Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Deception

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:

Weather changes
Cloud cover
Sunlight (warms, creates growth but harmful UV)
Colorful yet Poisonous berries…

In Society:

Con men
Double lives/Aliases

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with DECEPTION. Some are more powerful than others. Telling a lie is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, the presence of a white-coated hare may not foreshadow Deception 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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Karen Lange
9 years ago

Great stuff! As always. Appreciate your efforts, Becca and Angela, so we don’t have to think quite as hard. I owe you both some chocolate.
Happy weekend,

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

Nice job, Angela.

As a former EverQuest addict, er, player, I can see the deception in roleplaying–men disguised as female characters, kids trying to pass themselves off as adult, a rare few players relating more to their online personas than with their real selves.

Welcome, Sia! It’s always nice to welcome a new visitor :).

~Sia McKye~
9 years ago

I used symbolisms quite frequently to set or reinforce a scene, character action/reaction.

I hadn’t read your blog before. Very interesting and informative. As the big guy says, “I’ll be back.”

Stina Lindenblatt
9 years ago

Love it!!! This is definitely going to be helpful with my current wip. 😀

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Thanks shopgirl–I’ll add those to the list!

Thanks everyone for the comments–glad this helps!

9 years ago

Great list. I always find the ones in nature intriguing, as they’re a subtle way to reinforce the action in the story.

9 years ago

This is a great list, I especially enjoyed the nature’s list so I’m tempted to try a few myself. How about:

Trap doors,

Julie Musil
9 years ago

Great list. The berries reminds me of that scene in Hunger Games. Deceptively sweet!

9 years ago

Thanks for the post.

C.R. Evers
9 years ago

awesome list and awesome pictures. I saw the lion! :0)

Shannon O'Donnell
9 years ago

Another great one for my Angela folder! 🙂

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Oh good ones, Susanne! I’ll add those. 🙂

The Golden Eagle
9 years ago

Another great post!

Susanne Drazic
9 years ago

Great list!

How about black ice?

Or Two-way mirrors?

Bish Denham
9 years ago

I kept trying to think of something to add, but I couldn’t! Nicely done.

Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

Ha! Another great one. Because isn’t there always some form of deception going on? Some interesting items on the list too…

Charlie Pulsipher
9 years ago

Great one this time! As I write my novel, I realize more and more how deceptive writing can be. I wanted a few clues in there early on that things are not exactly as they seem, nothing too overt to spoil the surprise. This serves as a nice refresher on deceit. Thank you as always.
Funny Stuff I Write

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Matt, with role playing, the player pretends to be something they are not–a character that does not exist. So in this sense it is deception, but more of an internal one–we deceive ourselves, investing in a life that is not our own for the sake of entertainment. Some people can get quite involved in RPG (WOW, anyone?) and take it very seriously (too seriously, sometimes). In some ways, deceiving ourselves is the ultimate deception!

Thanks everyone for the comments!

E.J. Wesley
9 years ago

Always love these, Angela!

Laura Pauling
9 years ago

I like this one. Great job, Angela!

9 years ago

A powerful thing to work into you stories, and so worth it. More great ideas!!

Jessie W.
Jessie W.
9 years ago

Ah perfect timing thank you so much

Awsome post as always =)

Matthew Rush
9 years ago

That’s interesting that you said Role Playing Games. I suppose a bit of deception is involved in any storytelling.

Alex J. Cavanaugh
9 years ago

Not sure how much I even use symbolism when writing.