Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: A Fall from Grace

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

In Nature:

A fallen bird's nest
Rock slide
A broken tree top
A crumbled cliff face
Flooding caused by a beaver dam
Destruction caused by weather
An uprooted tree
A tree stump
An animal abandoned by the pack (the loser in a contest for dominance, illness, etc)
A bird/squirrel/rodent being driven from an area by others of its species
A lake turned slew
Polluted rivers
Wilted flowers
Rotten fruit beneath a tree
An old forest fire site
Clear-cut logging sites

In Society:

A decorated cake upside down on the floor (fallen)
A store sign crashing to the ground
Abandoned buildings
A church confessional
Building demolitions
Crumbling landmarks (statues, iconic historical sites/buildings, etc)
Dock pilings jutting out of the water, the dock long rotted away
Sunken ships
Rust spots on a vehicle
Auto junk yards
Abandoned vehicles ravaged for parts and left on the side of the road/in empty fields or lots
Closed up hospitals, schools, businesses
Going out of business signs
Litter clogged streets
Sheets hung on windows instead of curtains
A dilapidated barn
A house with a sagging roof and peeling paint
An abandoned mansion, castle, church or plantation
A fence with rotten or missing boards
An old car spewing black exhaust & loud muffler
Old pools with a layer of leaves and debris on the bottom
Closed down gas stations & motels
Parking lots pavement riddled with heaving, cracks and weed tufts
A weed-filled garden
A stock market crash
Repo companies
A towing truck pulling a vehicle away
An impound lot
A jail cell
Hand cuffs
Neon lighting (for businesses) with burnt out or flickering lights
Prisoners of war
A team being booed by a crowd
Exiled presidents, de-throned monarchy
A child standing in the corner as punishment
Being grounded
Detention Hall
Being called to the Principal's office
A prison jumper

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with A Fall From Grace. Some are more powerful than others. An abandoned, crumbling mansion is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a fallen nest may not foreshadow a fall from grace on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.
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Shannon O'Donnell said...

There are some powerful examples here, Angela. I especially like the polluted rivers, clear-cut logging sites, dock pilings, and parking lot pavement examples. Thanks! :-)

Kirsten Lesko said...

Oh, I love it! The symbolism ones always help me so much.

The Gaelic Wordsmith said...

Just wanted to post my appreciation for your blog. It's obvious that you put a lot of time and effort into it and love to help other writers. Thanks!

Bish Denham said...

Oh my. Just reading the entries makes me feel sad for the fallen.

Jana Hutcheson said...

Great post! Thanks for the insight!

mikki said...

Great symbolism, Angela! I love the picture of the old barn..I guess it goes with "a fall from grace", but painting old falling-down barns is a special love of mine.


Helen Ginger said...

Great list. Sometimes the first idea that comes to mind is not the best one. It's good to remember that there is a long list of ideas to choose from.

Straight From Hel

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hello again! I have an award for you today! :-)

kathrynjankowski said...

Beavers curse?

I love these lists!

Angela said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I like this one especially because I think often we need to show when our characters fail.

Shannon, you're awesome!

Kathyrn, haha, good catch! I totally miseed that! All fixed now!


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