Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can I get a little symbolism with your character?

This month you've been introduced to the archetypes, the does and don'ts of heroines, those heroine archetypes we've said 'so long' to and the ones who are up and comers.

But the one thing I really didn't go over between heroes and heroines was symbolism.

It's not uncommon for me to spend a great amount of time building my characters. The same goes for my worlds, but that's a whole other month *wink*.

As we've discussed in the past is symbolism adds a different layer to your story, and when we attach symbols to a character, those symbols lend credence to the characterization.

What sort of symbols can be associated to a character? All sorts.

The easiest place to start with is the name. Do you know the meaning of your character's names? Do they mean anything if you use that name within the context of the story?

There are a ton of sites out there that can tell you the meaning of baby names. The trick is to attach the name to the story. This is all based on plot, (I know. I know. That is yet another month). Just think this is my plot and this is my storyline and this name works really well with both.

Symbolism in personal items. Probably the one I see the most, though most authors do this without understanding it. When we paint with words we use descriptive words to show color and textures. The thing is to think, if the name means this and the characterization is that, can I attach the two through personal items. Of course you can. A siren character should dress the part. An alpha hero should have items around him that reinforce his attitude.

Symbolism in habits. I'm not talking the twirling of hair or the popping of gum, though those can be significant attributes added to a character. What I'm talking about here is character symbols that relate to the back story. Since habits aren't formed within the length of a story, they should bounce back to the impact moment or be created as a result of the impact moment.

An example would be, a character who was a convict or tied up in some way at the impact moment. This character might tighten up. The one I use the most is the character adjusts his watch or a heroine might play with her bracelet. I attached the symbolism to the impact moment with a habit. But, the habit needs to mean something. Thus you also have to establish a connection to an emotion. The hero adjusts his watch on his wrist when he's feeling frustrated with the heroine or at work.

Symbols are rarely in your face. They are depth adding instruments that lend a new layer to your story.

So, you tell me, do you think symbolism is as important as I do? Is it an old art that should be left behind for the modern ideology of plain writing?

Until next time, cheers and happy writing,



Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Get rid of symbolism? No way!

What happens is that many writers use it unconsciously, so even if you may strive to remove it from your writing, some form or the other of symbolism will find its way through.

Symbols form part of the way we communicate, and as such, cannot be eradicated from any means of communication.

A very good post, T.J.



Sandy said...

I believe symbolism is very important and will never be outdated, T.J..

Excellent post.