Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Alright gather around everyone, its time for acting 101: Subtext!

What is subtext? For acting, 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:

Lets say I have the following (cheesy) script for a scene I’m about to act in:

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

John: Mary, everything is going to be ok, 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. Things like:

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 just before? 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 “It doesn’t matter WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it” Women are MASTERS at subtext, they know that there is 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 were thinking!

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

So let’s say you’re in a venue gaming and you see a great set. Now in any given set at the venue, realistically, the subtext of the dialogue you exchange with them is going to be “Im trying to win you over and make you like me.” A lot of guys subconsciously use this subtext when they open and are often blown out. 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?” 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 puas operate. For instance, my opener involves me asking girls if I look like a drug dealer, so the subtext is simply that its 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 its how I got good at opening but its boring and doesn’t really create attraction…there is a better way.

Before I continue, a disclaimer: I am an actor and use my acting abilities whenever I can if it benefits me, so you can bet your ass that I act when I’m in set. If you have a problem with that or think that it’s unethical theatrics and trickery best left for the gypsies 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 set as a scene you can enter into. Instead of using the above mind frames when opening im going to use the subtext of a completely made up scenario that makes me exude attractiveness. So I’m going to enter into the set under the subtext of “I just slept with all of these girls” and I will communicate that to them by the way I speak, not by the words im saying. All of my dialogue will remain the same as it normally was.

So what happens? Remember how I said women are MASTERS of subtext? Well in this case, you’re going to be glad they are. If you’re good at subtext (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 cant quite figure out, so if you go in acting like you just slept with them then you are basically a social enigma, which is like crack to them.

When students ask me things like “I don’t understand, you were talking to them about robots for 3 mins 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 girls” you can use whatever you want, but this one works very well and I’ve had a lot of success with it.

Subtext is one of those things that’s pretty hard to grasp through reading so if anyone would like to know more…I’m available for 1 on 1s



Pinnacle said...

Interesting...I remember Sinn told
me that PU is a lot like acting.

I googled some acting websites and found some discussion about text vs. context vs. subtext.

In the PU lingo, I'm accustomed to, I'd
say that subtext is the nonverbal
subcommunication manifestation of
your meta-frame.

Prodigy said...

I'm glad you put it into light like this. Reminds me of Juggler's recommendation of using assumptions except subtext is much more poweful. In juggler method you assume that you are going home with the girl. Using subtext you have all ready slept with the girl, thereby negating all pressure.

kahala said...

Still perusing your blog as I procrastinate on some work. The term "subtext" I think sounds rather vague and maybe even boring because it's been used to death. But this blog entry is one of the simplest explanations of the dynamics of opening I have ever read. As I think I read somewhere else... when you make a statement to them, they will instantly identify the "missing information" and then include a reference to it in their reply. The trick you're hitting on is that YOU have to know what that missing information is gonna be BEFORE you go in. When you did the drug dealer routine in Keys, she instantly came back with "Do you think you look like..." That is the missing information. That is the thing that is implicit in the question you opened with. I thought the real value was how you replied to her response. You could care less. Now you tell me, what's the missing info in THAT statement? Seconds later she was yours for the taking. So much she didn't feel worthy. Beautfiully played.

Joe said...

My take on subtext part 1:

Adam said...

good stuff, well informative.
Have to absorb that into my game.