You all have seen it, that meme that talks about the blue curtains in the book from the English Professors point of view, how they symbolize the despair of the moment and that they cover the window indicates no escape... and then from the writer's perspective:

The curtains were blue.

I've only written one book in which there's some veiled symbolism that I put any thought into, and my guess is no one would really get it but me. It's kind of amusing when people admire unintentional symbolism, llike the two brothers in the SENTINEL series mirroring their two cousins or racism in EXILE.

It's also cool, cuz it means the reader internalized the story and made it theirs. Which is at least half my job: get out of the reader's way so they can own the story.

I don't put much thought into symbolism. I think it's there, but largely unplanned.  Like I tend to use tattoos as a device to show character/backstory. But It's not like I'm all: Hey, I know! Jason will have a tattoo on his lower back to symbolize whatever bs I think it should.

I'm more like: Yeahhh. That's cool. I'm gonna do thaaaat.

And I bumble along and sometimes it means something and then sometimes it doesn't.

But hey. That's just me. 

What about you, writer-type, you? Do you employ symbolism on purpose?

1 comment:

Peter Dudley said...

Absolutely I employ symbolism on purpose, but not necessarily in obvious, overt ways. I think it's more overt in my flash and very short fiction, but it's present in everything I write. In fact, the entire plot arc of my in-work trilogy is symbolic in a certain subtle way. The physical things my characters go through are symbolic of their internal journeys. But I try to keep it as subtle as I can because I hate obvious "hey look at this, aren't I clever in making this symbolic connection!"