When we talk with our friends and neighbors, most of the time we just say what we mean. One person may say to the other, "Please don't park your car in front of my driveway." The second person replies, "Okay."
If you're walking on the sidewalk, you wouldn't think any more of it. You heard the request, understood it and move on. There is nothing to involve you, the reader or moviegoer, any further.
In any literary work, particularly the screenplay, the goal is to capture and retain the reader's or moviegoer's attention. You're supposed to keep them interested and thinking about what's going on with your characters.
That's where subtext comes in (defined as the meaning below the words). This is in contrast to "on-the-nose" dialogue which you may have heard in the entertainment industry. On-the-nose is the comment in the first paragraph -- what you see is what you get.
Here are some quick examples of subtext of the comment from the first paragraph:
1) "Hey, the driveway is my highway." With the right actor, it could be amusing by revealing a character trait (loves to drive).
2) "Next time you park that way, I'm going to bust you in the mouth." Uh-oh, we anticipate trouble (speaker is aggressive). Make some popcorn.
3) "Get your junk out of my way so I can get into the street." This could show the neighbor's car is an old rustbucket (speaker may be impatient and rude).
Just like any piece of good writing, the communication should be packed with message and then written or spoken using the fewest words possible.
The underlying communication layer called subtext is a way to do it.
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