Monday, January 18, 2016

Accidental Symbolism

Ah, symbolism. The bane of my existence in high school that took a poem about a tree and turned it into a poem about everything except a tree and made all my answers to the test wrong.

I had a literal mind. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the notion of something representing something else. And forget about me actually adding symbolism to my own work.

I've gotten better at recognizing symbolism in books and movies, but never tried to add it in my stories because I thought I was awful at it. Everything I tried screamed "hey, by the way, that pond represents his relationship with his mother!".

So imagine my surprise when I'm reading through the first few chapters of my work in progress and realize that the main character's illogically going after a warship that attacked his ship, even though there's no way he could beat them, is basically symbolizing (and accidentally foreshadowing) his later battles with the big bad guys.

The warship damaged his ship, the bad guys tried to assassinate his beloved, both are giant entities he's in a David and Goliath battle with...

I've noticed other instances of this in my writing, and while I've definitely seized these and ran with them, I still can't do it on purpose. Almost makes me wonder if any of the literary masters I was forced to read and scrutinize in school actually planned every bit of their symbolism, and if my teachers ever picked up on something Poe or Dickinson didn't intend.

And what will people find in my books?

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