Wednesday, 20 May 2015

If Shakespeare had an iPhone...

I would like to take this opportunity to flag up the brilliance of a tweet I got from Teri Carson (@dizzydentfilms). Not just for its humour, and of course succinctness, but because there is a lesson for us all in these 140 characters – a lesson in story delivery in subtext.

So, before I oversell the thing, here’s Teri’s tweet:

“Honk all you want. When I got shit to tweet I don't give a fuck what color the light is..”

You think… You read it again… The penny drops… You laugh. And you get a picture – a picture of a girl sitting in the car, waiting at a red. She’s texting on her phone, so she doesn’t see the traffic lights change, and there is a guy in the truck behind getting mad with her, and he starts letting her know about it by leaning on the horn. She is unmoved and is determined to finish her tweet before pulling away...

Now look carefully at the words I used to describe the picture she created. None of the words I used appeared in her tweet. You had to make that whole scenario up for yourself from the verbal clues she gave you. And THAT is master storytelling.

You give the audience only signposts, and they do the rest themselves. Stories are not about giving information, but holding it back and having the audience project it for themselves.

Thank you Teri! Love it!

If you'd like more of Teri, go to her blog at and of course, she’s always welcoming followers on Twitter…

For an entire chapter on all types of story subtext and the methods writers use to embed subtext in their stories (and another example like this one, taken from a newspaper small ads column and which I find hilarious) you might like to consider The Story Book, Chapter 4.