The Manual

The Most Important Page Ever

If you do nothing else, commit this page to memory. Make it as much a part of yourself as breathing. Even if you decide Subtext is not a perfect fit for you, always always remember this one thing:

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

So many writers start out wanting to write about something: love, heartbreak, caste systems, war—and then end up giving up halfway because the story really isn’t going anywhere.

That’s because Subject Matter is not Conflict.

Sure, there’s conflict within heartbreak and caste systems—but then you’re talking about what’s running underneath those things. You’re talking about the Subtext of the Subject Matter (and yes, that’s 100% why you see that word in bold letters at the top of this screen).

Heartbreak is a result of conflict, but what truly led to the break? Was it an overwhelming drive to chase something new, an abundance of feeling inadequate, or was it merely the appearance of impropriety on behalf of one party of or the other?

Caste systems don’t reflect conflict. If anything, they signify the absence of conflict—everyone sectioned off in their own respective categories.

Some people love caste systems, others—usually the ones as the bottom—not so much. Don’t assume that because you think something is bad, or in conflict, that it applies to everyone.

Subject matter (your opinion) is not Conflict.

A caste system put in place to direct the efforts of its individuals for the benefit of the common good? Now that’s conflict. In that example, there exists a motivation to control that can only be resolved by freedom. The question for you as Author to understand is—would that move towards freedom be a good thing for everyone involved, or was the control necessary to keep everyone alive?

That’s a story.

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

What you think is wrong is not Conflict.

Conflict is the juxtaposition of two incompatible truths that cannot co-exist in the same space and time.

War is not conflict. Wars can go on for centuries, without an end in sight—shaggy dog tales of unspeakable atrocities.

War is Subject Matter.

One man considers nothing less than self-autonomy, and will fight to the death to achieve it. Another juggles the intricacies of the group politic, in an attempt to do what’s right by saving lives on the way to liberty. Both cannot exist in the same space at the same time, they cannot rest at once in the same mind.

The two form a dilemma.

The two form a story.

Your story is a mind caught between truths. Don’t bathe it in the mindless prattle that is Subject Matter. Give your incompatibility—give your story inequity—to manufacture a sense of dilemma, and an urge to resolve the difference.

Gift your story a reason to exist.

Subject Matter is not Conflict.

Cognitive Dissonance is Conflict.

tip

For those using Subtext: Anytime you are asked to write something about your story here in this app, ALWAYS write about HOW that something creates Conflict, don’t just treat it like Subject Matter