All right, gang, say hello to MaryAn Batchellor, creative screenwriter extraordinaire, all-around smart lady, and author of the fabulous blog, Fencing With the Fog.
Here's her insightful contribution to subtext:
Aspiring screenwriters have widely differing ideas, opinions and misconceptions of what subtext actually is. Many believe it's a simple matter of reading between the lines while others believe that speaking metaphorically is also subtext. Neither is categorically true. There is nothing simple about writing subtext and metaphors aren't subtext unless the metaphor is being used for one example but also means something else. And, there's a difference between story subtext with double entendres and story subtext that has a single entendre but says what it means without saying it. What is a good definition for subtext? I don't know but if I had to make up one, I'd say it was “saying what you mean without really saying it.”
EXAMPLES OF DOUBLE ENTENDRE SUBTEXT
RICK: I congratulate you.
VICTOR LAZLO: What for?
RICK: Your work.
VICTOR LAZLO: I try.
RICK: We all try. You succeed.
Rick means what he says, but he also means what he doesn't say. He's also talking about Victor's relationship with Else.
JACK: Now the important thing
when you're penetrating
the lunar module... is your attitude
and your relative speed.
He demonstrates with a beer bottle and a drinking glass.
JACK: Now let's say this is me here in the command module, and this is you.
TRACEY: All right. Uh-huh.
JACK: In the LEM. This thing sticks out here in front, that's called the probe.
He inserts the neck of bottle into the glass.
TRACEY: Is that true?
JACK: Absolutely. And, Tracey,
I'll tell ya, when you feel that
thing slide in, everything's
clickin', it's like no other.
Yeah, he's demonstrating the probe all right.
EXAMPLE OF SINGLE ENTENDRE SUBTEXT
Raiders of the Lost Ark
INDY: I never meant to hurt you.
MARION: I was a child! I was in love.
INDY: You knew what you were doing.
MARION: It was wrong. You knew it.
INDY: Look, I did what I did. I don't expect you to be happy about it. But maybe we can do each other some good.
MARION: Why start now?
INDY: Shut up and listen for a second. I want that piece your father had. I've got money.
MARION: How much?
The word “sex” isn't used here. But that's obviously what we're talking about. She's saying he used her. He's saying she wanted it.