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  1. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada

    Do you push symbolism?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Jul 24, 2012.

    I had this wild occurance in which a story I had been slaving over, suddenly developed
    a natural contrasting symbolism between the two main characters.
    I didn't even have to force it , it just appeared or maybe
    evolved subconsciously through certain choices. I'm so pleased
    but just wonder - if anyone out there has experienced this or if they have to
    force it.

    Here's an example of the symbolism I'm talking about - I'll use the Rainmaker movie ( Katherine
    Hepburn - not John Gresham ) It's about an outspoken old maid whose
    father and brothers are trying to marry her off to a distant relative.
    It's the summer and there's a drought ruining their livelihood. Suddenly a
    fraudulant Rainmaker blows into town , offering his services.
    Not only does he bring rain but he quenches Lizzie's (Katherine Hepburns ) 'drought'
    The parched land symbolisms Lizzie's parched love life. The rainmaker symbolizes taking a chance -
    one sensible brother doesn't want to spend their hard earned money on the scam , just like
    Lizzie doesn't trust his flattering words. Both have to let go and take a chance ,exercise some
    faith, for the rain ( love ) to flow. Without the symbolic drought - the story becomes an
    ordinary tale of an old maid finding love.
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    I don't push symbolism. In all of my fiction, I think there's been only two cases in which I've become aware of symbolism, and both of those were in a work I had revised many times. Once I spotted the symbols, I began to manipulate them a little, and that strengthened the draft, I think.

    IMO, it's a bad idea to start with symbols and try to force characters and events to conform. Let symbols emerge from your material, not the other way around.
  3. louis1

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Jan 3, 2012
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    I personally put lots of symbolism consciously. Put I would call it ''forcing it'' because to me it's the natural way to build a story. The story I'm writing is build on recurring symbols that add to the depth of the plot.
    To me symbols are essential subconscious foreshadowing tools.
  4. Prince_Genji

    Prince_Genji Member

    Sep 25, 2011
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    I have experienced it coming naturally. I thought that was totally natural. it happens with all my works, and attempts thereof.

    I believe symbolization is part of a natural way of seeing for humans. For example I always hear about people trying to stop stereotypes of races or the female sex. But regardless of the reason; if every time you tried to climb some stairs you fell and hurt yourself you would view all stairs as bad. Even if you only had experience trying to climb one single staircase your entire life, and knew that no other type of stairs would hurt you, you would still be very cautious trying to climb another. You wouldn't even need to try to climb some stairs, all you'd need is have people you trust tell you that stairs are dangerous. to sum up, if you viewed stairs as dangerous and believed your readers thought the same thing then you might unconsciously use stairs as a way of toning down the mood of the story, or to add drama to an otherwise dangerous situation.

    I don't think it's bad to force it. Just use it like you would spices on a meal. Too much of anything is bad. Be subtle.
  5. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Alive in the Superunknown

    Jun 28, 2012
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    There is conscious symbolism in my prose. It emerges on rewrite, or occasionally when I reread a few hundred words to regain a perspective. I try to be careful and minimize the presence of symbols, because they have a way of becoming pretentious in my hands.
  6. Pheonix

    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

    Jul 24, 2012
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    The Windy City
    In my writing I try to write realistically, making the characters the main focus (it doesn't always work, but it try :)) Life itself is full of symbolism, and if we stay true to life as writers, the symbols will come out organically, like what happened in your story.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Solar

    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 27, 2011
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    How much you after?
  8. Cassiopeia Phoenix

    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

    Mar 13, 2012
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    Not really. I realized it only later... Although I'm pretty aware of symbolism in other works rather than my own.
  9. DeepBlue10055

    DeepBlue10055 Member

    Jul 5, 2012
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    I think symbolism is best done very subtly, and like others said, writing a piece and then manipulating its symbolism can be very effective.

    But things like names are different. A name should be picked early on, and depending on your story, it can say a lot about whatever it is attached to. It may not be symbolism, but it is closely related and just as important.
  10. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    Well it emerged naturally at the planning stage - but when writing it does have to be a conscious effort because you actually have to subtly build it layer by layer, hint by hint. On my very first draft I pretty much preached and did horrible amounts of infodump - on the rewrite I deleted all that and replaced them with shorter, gentler hints. For me I worry the message wouldn't get across, so I hammer it in a little, and revise on the rewrite because then I know at least the stepping stone - even if not a very good one - is in place.
  11. Show

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 25, 2008
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    I don't push it too much beyond a few select symbolic themes. But apparently, some readers take away some symbolism anyway without me even consciously trying or even realizing it was there.
  12. Silvore

    Silvore New Member

    Jul 25, 2012
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    I would think to not push symbolism, but I actually did push symbolism in my story. I feel that if it is part of the basis of your story, if it is what you want it to embody what happens throughout the piece, then yes, pushing symbolism is okay. But I definitely wouldn't push symbolism halfway through the story just for the heck of it.
  13. Unit7

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 13, 2009
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    To intentionally include symbolism I would first need to know what I am writing. ;)

    Well ok. I have intentionally put symbolism in it. But when I did it sorta felt forced. It was a short piece about a school shooting from the shooter's perspective. All of his victims were wearing white and oddly enough that's usually where he hit the victim. The shooter himself was wearing black. Of course through the story you learn that those wearing white were not 'innocent' but the very people who bullied and pushed him closer and closer to the edge until he just... well snapped.
    (of course not saying they would deserve to be shot and killed or anything)

    But other then that and maybe a few more instances. I never really use any kind of symbolism intentionally. I just write the story. I have found that even if you were to try and avoid symbolism at all costs someone somewhere will find some anyways.

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