Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Violence

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:

Storms
Lightning
Earthquakes
Pack hunting
Fangs & claws
A snake's hiss or the rattle of its tail
Blood and feathers on grass
Torn up earth
Uprooted trees
Animal cries of pain or terror
Animals fighting over territory or dominance
The shriek of a bird of prey
A snarl or growl in the shadows
The tide during a storm
Tornadoes
Avalanches
Mudslides
Tidal wave/Tsunami
Fire
Tropical Storms
Animals fending off predators to protect young
A ransacked nest with broken or missing eggs
Claw marks and upturned earth around a burrow

In Society:

Violent crimes (murder, home invasion, rape, etc)
Escalating verbal abuse
Rioting
Broken windows & locks
Kicked in doors
Terrorism
Bombs/bombings
Car accidents
Physical/mental/emotional abuse
Hate crimes
Guns, knives, brass knuckles & other weapons
Gangs
Sporting event fights (hockey tussles, boxing, street fighters, cage matches, etc)
Cruelty to animals
Slaughter houses
War
Violent video games, movies
Criminals
Serial Killers
Mobsters
Hit men, assassins, loan shark 'muscle'
Modern Pirates, Sex Slavers, Human Trafficking
Torture
Fistfights, shoving, bullying
Black eyes, bruises, split lips
Prisons


These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Violence. Some are more powerful than others. A slaughterhouse is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a single uprooted tree may not foreshadow Violence on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

12 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Brilliant as always, Angela.

Donald Maass has a chapter on symbolism in his workbook. Once I get to that point in my revisions, I'm going to be hanging out here. That will be right after I'm hanging out here during the chapter on setting. ;)

tracikenworth said...

These will be of good use in my stories as mine tend to lead on the dark/edgy side!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yet again you offer up a useful tip that's got me thinking. *runs off to write* :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, this is a great subject! What would the rest of us do without you two brilliant ladies? Robyn Campbell and I were comparing notes on how many hours we each spent over here while writing our last stories! Seriously. LOL. :-)

Carol Riggs said...

I just love the symbolism stuff in novels, in reading them as well as writing them. It adds a whole new layer of meaning and depth to the work! Thanks for the usual great list. Have a great weekend!

Becca Puglisi said...

Brilliant, as always, Angela.

Jemi Fraser said...

Very nice - there really are so many images and thoughts that could foreshadow violence.

Beth said...

Great list. I especially love the examples you've given from nature. One or two of those could nicely compliment a violent scene.

C.R. Evers said...

another fabulous list. Great job guys!

Lisa Gail Green said...

Interesting choices. The blood and feathers on the ground really shook me. Maybe because I have a bird? Great list! And definitely a theme worth foreshadowing with symbolism.

Matthew Rush said...

It just never stops coming does it? Well done as usual, thanks Angela!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Great list! Your blog always inspires me. Thank you!!!

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