Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Deception

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:

Weather changes
Cloud cover
Sunlight (warms, creates growth but harmful UV)
Colorful yet Poisonous berries
Carnivorous plants (pleasing fragrance attracts prey)
Fog & mist
Montana vortex
Bermuda triangle
Poisonous mushrooms
Castor Beans (Ricin)
Unripe Ackee fruit (toxic)
Fruit pits (cyanide)
Uncooked bamboo shoots
Toxic flowers (Monkshood, Oleander, Angel trumpet)
Seasonal changes
Thin ice
Black ice
Invisible spores, rays, toxins
Depth of snow (gullies, crevasses hidden)
Creatures/insects that mimic (stick bugs, ant mimic spider, mimic octopus, etc)
Camouflage (hares turning white in the winter, chameleons, cuttlefish, etc)
Predators blending into their environment (wolves, owls, etc)

In Society:

Con men
Double lives/Aliases
Area 51
Faked paranormal phenomenon
Miracle cures/diets
Scam artists
Email scams
Undercover agents
Two-way mirrors
Make up
Cosmetic Surgery
Wealth = happiness
Virtual reality
Role playing games
Commercials, ads, promises
Fiction & movies
Mysteries & foreshadowing
Brand names = quality
Cheating on tests
Pyramid schemes
Insider trading
Broken promises/trust
Funhouse mirrors
Trap doors
Hidden passageways/rooms
Telling some one's secret
Codes & cyphers

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with DECEPTION. Some are more powerful than others. Telling a lie is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, the presence of a white-coated hare may not foreshadow Deception on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not sure how much I even use symbolism when writing.

Matthew Rush said...

That's interesting that you said Role Playing Games. I suppose a bit of deception is involved in any storytelling.

Jessie W. said...

Ah perfect timing thank you so much

Awsome post as always =)

tracikenworth said...

A powerful thing to work into you stories, and so worth it. More great ideas!!

Laura Pauling said...

I like this one. Great job, Angela!

E.J. Wesley said...

Always love these, Angela!

Angela Ackerman said...

Matt, with role playing, the player pretends to be something they are not--a character that does not exist. So in this sense it is deception, but more of an internal one--we deceive ourselves, investing in a life that is not our own for the sake of entertainment. Some people can get quite involved in RPG (WOW, anyone?) and take it very seriously (too seriously, sometimes). In some ways, deceiving ourselves is the ultimate deception!

Thanks everyone for the comments!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Great one this time! As I write my novel, I realize more and more how deceptive writing can be. I wanted a few clues in there early on that things are not exactly as they seem, nothing too overt to spoil the surprise. This serves as a nice refresher on deceit. Thank you as always.
Funny Stuff I Write

Lisa Gail Green said...

Ha! Another great one. Because isn't there always some form of deception going on? Some interesting items on the list too...

Bish Denham said...

I kept trying to think of something to add, but I couldn't! Nicely done.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great list!

How about black ice?

Or Two-way mirrors?

The Golden Eagle said...

Another great post!

Angela Ackerman said...

Oh good ones, Susanne! I'll add those. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Another great one for my Angela folder! :-)

C.R. Evers said...

awesome list and awesome pictures. I saw the lion! :0)

Beth said...

Thanks for the post.

Julie Musil said...

Great list. The berries reminds me of that scene in Hunger Games. Deceptively sweet!

Shopgirl said...

This is a great list, I especially enjoyed the nature's list so I'm tempted to try a few myself. How about:

Trap doors,

Beth said...

Great list. I always find the ones in nature intriguing, as they're a subtle way to reinforce the action in the story.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks shopgirl--I'll add those to the list!

Thanks everyone for the comments--glad this helps!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love it!!! This is definitely going to be helpful with my current wip. :D

~Sia McKye~ said...

I used symbolisms quite frequently to set or reinforce a scene, character action/reaction.

I hadn't read your blog before. Very interesting and informative. As the big guy says, "I'll be back."

Becca Puglisi said...

Nice job, Angela.

As a former EverQuest addict, er, player, I can see the deception in roleplaying--men disguised as female characters, kids trying to pass themselves off as adult, a rare few players relating more to their online personas than with their real selves.

Welcome, Sia! It's always nice to welcome a new visitor :).

Karen Lange said...

Great stuff! As always. Appreciate your efforts, Becca and Angela, so we don't have to think quite as hard. I owe you both some chocolate.
Happy weekend,


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