1. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    need help with symbolism/imagery plz

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by g1ng3rsnap9ed, Mar 10, 2009.

    Hey all, its G1ngy. (A new Poster on these mighty fine Forums.) Looks like I've come across a question in the novel that I am currently working on that has to do with symbolism/imagery. The plot-line itself is rather complex and I'm still working out the kinks, so if you don't mind I'll just be skippin to the Q.

    The main character stumbles across an unearthly artifact that sends her an image of her deceased father. What I originally wrote was the girl seeing an image of her father in the overhead stars, then I decided to changed it to her seeing an empty hallway and at the end a door with her father's name underneath a paint-brush. (Her father was a painter.)

    I'm still unsure over whether or not I should use the second idea, and I don't think that the first worked well at all. Any suggestions would be mucho appreciated. :)

    (By the way: MistahBlistah, if you're reading this then my question pertains to the story that I Posted the prologue to on the Jo-Blo Forums.)
     
  2. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    It depends on a lot of things, so I'm just going to do some speculative ranting and then you can pick out the good ideas.

    Is this a message specifically from her father to her? Like, he has something terribly important to tell her (Krenna, I left the water on.... please shut it off for me, kthx bye) and the artifact is a way of linking him to her despite her death. In this case, it will probably either be a) a ghostly image of him the way he saw himself or the way he was when he died or the way he was when his funeral was conducted or b) his voice and a semidistinct form.

    Or is it a powerful artifact that gives form to her thoughts? So he might appear full-bodied, opaque, just as she last saw him. Or he might appear as she tends to best remember him, with paint splotches on his smock and a brush behind one ear. Or she might re-watch his death, or see him sitting and painting - maybe he even "sees" her and starts speaking, but of course she cannot hear him. "Of course not. Her father was dead. This was just an image - a painting of a painter, hanging ghostlike in the air..."

    Or is there some specific religion-based or your-world-based Other Thing that happens? Like, does he literally "pour out" of the artifact and onto the ground, because magic in your world works that way? Or is he summoned from the sky, from Mars because he was born when that planet was in the sky, so it has dominance over his soul after death? If your world has earth-based magic, a fog might rise from the ground and coalesce into his form. If you have light-based magic, the starshine might turn into a reflection on something.

    Or if it is emotionally tied, does it link to something that means more? Like, if he had a thin porcelain plate which he mixed paints on, does she see a hand - her father's, perhaps recognisable by a ring or a specific scar or missing finger - holding the plate, and then the plate falls, and cracks into shards on the ground? (Hah! What if the shards DON'T GO AWAY when the rest of the vision does, because the artifact is so strong? What if they only go away when she touches them, so that she could scoop them up with a washcloth and preserve them as relics?)

    Anyhow. Enjoy.
     
  3. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Great ideas,Heinlein! Its not a personal artifact, but I like the idea of her seeing her father as she last saw him.

    Thanks a bunch. :)
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think to answer the question, I would need to understand what your intentions are with the symbolism. Does it play an important part for later? Are you trying to make a statement with out making it directly, or some metaphorical connection?

    What you are trying to accomplish with the symbolism is most important.

    If you don't know what you are trying to accomplish with the symbolism then it doesn't matter so much what the symbolism is.

    However, a symbol must stand for something it is not. So red could stand for love, and the paintbrush could stand for creative power, or creative influence, etc.

    If you use the paintbrush, know what it stands for, if anything at all.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as arch notes, we can't really advise you without knowing more about what the symbol is meant to do and what the context is... more info is needed to offer valid suggestions...
     
  6. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    I will tell you my most honest opinion...:)

    The idea of relating the father to the starry heavens is more of, what I call in these circumstances, a universal archetype. By that I mean that any person, of any culture or background, and have a reaction or opinoin to that particular referance. By saying that the father was associated with painting, can only lead a person to ideas of what I call a specialized archetype, meaning that, simply, the connotations/denotations associatied with that will appeal to a minority of people. All in all, many writers would say to, especially at the beginning, write for a specific audience. However, to acheive marketability - not to be nessicairly a mass market paperback - but to be acceptably profitable, on must "spread the net wide" in certain instances. With nothing else to go on, I'd say go with the heavens archetype. With even a little bit of disaplined imagination, it would be easy to draw referances from any religion, for example. Religions are chock full of symbolism. Sci-Fi, also, has much to draw on.

    Sorry if I did not answer appropriatly, but I think it was the symbolism that you were looking for....:redface:
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The symbolism and imagery you choose is intimately related to the story you wish to tell, and what elements you would highlight. No one can choose that for you.
     
  8. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Very true. Thanks everybody for the responses btw. :)
     
  9. writing4me
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    writing4me Member

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    Hey I'd just like to say I have a similar problem with the symbolism and imagery for a short story of mine and I'd like to thank HeinleinFan for his suggestions.

    CJ
     
  10. Mcarpenter
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    Mcarpenter Contributing Member

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    What if, instead of a vision, she just keeps seeing paint brushes lying around where no one would have been to leave one. Like lying propped against the glass in a window seal. Or in the pocket of her coat after she puts it on. In the seat of her car, etc...
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I find that symbolism and imagery is somthing that improves with time and practice.
     
  12. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Has anybody else ever written something without any symbolism in mind, then found out later on that subconsciencely(sp?) it represents something? :p
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Happons all the time with me; like I said - it is somthing that just grows.
     
  14. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    I think that's the whole point of symbolism...;)
     
  15. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Hmm...that could very well be so. :)
     

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