Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Coming of Age

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:

Blooming flowers
Well-rooted plants
New leaves
Sturdy saplings
Summer
Sun at noon
Gangly fauns grazing on their own, at a distance from adult deer
Baby birds leaving the nest
Mating, pairing off
Courtship
Young males (wolves, foxes, etc) leaving the pack or den
A small creek swelling into a river
Foothills giving way to mountains
The heat of the day
Ripe fruit and berries
The scent of fruit tree blossoms
Lush grasses

In Society:

Vegetables ready to be picked
Healthy plants/gardens
Children independently walking home from school
Holding hands
The first kiss
Puberty
A diary
Secrets kept from parents
Teenagers
Piercings
Learner's permit
Student drivers
High Schools
First dates/dating
School dances
Teen styles, trends, fashion
Current music
TV shows and movies targeting teenagers
iPods
Make up
Heart doodles
Young love
Babysitting others
Staying home alone
First time buying condoms
First taste of alcohol
Exposure to pot
Stealing cigarettes from a parent
Fantasizing about the opposite sex
Allowances
Braces
Sex

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Coming of Age. Some are more powerful than others. A bird leaving the nest is a strong symbol and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a secret kept from parents might not foreshadow A Coming of Age on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.
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13 comments:

Bish Denham said...

This is so perfect because it's spring! A lovely post.

Jana Hutcheson said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Susanne Drazic said...

Great post Angela. Thanks so much for sharing.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Coming of Age - great idea! Another brilliant post, Angela. :-)

Lisa_Gibson said...

You always have the most awesomely useful posts. You're blog is a must for writers. Coming of age is a great idea to post about.

Tara McClendon said...

Oh, I once read a passage detailed with lush descriptions of over-ripe vegetation. It was right on the balance of disgusting and intriguing. In dying their is a rebirth, and to move to a new age is to leave one behind.

beth said...

Great timing!

Paul C said...

I like the small creek swelling... Complementary images throughout...

Lisa and Laura said...

Very interesting...thanks for the reminder!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

ooh...enjoyed this thesaurus entry! thanks!

jeannie
The Character Therapist

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Thanks for this.

Jody Hedlund said...

I like the idea of being more intentional with each word we use, and really thinking about why we're describing something or picking that certain thing to highlight. Great thoughts!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I like "braces" as a detail to help the reader know it is a coming of age tale. I wanted braces so bad when I was a little kid. I thought that made you a teenager!

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