Essay Writing: Subtext

When an essay is successful it resonates with the reader in a deep and profound way. Yet that essay rarely names or tells the reader what that profound thing is. Let’s take a look at how shape and meaning, or subtext, can bring a good essay up into the stratosphere.
Writing Tip for Today: Good essays contain the particular rather than the general. In a personal essay, this usually means that the writer presents a story told in scenes, from the “I” voice, with honesty and that transparency we talked about yesterday.

  • When you draft your essay, it’s a good idea to just write that story in the best way you know, and don’t worry about the “deeper meaning” of the subtext. If you try to insert the subtext consciously, the essay will probably suffer from a forced meaning and symbolism. The real deeper meaning will emerge as you revise and polish.
  • As this subtext becomes evident, be artful about revealing it in your writing. Too much information prevents the reader from discovering the subtext, and feels telly and forced.
  • If you’re having trouble identifying the subtext, dig deeper into your emotions. Don’t hold anything back. The best essays resonate with deep and true emotions.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

1 comment on “Essay Writing: Subtext

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    Essay Writing

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