The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

Overview

Charles Baxter inaugurates The Art of, a new series on the craft of writing, with the wit and intelligence he brought to his celebrated book Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction.

Fiction writer and essayist Charles Baxter’s The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot discusses and illustrates the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed, and the secreted. Using an array of examples from Melville and Dostoyevsky to ...

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The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

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Overview

Charles Baxter inaugurates The Art of, a new series on the craft of writing, with the wit and intelligence he brought to his celebrated book Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction.

Fiction writer and essayist Charles Baxter’s The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot discusses and illustrates the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed, and the secreted. Using an array of examples from Melville and Dostoyevsky to contemporary writers Paula Fox, Edward P. Jones, and Lorrie Moore, Baxter explains how fiction writers create those visible and invisible details, how what is displayed evokes what is not displayed.

The Art of Subtext is part of The Art of series, a new line of books by important authors on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter. Each book examines a singular, but often assumed or neglected, issue facing the contemporary writer of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. The Art of series means to restore the art of criticism while illuminating the art of writing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Baxter is smart about all aspects of craft.”—The Corresponder

“A wonderful new volume about writing that’s also about reading and the ways we make meaning in our lives.”—The Observer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555974732
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 7/24/2007
  • Series: Art of... Series
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 242,318
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.04 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Baxter

CHARLES BAXTER is the author of ten books, including The Feast of Love, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction. He teaches at the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis.

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 13, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B. A., Macalester College, 1969; Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1974
    2. Website:

Table of Contents


Introduction     3
The Art of Staging     7
Digging the Subterranean     33
Unheard Melodies     63
Inflection and the Breath of Life     89
Creating a Scene     115
Loss of Face     143
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 6, 2012

    Informative but not easy reading

    The Art of SUBTEXT
    Beyond Plot
    Charles Baxter ©2001
    Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, MN 55401
    ISBN 978-1-55597-473-2
    175 pp. (ppbk.)


    Charles Baxter introduces his book as the way to ‘examine those elements that propel readers beyond the plot of a novel or short story into the realm of what haunts the imagination: the implied, the half-visible, the unspoken.” He says writers must know how to use a huge amount of details to accomplish these aims, details that imply as much as they show.


    This sounds like an important method for memorable writing. However, this book may need several readings to be clearly understood and applied.


    The key to subtext involves multiple details and metaphors that suggest several meanings in a scene, dialogue or incident. The placement of characters in a scene (staging) and creating “unheard melodies” are two concepts explained. The author also discusses ways to write scenes, gestures, speech and ‘slippage’ of speech as the ways to apply subtext.


    The book probably applies more to literary writing than to that with mass market appeal

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