Most of y’all know me. If not, feel free to read that fancy Blogger profile. If you don't have time, here's the skinny: My name's Mellisa Tetterton. I'm a fourth semester student in Hamline University's MFAC program. And I'm thrilled and thankful to join the Inkpot this semester.
How does a post about subtext relate to Marvin Gaye? Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t. I purchased The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot [Charles Baxter], read two chapters last night, and woke up with a headache, a snoring dog, and lots of questions.
Subtext is the meaning beneath dialogue, the feeling beneath the words, that which is unspoken in a story. Why on earth am I writing about subtext?
Why not? I’m a student with questions and the Inkpot log-in information [which trumps key card access to the faculty lounge—not that I would know anything about that...]. Subtext is a daunting word. Characters do and say things that I do not intend. Thank goodness! Just because this pleases me doesn’t mean I’m not scared. The darkest parts of my soul spill onto the page. They're naked. And my advisors see THEM. I see THEM--sometimes.
How then do we create the invisible?
Drum roll… I don’t know. Our characters know the answers that we don’t. Listen to them. What do they want to say? Trust them. What is your character hiding? “Creep” your characters.
Want to know a secret? Come closer. Closer, now… Okay, keep your hands right there. Characters require our time and attention. If we devote enough time, maybe we will see the invisible. Maybe we won't. Coming to terms with the unknown is part of the writing life. C'est la vie. Well, Shell has entered the study. The leash dangles from her yap and sways to the rhythm of her tail. What have your characters shown you lately? How do you revise the invisible?