NEW! The Symbolism Thesaurus

Each thesaurus collection is built with one concept in mind--creating powerful description. So far we've looked at how to show emotion, how to create effective comparisons and contrasts, and how to weave the 5 senses into our settings. The Symbolism Thesaurus will take things a step further. Not only will this new tool help you think more carefully about what your choose to describe, it will also help you utilize symbolism to create a lasting effect on the reader.

By definition, symbolism in writing is a word, phrase or object that has a deeper meaning. Symbolism connects to readers on a higher, more intuitive level, reinforcing an important message, theme or emotion that the writer wants to convey.

This makes Symbolism a natural ingredient in description, because it encourages us to think harder about what we choose to describe and why. One of the biggest things I try to drive home in my posts is that all description must work hard to earn the right to be included. Symbolism, when used correctly, adds another layer of connection to our reader, pulling them more deeply to 'feel' as they read and it contributes to a stronger attunement to the plight of the protagonist.

Each entry of the Symbolism Thesaurus will center on a specific thematic idea found in today's fiction. Redemption, loyalty, alienation, a fall from grace...these are examples of possible entries and will show possible descriptive choices in which to help reinforce each theme or idea to your readers. The choices will center on common descriptives rather than obscure ones to make sure the symbolism translates to today's readers.


Symbolism is powerful. It affects how we feel about something--this is why it is used so often as a marketing tool. Think for a moment of a book cover and the role it plays in whether you take it to the checkout or not. I don't think anyone can deny the symbolic power of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight cover. As writers, we need to infuse our desired meaning across to our audience in every manner possible...and in our writing most of all.

Many thanks to JentheAmazing, who choose the Symbolism Thesaurus from my list of possible descriptive Thesauri for The Bookshelf Muse. I hope it will become as valuable a writing resource as the other Thesaurus Collections!

All entries for this thesaurus can be found in our SIDEBAR...enjoy!

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23 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

That is the theme I would have chosen. I'm really looking forward to this series, Angela. Yay! (I better get some more toner for my printer!) :-)

Anonymous said...

What are the other thesauruses you have in mind for the future?

Love what you are doing
Ray, Norway

Liana Brooks said...

I love this one! I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

Lost Wanderer said...

I love this theme. Symbolism, whether intentional or not, can be a powerful tool in writing. For most writers, I think symbols come naturally through the story, if there is consistency in the plot and theme, and when one realises it at the end of the first draft, it's an amazing feeling.

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

This should be interesting, especially since symbolism is what made a lot of us run screaming from wanting to be writers in the first place (high school English, anyone?).

The Sesquipedalian said...

Great theme! I'll definitely be following along with this series. Thanks!

L.J. Boldyrev said...

I love this! Great addition, Angela. Thanks!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm excited to see what descriptive choices you come up with for the symbolic themes. This is fascinating, and you are so clever!

Bish Denham said...

Oh I am most definitely hyped about this one!

Ann Finkelstein said...

I'm looking forward to it.

Karen Lange said...

Once again, you make me think! Love how you describe it as adding another layer. Thanks for sharing:)

Angela said...

Thanks everyone. I hope this works out as I envision. :-) Guess we'll see!

Ray, I would love to tell you all about my future thesaurus collections, but then I would have to sic zombies after you to preserve the secret! And people who tell me they love what I'm doing make much better Musers than zombies. :-)

Lost Wanderer, I agree that symbolism does often come naturally. What I hope is to create a space that gets us thinking more about how to make our description more intentional by thinking about how certain images affect us and convey messages.

Very excited for Thursday!

Jennifer M Nunes said...

Sounds exciting! Can't wait to see the first installment!

Lisa_Gibson said...

I always love your posts! So valuable. I am so looking forward to this series. Truly terrific.

Deb Salisbury said...

I'm looking forward to these posts. I know it makes a novel richer, but I tend to overlook symbolism. Sigh.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

This is very exciting news, Angela! Can't wait. Your blog is always a wonderful source of information for writers. Thank you!

Mikki said...

I love all of your thesauruses( thesauri ? )and am really looking forward to this one. And I love the new look of your blog, it's great!

Mikki-wordpainter

PJ Hoover said...

It sounds perfect! you never cease to amaze me.

Emily said...

I'm really excited for this. The other thesauruses have been very useful and I've always kept them in the back of my mind while writing. I'm sure this one will be of even more help!

Laura Mae said...

This whole website is without a doubt the most useful thing I've ever come across. It is ten times as good as any writing software, article, or book about writing, and I consult this blog whenever I need some inspiration or am trying to kick start passages of description (in particular using the symbolism thesaurus). Thank you so much for creating such a useful tool for writers, this is pretty amazing tbh.

Angela Ackerman said...

Wow! Thank you so much Laura Mae. Becca and I have worked hard on this blog because we understand just how much writers need to juggle to become successful. If the ideas we share here can improve description skills, we're happy to contribute!

I am always happy to hear from people who our content helps. It reinforces that we're on the right track with this blog. *dreams* Who knows, maybe someday we'll get one of those shiny gold "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites" buttons!

Again, thanks for the kind comment--you made my day. :)

Angela

cweaks said...

Just wanted to say how amazing you two are. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I could LIVE on this site :) XOXO

Becca Puglisi said...

Yay! So glad it's coming in handy.

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