Symbolism and Motif Entry: Superstitions and Signs (Good Luck)

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?

In Nature:

Clear skies
Mild weather
Ladybugs
Shooting stars
Rainbows
Dolphins…

In Society:

Rubbing a Buddha’s belly
Finding a penny
Horseshoe
The big half of a turkey wishbone
Finding a parking spot close to destination
Finding a meter with time on it…

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Luck. Some are more powerful than others. A four leaf clover is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, the presence or gift of an egg may not foreshadow Luck on its own. Let the story’s tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

*NOTE: This collection of good luck symbols is not complete, only some of the most common. Different cultures and parts of the world have their own luck totems.

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.

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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12 Responses to Symbolism and Motif Entry: Superstitions and Signs (Good Luck)

  1. That’s fascinating – I had no idea elephants and eggs and acorns were considered good luck. I’m guessing an egg that slipped out of your hand went splat on the floor would be bad luck, though. 🙂

  2. Next time I send out a query, I’m kissing my husband first for luck. 😀

  3. Great discussion. Thanks for sharing this. Some of these symbols I hadn’t considered before.

  4. Thanks everyone for the great comments. I’m glad this one gets people thinking. I agree Medeia, symbolism should be used with a light hand. 🙂

    Sharon, I’m so glad you like this resource. I know it might be tempting to print out what I have here, but as it’s something I may end up putting in a book one day, I don’t encourage it.

    I’ve worked hard on these and post them freely for others to use, but at the same time want to make sure I retain control over different types of published formats. I know that your comment was likely just meant off-the-cuff, but I felt like I should address it as copyright is important to me. 🙂

    Hope everyone is having a great writing week!

    Angela

  5. Angela–I’m think swk is right. I was just thinking I should print off all of your posts and use them as a resource book.

  6. I use symbolism with a light hand in my writing. It reinforces the tone and setting.

  7. This is so cool–to add a touch of superstition. You always give me so much to ponder.

  8. Lia Victoria says:

    What a wonderful idea for a post! I’ve never considered doing something like this before. Thanks!

  9. SWK says:

    You should totally turn your thesauri (sp ?) into an iPod app for writers. Such fun to read and think about your lists.

  10. Great post. I sprinkled some things like that into my book. Because it deals with the U.S., I wanted very All-American hints. For instance, they have apple pie at one point, hot dogs later and talk baseball.

  11. Of course, as always! This one was a fun one to write. 🙂 I think our characters are always looking for a little luck. 🙂

    Angela

  12. Another awesome writing post, Angela. This is such an important way to reinforce setting, as well as character and more. Can we link you for tomorrow’s round-up? Thanks so much!

    Marissa

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