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I’ve been thinking about how to connect with my readers. Some say you need a hero that the reader admires. I’m not sure that’s the only way to connect. After all, antiheroes are not all that loveable at first.
But we all share the common ground of emotion. It doesn’t matter what the history. We’ve been hurt, angry, happy, lonely, etc. And to me, it’s the link between all of us.
I don’t know how many of you know about the MRU. There’s a quick explanation below and if you need more, and there’s the internet.
Motivation: something happens to the main character. Reaction: the character —feels, thinks, acts—then speaks (if they do speak). Any of these reactions might be omitted at the discretion of the author.
And the unit is repeated over and over again.
Subtext is expressed in the silent reactions
The silent reactions, the unspoken word, shows the true internal workings of a character. What’s revealed indirectly is subtext. I’m working hard to understand and incorporate subtext into my copy.
I remember the first time I got a ticket; I’d run a stop sign with the police officer watching the whole thing. While he wrote out the ticket, I maintained a polite and calm facade, but inside I had a twenty-year-old meltdown.
If I’d been a character, the reader would have seen how hard I tried to laugh off my mistake. All the while frightened by his authority over me. They’d have seen my raw embarrassment after the cop drove away and how I hid this horrible event from everyone in my family. Very ashamed, I didn’t want to admit to them what I had done.
It was just a stop sign, but it didn’t matter. I hated making mistakes back then.
The unspoken word introduces the reader to the unprotected core of your character. It’s private. It makes the character vulnerable. The MC may hide their true feelings from the other characters—maybe, even from themselves—but not the reader. This intimate and trusting moment reveals who they are.
The inner workings and facade they show the surrounding people is revealing as well. Their choice on how to express themselves may be direct, indirect, or a bold face lie. For example, their inner thoughts contradict what they do—hurt expressed as anger.
The character may not work out why they reacted they way they did, but the reader will. They have the information of all the point-of-view characters and know exactly what’s unfolding within the story.
Subtext allows the reader in where they can’t go in day-to-day life. It tells them secrets they’ll savor while also enjoying the story. They’ll anticipate what may happen next and be surprised when a twist occurs instead. It allows the story to become their story. Isn’t that what we all want when reading?
I’m doing my best to incorporate more subtext within my work. Do you do this? Do you have any tips for me?