Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Crossroads/Choices

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 fork in the path
Multiple pathways or routes
Rivers: upstream, downstream
Choosing mates
Choosing a place to nest/burrow
Obstacles: rocks, fallen trees, etc in route
Looming foul weather
Direction: North, South, East, West
The presence of a rival
Danger in the animal kingdom (fight, or flight?)

In Society:

Intersections
Graduation
Peer Pressure
Truth or lie
Voting
Contemplating suicide
Breaking or upholding the law
Morals
Road trip routes
Menus
Post-secondary education or workforce
Marriage or singleness
Children or no children
Right or left
Sign posts
Railway crossings
Interstate off-ramps
Work/life balance
A crumbling relationship/marriage
Job hunting
Real Estate Market
A question mark
Destination boards at the airport/train station/etc.
Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"
Free will

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Crossroads/Choices. Some are more powerful than others. A fork in the path is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a menu might not foreshadow Crossroads/Choices on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

14 comments:

Lisa Gail Green said...

Nice one. Choices are such an important part of any character's journey. So this has to come into play at least minimally in all books.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks. This one was a tougher one to do, certainly yet probably one of the biggest used entries for symbolism. All our characters reach crossroads at some point, sometimes more than once!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Thanks (again!) for providing so much thought-provoking fodder. It's always a pleasure to read your posts. Ever considered putting all of this valuable info into a BOOK? (I'd buy it!)

PAMO said...

This is a fantastic list. I'm so glad you are talking about symbols because I need to incorporate them into my work. Very meaningful post for me. I'm grateful. Thank you!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Cool! I've never really thought about all the symbolism around us. Hopefully while I'm driving for hours and hours tomorrow, I'll see some symbolism in our nature filled adventure! :) Great post. I love finding out how my characters get around an obstacle or crossroads in their story. It's fun to see which path they choose.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Elaine AM Smith said...

The image of the cross roads or the points in the station yard is so emotive. When I see them in movies, I always know trouble lies waiting.

lbdiamond said...

Ooooh, I love this concept!!!!!

Great info, thanks!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, the irony of this post. ;)

I'm going to try using some of these in my WIP. :D

Laurie Muench said...

Thank you. Right now I am at that point in my novel where my MC must choose whether to follow what he has been raised to believe, or to go against his family and follow his conscious. Your post was perfectly timed ;)

doreen said...

Oh that just gave me so many ideas.
I want to thank you for stopping by my blog and following. I really appreciate your time.
I look forward to getting to know you:)

Kelly M. Olsen said...

Well, I have to tell you gals that I've had the greatest time (and an educational time, at that) looking around your blog. AMAZING! And...you are fellow Albertans. Red Deer, here. Love this blog. Did I already say "amazing"?

Becca Puglisi said...

Hi, Kelly! Actually, Angela is an Albertan. I live slightly farther south, in Florida :). Thanks for stopping by!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

LOVE this!!! :-)

Sheila Deeth said...

I like this site!

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