Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Borders/Barriers

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:

Mountain range

In Society:


*Barriers can also be economic, educational, physical health restraints, mental limitations (fears, phobias) and popularity (money, degrees, handicap, memberships, notoriety)

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Borders/Barriers. Some are more powerful than others. A concrete barrier wall is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, the presence of a baby gate in a home might not foreshadow a border/barrier 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.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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14 Responses to Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Borders/Barriers

  1. Paul C says:

    This is another helpful list of possibilities for symbolic encounters.

  2. Thanks Angela! I love when symbolism pops up naturally and I didn’t plan it. 🙂

  3. I WANT to put some symbolism in my new wip. Hmmm. What to use? What to use? 🙂

    Great post as always. 😀

  4. I’m glad you are back.
    The list was thought provoking and in-keeping with the sleeping arrangements I’ve been planning for my MG set in a prep-boarding school 🙂

  5. Thanks everyone! My internet was down today, so a nice welcome to get all these comments once I got back online. 🙂

  6. Beth says:

    How do you come up with such great ideas, Angela? Once again you’ve given me some terrific concepts to mull over!

  7. Julie Musil says:

    What great images! Thanks for the amazing tips.

  8. Great advice on what might count as a barrier.

  9. Carol Riggs says:

    I love using symbolism! Never thought about all these types of barriers, small and large. Thanks for the “food” for thought!

  10. Heather says:

    This is excellent! Things to throw in my character’s way. Thank you!

  11. Brilliant, Angela – as always! I can’t wait to share it with my students. 🙂

  12. Matthew Rush says:

    I used to have a cubicle. Now I miss it.

    Just kidding. Great work as usual Angela!

  13. Saumya says:

    These are incredible! I do not know what I would do without your thesaurus. Wow.

  14. excellent list as always, is it weird that when i saw Borders I immediately thought bookstore?

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