And subtlety is not everything in writing. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the idea of show not tell, that we go all subtle about everything, even stuff that doesn't need to be subtle. I had this with a student last term. The character was doing...something to something, I couldn't quite work out what. It turned out that the mysterious object was a chair, and the character was sitting down on it.
'Why didn't you just say that?' I asked.
'I wanted to be subtle about it, to make the reader work and engage with my writing.'
Hmm. That's fine in principle, but this wasn't an important plot device or an allusion to motivation. Sometimes we can be too clever. Sometimes a chair is a chair, and just gets sat on.