Wednesday, March 31, 2010

wrestling with that angel, subtext

Yep, it's an ongoing problem. At the risk of repeating myself, I looked back at other entries I have written about subtext, and everything I was going to say has already been covered.

Except this one.

In 'Sand and Water' a pattern emerged that has emerged before in my work, and rather than think it's a bad pattern, something occurred to me.

In the first drafts (maybe up to 12--I've gone there before), I can write whatever I want. Very few people see it, if any. Mostly they are for my eyes only, and a select few I can trust to give me a good opinion. And good opinion doesn't mean saying 'I liked it'. The few I have read my early draft work give me good constructive points on things--and they usually echo what I think myself.

In these early drafts, I noticed the subtext bobbing right to the top, and the characters say it right out loud. Before a few moments ago, I would get annoyed with myself and think, why, why, WHY can't I just bury that crap? I think maybe I need to realize I have to know myself for sure what the subtext is, and then I can bury it. So after my first first first draft, I spend my time grabbing the subtext and figuring out how to bury it. And this comes from knowing my characters well. And mostly I've used The Dramatic Writer's Companion by Will Dunne to accomplish my knowledge of my characters. I used it for the first time a few months ago, and it was super helpful. Some of the stuff I never read again after I wrote it down, but it was fine that way. I had written it out and gotten a better handle on my characters.

So yeah, I still wrestle with subtext. It's generally a pain in the ass, but it's one of those pains in the ass that are good and help you shape your work. So I'll continue to work on burying this subtext and continue to work. Something good is coming out of it--even if it's slowly.

No comments: