Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer’s advantage by planting symbols in the reader’s path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.
Look at the setting and the character’s state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character’s emotional plight?
A tree separated by its fellows by a fence or path
The runt of the litter
An animal hanging back from the herd
A pile of pulled weeds
A straggling bird trying to keep up with the flock
Sitting alone in a crowded cafeteria
A single car in the parking lot
A person sitting alone at the back of a bus
A sign that excludes (“Members only” or “You must be 18 years of age to enter”)
Private clubs, societies, group memberships
A kid at a skateboard park with no skateboard…
These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Alienation. Some are more powerful than others. A group of animated, laughing teenagers who suddenly go silent at your presence is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a single car in a parking lot may not foreshadow alienation on its own.Let the story’s tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.
Symbolism is a universal language that can add great depth and meaning to your story.
So you can reap the full benefit of this powerful tool, we’ve expanded the entire collection by 70% 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. 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.