Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Borders/Barriers

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:

Shoreline/coastline
Mountain range
Deserts
Crevasses
Cliffs
Rivers
Lakes
Oceans
Fire
Water
Swamp
Ice fields
Reefs
Waterfalls
Flooding
Lava flows
Avalanches
Forest line
Ridge line
Weather conditions
Temperature
Altitude
Ledges
Creeks
Ravines
Mud slide/rock slide

In Society:

Doors
Doorways/entrances
Fences
Gates
Guardrails
Walls
Counters
Buildings
Roadways
Property lines
Backyards
City parkland
Personal space
Recreational areas
Traffic jams
Railway crossings
Fenced enclosures
Caution tape
Road sign barriers
Baby gates
Curbs
Crosswalks
Parking space lines
Cattle guard
Privacy curtain
Shower curtain
Protective netting
Concrete barrier
Farm fences
Stalls
Strung rope or wire
Restricted airspace
Military/police presence
Castle/fortified walls
Portcullis
Drawbridge
Protected parks and designated areas
Border/Customs between countries
Great wall of China
Prison walls
Bouncers
Cover charges/fees
Permits/licences/paperwork
Police tape
Cubicles


*Barriers can also be economic, educational, physical health restraints, mental limitations (fears, phobias) and popularity (money, degrees, handicap, memberships, notoriety)

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Borders/Barriers. Some are more powerful than others. A concrete barrier wall is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, the presence of a baby gate in a home might not foreshadow a border/barrier on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

14 comments:

Joanna St. James said...

excellent list as always, is it weird that when i saw Borders I immediately thought bookstore?

Saumya said...

These are incredible! I do not know what I would do without your thesaurus. Wow.

Matthew Rush said...

I used to have a cubicle. Now I miss it.

Just kidding. Great work as usual Angela!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Brilliant, Angela - as always! I can't wait to share it with my students. :-)

Heather said...

This is excellent! Things to throw in my character's way. Thank you!

Carol Riggs said...

I love using symbolism! Never thought about all these types of barriers, small and large. Thanks for the "food" for thought!

The Golden Eagle said...

Great advice on what might count as a barrier.

Julie Musil said...

What great images! Thanks for the amazing tips.

Beth said...

How do you come up with such great ideas, Angela? Once again you've given me some terrific concepts to mull over!

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone! My internet was down today, so a nice welcome to get all these comments once I got back online. :)

Elaine AM Smith said...

I'm glad you are back.
The list was thought provoking and in-keeping with the sleeping arrangements I've been planning for my MG set in a prep-boarding school :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I WANT to put some symbolism in my new wip. Hmmm. What to use? What to use? :)

Great post as always. :D

Laura Pauling said...

Thanks Angela! I love when symbolism pops up naturally and I didn't plan it. :)

Paul C said...

This is another helpful list of possibilities for symbolic encounters.

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