I’m sure there are better examples of subtext out of there, but to bring it close to home I’ve included a narrative selection from my book that was really dry until I used subtext to heighten the tension. I know, it could still use more work… but well, it can always use more work.
To review, subtext is the hidden undercurrents in a scene.
For me, subtext happens in the details.
Aria slid her hand into Tavin’s, and led him into the darkness
beyond the doorway. Once they left the cell, the roots wound shut
behind them, encasing them in a small damp room of earth and tree
bark. Eerie green light seeped from the roots and lit the space around
them. If there’d been a window or a torch, Tavin would have never
noticed the light, but in the near darkness, it was just enough to trace
the outlines of Aria’s pale round face.
With a hand lovingly trailing across Mya’s roots, Aria walked
forward, bringing Tavin with her. The room reformed as they
moved, opening the path before them and closing after they passed.
The packed earth beneath their feet remained thoughtfully smooth
They travelled in silence. The dim light and warmth of the
chamber never changed, and it lulled Tavin into a dreamlike state.
It was hard to guess the passage of time. When Aria finally stopped
walking, she had to call Tavin’s name several times to get his attention.
Mya parted her roots at eyelevel to form a narrow peephole
into the world beyond. Tavin’s nose twitched as the scent of cool
air and damp grass flowed into the chamber, accompanied by gray
moonlight. Aria pressed her cheek to the peephole. It seemed like an
eternity had passed before she drew back.
Here is the subtext I attempted to write into the narrative you just read:
Mya is a magical tree that has strong “mothering” aspects. To echo this thought, I built the room that my characters pass through to resemble a womb.
Mya is also overbearing. I hope you felt, as Tavin did, rather stifled.
Aria, on the other hand, finds Mya a comforting and familiar presence.
Tavin is in love with Aria.
I hope that makes sense.