Archive for April 7th, 2010

Apr 07 2010

Some Tips on Using Literary Symbols

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

1. I would recommend using your symbols in unexpected ways. For example, fire is most commonly used to symbolize destruction and/or Hell.  However, there are so many more options that are creative and fresh.  For example, fire represented ignorance (and possibly political correctness) in Fahrenheit 451 and civilization in the story of Prometheus. If the symbolic meaning you’re going for is the first one that comes to mind with that symbol, maybe you could be a bit more creative.

1A.  If you got your symbol from a list somewhere, it’s probably too obvious. For example, tree -> life, fire -> destruction/Hell, spring -> rebirth/life, apple -> loss of innocence, water -> atonement or cycles, etc.  Think on it some more and you’ll probably come up with something that fits your story better than these.  For example, the recurring symbol for destruction/doomsday in Watchmen is a ticking clock.  In The Godfather, death is usually preceded by an orange.  (!)

2. In a comic book script, make sure that you tell your artist how you want the symbol to appear. Otherwise, the artist may inadvertently mangle the meaning of the symbol. For example, if technology is supposed to be a sign of progress and civilization in your story, you’d probably want the cars to look shiny and new rather than grimy and decrepit. Unless you specify otherwise, it’s up to the artist’s judgment.

Continue Reading »

7 responses so far