Blog Post

J. J. Abrams Advocates Writing With Subtext

May 26th, 2021

In a recent interview, director J.J.Abrams laments the lack of a plan while filming the Star Wars sequel trilogy;

I’ve been involved in a number of projects that have been – in most cases, series – that have ideas that begin the thing where you feel like you know where it’s gonna go, and sometimes it’s an actor who comes in, other times it’s a relationship that as-written doesn’t quite work, and things that you think are gonna just be so well-received just crash and burn and other things that you think like, ‘Oh that’s a small moment’ or ‘That’s a one-episode character’ suddenly become a hugely important part of the story.

Sounds like the natural process of recognizing meaning after the fact. Nothing really wrong with that—if you have something that can readily reflect back what it is you have written.

Something other than other people’s opinions.

I feel like what I’ve learned as a lesson a few times now, and it’s something that especially in this pandemic year working with writers [has become clear], the lesson is that you have to plan things as best you can, and you always need to be able to respond to the unexpected. And the unexpected can come in all sorts of forms, and I do think that there’s nothing more important than knowing where you’re going.”

Our writing app for creative geniuses, Subtext, does just that—it generates a structure based on what you want to say with your work: an outline from a thematic premise.

You just never really know, but having a plan I have learned – in some cases the hard way – is the most critical thing, because otherwise you don’t know what you’re setting up. You don’t know what to emphasize. Because if you don’t know the inevitable of the story, you’re just as good as your last sequence or effect or joke or whatever, but you want to be leading to something inevitable.”

That inevitably we call intention here at Narrative First, Inc. In fact, that’s the reason for the name: get the narrative first, and then start writing.

Even if you set off in the wrong direction, at least you’re not aimlessly wandering the desert of your imagination. If you get lost, with Subtext you know where you are and can quickly find your way back to a meaningful path.

Anything less, and your Audience will leave you to wither away in the hot and merciless sun.

(Maybe even a double sun).