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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 8/6/2011 1:52 AM PDT
MTGradwell's answer is excellent. In addition, if you're simply looking to practice using symbolism in writing, try coming up with a highly conceptual plot-line (something suitably philosophical, a musing or observation on human nature perhaps,) and brainstorm up a short story idea.
Concentrate on the overarching themes of your story, the message; what things, physical or otherwise, come to mind? Free-associate, do some research, even ask around back here in the forums or with friends in real life. Play around with the imagery. The old creative-writing adage of "show, don't tell," applies to symbolism too. Explaining symbolism often feels heavy-handed or even condescending towards the reader. If you must explain it, doing so through a character's self-reflection, per MTGradwell's examples, is generally a more sophisticated way to go about it.
Lastly, I find the best symbolism is the kind that is the least obvious while still being insidious and common enough that most readers of a similar background will subconsciously internalize it. Symbolism doesn't have to be blatant, it's only purpose is to enhance the impact of the underlying meaning you wish to pass to your readers.
Posted: 2/28/2011 6:36 AM PST
Symbols shouldn't be added to a story just for the sake of adding symbols. They should represent something which is important to the characters.
Example: A pocket watch is a symbol of time - that's fairly obvious. But when Hank is presented with one as a retirement gift it becomes more specific than that. It becomes a symbol of *wasted* time, because he never liked his employers and always dreamed of escaping from them by becoming a famous artist, or rock star, or whatever. He can never look at the watch without reproaching himself for his failure to escape. To Sal, a retiree who actually enjoyed her work, a similar gift becomes a symbol of *too much* time. The days drag, because she no longer has any work to fill them with. She wears hers on a chain around her neck, and it feels heavy, weighing her down. She calls it her albatross. Hank and Sal both dream of taking hammers to their respective watches, and destroying them.
Dreams are a good way of introducing symbols into a story or exploring their meaning, since it's generally accepted that most of the elements in dreams are symbolic.
Posted: 1/28/2011 11:27 AM PST
Are you looking for someone to help you symbolize those words? I'm not really sure what you're asking for here.
Posted: 1/18/2011 12:48 PM PST
I want to write a story with heavy symbolism, just for practice. Unfortunately, the majority of my endeavors in symbolic writing occurred when I was younger and in the "emo" phase of my life, so I'm a bit out of touch.
Right now, I'm just looking for some brainstorming? The following is from my list of current "I like" ideas:
Red pen – marker
“Yesterday I looked up at the sun and with one breath, blew it out”
Please do comment, with whatever response you feel fit. If you can think of something to help, please let me know! Thank you :)