Subtext, subtext, subtext. How many times have I not heard that word? The little magic parole that brings power and money.
What is it?
Julie Gray says on her blog:
“In the same way that writing is rewriting, subtext is writing. That's why it's so hard to write and write well. Subtext is the feeling behind the words and the situation. And to get that out of your head and onto paper in a way that I can be entertained by - that's just magic. If you are asking what subtext is - the answer is subtext is what writing is made of.”
Subtext is your writing skill.
Well, I agree on that.
But she gives no example on how to improve the writing skill, the so much desired subtext. Either you have talent, or you don't. Either you get the picture, or you don’t.
That is – in my opinion – rubbish.
Talent is needed to be a skilled writer, yes. But skill is something that could always improve. Like all craftsmanship.
No one expects you to forge a sword worthy Ivanhoe first day in a blacksmith. So why should you be able to write an Oscar winner on your first try. Relax. What you need is practice, and it will probably pay off in the end.
So here is my subtext tip when writing dialog:
Let every character have a goal for each particular scene, contradicting the other’s goal.
See also: Three things when writing a scene