Each thesaurus collection is built with one concept in mind: creating powerful description. So far, we’ve looked at how to show emotion, how to create effective comparisons and contrasts, and how to weave the 5 senses into our settings. The Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus will take things a step further. Not only will this new tool help you think more carefully about what you choose to describe, it will also help you utilize symbolism to create a lasting effect on the reader.
By definition, a symbol in writing is a word, phrase, or object that has a deeper meaning. Motifs are also symbols, but they’re ones that recur in a body of work in order to reinforce an underlying theme (e.g., the feather in Forrest Gump as a motif for destiny). Symbolism connects to readers on a higher, more intuitive level, reinforcing an important message, emotion, or theme that the writer wants to convey.
This makes symbolism a natural ingredient in description, because it encourages us to think harder about what we choose to describe and why. One of the biggest things I try to drive home in my posts is that all description must work hard to earn the right to be included.
Symbolism, when used correctly, adds another layer of connection to our reader, pulling them more deeply to feel as they read, helping them better understand the plight of the protagonist.
Each entry of the Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus will center on a specific thematic idea found in today’s fiction. Redemption, loyalty, alienation, a fall from grace…these are examples of possible entries and will include possible descriptive choices to help reinforce each theme or idea to your readers. The choices will center on common descriptives rather than obscure ones to make sure the symbolism translates to today’s readers.
Symbols and motifs are powerful. They affect how we feel about something; this is why symbolism is used so often as a marketing tool. Think for a moment of a book cover and the role it plays in whether you take it to the checkout or not. Regardless of how you feel about Stephanie Meyer’s books, I don’t think anyone can deny the symbolic power of the Twilight cover. As writers, we need to infuse our desired meaning across to our audience in every manner possible…and in our writing most of all.
You can view all of the entries in this collection on this page. And here’s some good news! So you can reap the full benefit of this powerful tool, we’ve added 30 new entries and integrated it into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Each entry comes with a long list of ideas for symbols and motifs, and we’ve included popular symbolism examples from literature and movies, as well. We’ve also expanded the entries to include key information on popular themes associated with these symbols, so you can more easily incorporate those into your writing.
These entries have also been cross-referenced for easy searchability across all our other thesauri. To see a free sample of the updated Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus along with our other collections, pop on over and register at One Stop.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.