This essay suggests new craft techniques in fiction are emerging, which act as a palimptext, a writing, erasure, and overwriting of subtext, establishing new relationships between writer and reader. Traditional uses of subtext rely on an unspoken relationship between writers and readers wherein writers “hide” thematic meaning in subtextual layers of fiction and readers “dig” for these deeper meanings. However, this essay shows reading practices have changed from deep reading to skimming and information-seeking practices. Further, subtext’s need to give the unseen and unspoken a limited and veiled presence in a text has shifted. Current unspoken assumptions about the writer-reader relationship risk being both non-inclusive and inaccurate. I illustrate the shifting use of subtext as craft by examining two short stories, Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and Nafissa Thompson-Spires’s “Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology.”
Boren, Karen Lee
"Speaking the Unspoken: Reconsidering the Craft of Subtext in Fiction through Nafissa Thompson-Spires’s Use of Palimptext in “Heads of the Colored People”,"
Journal of Creative Writing Studies: Vol. 8:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.rit.edu/jcws/vol8/iss1/4