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Subtext (How To Be Interesting)

by Cajun

Gather around everyone, it's time for Acting 101: Subtext!

What is subtext? In the acting world, subtext is the underlying meaning behind spoken words as interpreted by an actor. What does that mean? Basically, you're adding additional meaning to your spoken words by the way you say them. I'll give you an example.

Let's say I have the following (cheesy) script for a scene in which I'm about to act:

JOHN and MARY are alone in the bedroom. Mary is upset and John is comforting her.

JOHN: "Mary, everything is going to be okay. I just want you to know that I love you."

Now if I'm going to play JOHN in this scene there is a lot of information I'm going to need in order to apply the proper subtext to my dialogue, such as:

    • What is the relationship between John and Mary? If they are siblings then the line would be spoken much differently than if they were lovers.

    • What happened immediately beforehand? What if this scene took place right after they had sex? How would you reflect that in the above line of dialogue?

This is all information that can be implied with the proper subtext.

So what does this have to do with game? Everything!

I tell students all the time that "it doesn't matter what you say, it's how you say it!" Women are masters at subtext. They know that there are loads of information hidden in the way something is said. That's why women can get so bitchy over seemingly trivial things that guys say; they know what we're thinking!

So how do you use subtext effectively? I'll give you an example of something I do.

Let's say you're in a venue gaming and you see a great group. Now in any given group at the venue, realistically, the subtext of your dialogue is going to be "I'm trying to win you over and make you like me." A lot of guys subconsciously use this subtext when they open and are often rejected. Why? Because the women read into your subtext and knew exactly what you were doing. This is why you will hear "Is that a line?" so often, even if she hadn't heard it before.

A better way to approach is to use the subtext of your opener. This is how most successful pickup artists operate. For instance, my opener involves me asking women if I look like a drug dealer, so the subtext is simply that it's bothering me that I look like a drug dealer, and I need their opinion. When I say the opener I put myself in the mind frame that it just happened to me so that my subtext is believable. This is what I did for a long time and it's how I got good at opening. But, it's boring and doesn't really create attraction, there's a better way.

Before I continue, I offer a disclaimer: I am an actor and use my acting abilities whenever I can if it benefits me, so you can bet that I act when I'm approaching women. If you have a problem with that or think that it's unethical theatrics and trickery then just stop reading now before you get upset.

The best way to approach, in my experience, is to look at the venue as a stage (stop laughing) and look at each group as a scene you can enter. Instead of using the above mind frames when opening I'm going to use the subtext of a completely made up scenario that makes me exude attractiveness. So I'm going to approach the group under the subtext of "I just slept with all of these women" and I will communicate that to them by the way I speak, not by the words I'm saying. All of my dialogue will remain the same as it normally is.

So what happens? Remember how I said women are masters of subtext? Well, in this case, you're going to be glad that they are. If you're good at subtext (and if you're not, then take acting and improv lessons!) they are going to catch on very quickly and you will create attraction almost instantaneously. Women love guys that they can't quite figure out, so if you go in acting like you just slept with them then you are basically a social enigma, which they love.

Students say things like "I don't understand, you were talking to them about robots for three minutes and then all of a sudden they were making out with you. How the hell did that happen?" Using subtext is how it happened. You don't always have to use the subtext of "I just slept with these women." You can use whatever you want, but this one works very well and I've had a lot of success with it.

To see if Cajun is teaching a program in your area, check out our schedule here.

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