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 straight, tall pine or spruce tree
A strutting rooster
A freshly washed or waxed car
A parent with her well-groomed/dressed children
Awards, trophies, medals, ribbons
T-shirts bearing team names and slogans
These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Pride. Some are more powerful than others. A screaming crowd cheering for their school football team is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a single tree growing straight and tall may not foreshadow Pride 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.
C.R. Evers says
Another awesome entry. You go girl!
Laura Pauling says
Thanks! And what a great word to choose after visiting Africa! Welcome back!
Bish Denham says
Thanks Angela. The darkening sky of thickening rain clouds is a good one.
Medeia Sharif says
It’s interesting to see that I use so many symbols unintentionally.
What a great post! I loved this. It really is neat to see how all of us interpret words. If you grabbed six people and put them in a different room and asked them what Pride meant, I’m sure you’d get six completely different answers.
I would have never thought about animals, such a lion being the leader of the Pride but with a football game and all of us cheering for support, pride is on the brain!
Deb Salisbury says
A great list! I was a little surprised there were so few symbols in nature, but I certainly can’t think of any more. Everytime I thought I had, it turned out to be a fantasy creature – dragon, phoenix, griffin … :blush:
Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw says
Your right pride is both good and bad depending on how far it is pushed. Thanks for the new entry.
Matthew Rush says
Context can also help to focus or blur a symbol, which is probably pretty obvious.
Angela, have I told you you’re brilliant lately? Oh, that was in an email? Well then I’ll say it publicly.
Angela Ackerman says
Thanks Susanne 🙂
Tricia, I couldn’t agree more. Often what clarifies or enhances a symbol is how the POV character feels about it, or how it affects them. 🙂
Tricia J. O'Brien says
As I pondered this post, I realized how important viewpoint is in symbols. For instance, letter jackets are a symbol of accomplishment, status, belonging to the elite to many people, but to others they are seen as conformist, arrogant, elitist.
Susanne Drazic says
Great examples! Thanks for sharing.