Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: A Quest for Knowledge

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 forest pathway
Sunrises, sunsets
The moon
A starry sky
Old, established trees
The level stare of an animal, unafraid
The owl
A wolf
An apple
Aboriginal/indigenous tribes

In Society:

A lab coat
A policeman's notebook
Exam rooms
Study groups
A light bulb
A question mark
Albert Einstein
Tour Groups
A Key
Puzzle pieces
Mayan Temples
The human eye
Flow charts, graphs, etc
Human brain
Medical chart
A telescope
A microscope
People taking notes
Lecture hall
A chess board

SEE ALSO: Knowledge (We love learning so much we did this one twice!)

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with A Quest for Knowledge. Some are more powerful than others. Walking past a silent exam room filled with students bent over their papers is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a key lying out on the desk may not foreshadow a quest for knowledge on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.
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Bish Denham said...

Wonderful. I immediately thought of the grail.

K.Hinny said...

Thanks for the advice Angela! This is a strong message in it's own right!

I'm going to keep it in mind!

Happy writing

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love your symbolism thesaurus.

I use symbolism in my novel, but I had the animal in mind first that I wanted to use (it worked with the story) and looked up what it symbolized. Fortunately it was perfect for the story. Whew!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Where are you coming up with your symbolism topics? My favorite thing about this series, so far, is that you've chosen such cool and surprising topics! :-)

Danyelle said...

I love your lists! And great point on choosing to use a strong or more subtle symbol. :D

Kirsten Lesko said...

This one really helps me because I have so much trouble getting creative with symbolism. I'm on my final rewrite with my novel & am trying to weave in some more symbols now that I know the direction everyone takes. Thanks for this!

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent entry today! Thanks.

Mary Witzl said...

I REALLY like the idea of a classroom of students, quietly absorbing knowledge...

Angela said...

Bish--that's a great one. Actually, the Bible would be too.

K.Hinny, thanks for stopping in!

Hi Stina, I think often our symbolism comes up naturally and we don't realize it until we finish the novel. But I think we can always beef description up and make it even more meaningful, so hopefully this helps!

Shannon, my brain is a scary place. You don't even want to know half of what goes on in there.

Danyelle, mucho thanks!

Kirsten, YAY! So glad this helps!!

Elana, thanks!

Mary, I knew you'd approve!

Kara said...

I just found your blog and I love it! Emotions and color symbolism are both a huge part of my wip and your thesauruses will help me immensely. I want to print out every page so I can reference them when I'm writing without an internet connection. Thank you!

Laura Pauling said...

So, I should put a big picture of a Mayan temple above my computer? :) Great list, thanks.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have an awesome award for you at my blog today, Angela! :-)

Have a great weekend.


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