examples, including provocative theories about The Great Gatsby and The Hunger Games.

Check out Matt’s excellent Cockeyed Caravan blog post about subtext.

And check out Cheryl’s post on the same subject.

As an alternative to iTunes, you can listen right here:

Direct Download Link for the episode

More about this show, for new listeners:

In The Narrative Breakdown, Cheryl Klein, James Monohan, and other guest co-hosts discuss storytelling tips and techniques of interest to any writer, student, or fan of quality creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, fan fiction, English literature, etc. Each episode, Cheryl and James draw upon their respective experiences in publishing and filmmaking to analyze popular novels, movies, plays, television shows, short stories, and song lyrics. Featuring various co-hosts and writers, as well as material from Cheryl Klein’s book ‘Second Sight’ and James’ iPhone / iPad app ‘The Storyometer.’


9 Responses to “Subtext”

  1. Lisa May 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    @Matt Bird and Hunger Games
    Asexuality is a bit more likely than Homosexuality, don’t you think?

  2. Matt Bird May 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    I suppose… Obviously, she’s pretty much cauterized inside and that’s a big recurring theme of the books, but given her inability to feel *any* passion for her husband, even after things get better, I’d like to believe that she might find a little happiness by running away with some post-apocalyptic Avon lady some day.

    • Lisa May 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      This is one of those things about storytelling that I don’t fully understand yet.
      We have a character that we want to succeed and find happiness. We consciously or subconsciously assume that she needs this instead of that, even though we never once see her actually need this.
      It’s kinda like your article about advice people give, they’re really saying what they think is best… for them.
      You like to think that she needs a girlfriend instead of trying to make him happy. I think that she needs herself.
      I guess it’s mostly because I don’t believe that romantic relationships are (necessarily) required for happiness. Quite the opposite in fact. But if I was in a healthy relationship I might think differently.

      Anyway, while I’d like to think that she finds happiness in some way or the other, it somehow seems more likely to me that she’ll commit suicide before that could happen.

      But this has nothing to do with subtext… I really liked the four properties of subtext Cheryl brought up. A lot of times when people talk about subtext and such they never really mention a REASON why people don’t confront each other, even if it was in character and rational to do so.

  3. tsfranta May 29, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Yes PLEASE do an episode on the Great Gatsby. It fascinates me because it’s one of my favorite novels, but like Cheryl pointed out, the tensions are unresolved. In many ways it defies the principles of satisfying storytelling. Why do so many people love it? (Or are they just claiming to love it because they want to look smart?)

    Also, I personally love subtext because I think the ability to read it can function as a character skill. Maybe this is actually the equivalent of social intelligence? For example, Joan in Mad Men is awesome at not only reading subtext but manipulating it/creating it. And when a reader is able to pick up on subtext, it makes them feel in on a secret. So maybe subtext is a way for a narrator to bond with a reader?

  4. Jayne Le Couilliard May 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Just wanted to say that I’ve subscribed to your podcasts, and the last 2 have been excellent listening and knowledgeable. Many thanks.

  5. Bob Miller May 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    The topic was SUBTEXT, not SUBSEX.


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