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 person or animal fording a river
Animals swimming against the current
A narrow track winding up a steep, rocky hill or mountain
Mountain goats, yaks, snow leopards, mountain lions and other high altitude animals
Nests on top of high pines
Predatory birds circling, on the hunt (eagles, falcons, etc)…
Bailing water from a boat
Boats fighting the waves/current/rapids
Standing steady when a wave hits
Weeds growing in sidewalk cracks
Plants growing toward windows and sunlight…
These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Perseverance. Some are more powerful than others. A tree clinging to the side of a cliff is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a stopwatch may not foreshadow perseverance 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.