“Think of story as metaphor. It’s not just the narration of events (though it’s that too). It’s got some meaning or meanings buried maybe not too far under the surface. How you name your characters, what you have them do for a living, whether they slam a door or close it quietly– all these can be metaphors for some deeper truth.”–Alicia Rasley
This is part of what I keep trying to communicate to so many seemingly clueless pros (yes, pros as well as the well-meaning amateurs and know-it-alls who are like me and who think they need to tell everyone how to Do It Right, grin.) Some critiquers are primarily focused on getting me to name my characters more mundane names or to have them do more common jobs and think a lot less, or they’ve got the idea that everything should be “about what happens.” If things do not take place in crashes and explosions and screaming on the surface, they feel that “nothing happens.”
Numerous people are convinced that there should be breakneck-paced, nonstop “moving forward” in every story, and they believe they want to see nothing but action in any story. But subtext, bidden or unbidden, perceived or not, is still there. (Subtext . . . it’s like in that episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”* in which his mother takes a sculpture class and makes an “abstract” that looks like . . . well, everyone but the mom sees it as naughty bits, and it’s a hilarious commentary.)
* [I know, I know. Hubby makes fun of me for having gotten fond of the re-runs of this show. Yes, it can be stupid, but what it hits correctly is the family experience with a certain stripe of messed-up family. The character of Robert is the most human and humane of all of them. It’s not nearly as stupid as the majority of today’s sitcoms.]
Do you speak in metaphor often? Is subtext an essential part of the way in which people communicate, with or without their conscious knowledge? How does body language figure into this?
“Harry Potter is about doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”–Stephen King