There are different types of subtext, but in this exercise we’ll be looking at the words you choose to express the hidden (or true) meaning behind the scene. Subtext is implied, not stated, and it is implied through the details.
Here’s the challenge:
Write a one or two-paragraph Christmas scene – no dialog, just the scene. Fire blazing in the hearth, chestnuts popping, that sort of thing. But use subtext to show a subtle, underlying supernatural spookiness. Does the snow glitter like broken glass? Is an ornament lying in shards beneath the tree? Does the mother ghost into the room? The goal here is to create two levels of meaning – an ostensibly typical, cheery, Christmas scene but with something beneath.
If you really want to delve into the many levels and uses of subtext, I recommend the brilliant little book, The Art of Subtext – Beyond Plot, by Charles Baxter. And if you’d like some examples of how Agatha Christie used supernatural subtext, check out this essay.
And as always, feel free to post your masterpieces in the comments below!
About the author:
About the Author
Kirsten Weiss is the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasies, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense.