I am in the midst of reading two really great books on writing, both by Charles Baxter.
The Art of SUBTEXT is a great fast read on the subject of what is understood when not said, how to identify it, and how to employ it in your writing. I have been reading a lot of new plays for a theater recently, and I have to say that most of the ones that end up in the rejection pile are there because of too much on-the-nose theme pointing and exposition. The unsaid and unstated are much stronger than the obvious or explained. This book develops an understanding and a vocabulary to observe subtext.
From the introduction of SUBTEXT:
In fiction, the half-visible and the unspoken -- all those subtextual matters -- are evoked when the action and the dialogue of the scene angle downward, when by their multiplicity they imply as as they show. A slippery surface causes you to skid into the subtext. To take the reader into that critical twilight zone, that landscape haunted by the unseen, I have sought to illustrate the way the subtext -- the unspoken soul-matter -- is evoked in a story [...]
The second book is Burning Down the House - a collection of essays primarily from the 1980's, with a newer edition that contains a new preface by the author and two additional essays. Chapters include Dysfunctional Narratives, or "Mistakes Were Made", On Defamiliarization, Against Epiphanies,Talking Forks: Fiction and the Inner Life of Objects, Maps and Legends of Hell: Notes on Melodrama, plus others.
From the chapter On Defamiliarization:
The assumption that some writers work from, that any valuable truth may essentially be dramatic, is clearly and unhappily mistaken. What I would argue is that the truth that writers are after may be dramatic only if it has been forgotten first: if the story, in other words, pulls something contradictory and concealed out of is hiding place.
This book came to my attention thru a blog that had been circulating on Facebook that references some of the observations on these essays -- Burning Down A House by Polly Carl
I thought I would share this info here. Check out the blog by Polly Carl, and perhaps you will be as intrigued as I was to find out more.