Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Transformation & Change

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:

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Sunrise
Sunset
Butterflies
Caterpillars
Cocoons
Eggs hatching
Tadpoles
Seed pods
Dandelion fluff on the wind
Melting snow or ice
Seedlings
Birth
Death
Tides
Swans
Snake shedding its skin
Nature itself
Clouds
Chameleons
Dragonflies
Fire
Tornadoes
Climate change
Weather

In Society:

The Death Tarot card
Plastic Surgery
Masks
Costumes
Make up
Hair cut
Puberty
Wealth/status shift
Fame
Moving
Fads, trends
Mathematics
Economy
A row of school pictures
Slang
Attitudes
Stock Market
12 step programs
Education
Human growth cycle (height/weight changes)
Innovation & inventions
Genetic engineering
Illness/disease
Drug/alcohol use (altered physical/mental state)
Urban sprawl
Crime
Shape shifters (fantasy)
Phoenix (Fantasy)
The Greek letter Delta
Peace sign


These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Transformation & Change. Some are more powerful than others. A Butterfly's cocoon is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, Crime could stand for a number of different things and may not foreshadow Transformation & Change on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

21 comments:

Deb said...

Hey! Thanks (as _always_) this one is perfect for my current wip-so yes I will be a linking to it in my research section!

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful! Glad you got the phoenix is on the list.

Laura Pauling said...

I think this symbol has got to be the most used (that and death) because in every story characters change. Thanks!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great list as always. I could definitely use some of these in my wip. :D

Sharon Lippincott said...

Marvelous! I'm bookmarking this post. The process of deep reflection involved in selecting just the write description can enhance personal insight as well as convey a precise message and evoke the desired reader response.

PAMO said...

A timely post for me. I've been thinking about symbols and you've given me much to think about.

I also read your prior post about Japan. It's hard seeing the devastation.

Julie Musil said...

Love this list. You added transformations I didn't even think of. Thanks!

Angela Ackerman said...

Yes this is one that we all use a lot in our writing. :) Glad it's useful to everyone. :)

tracikenworth said...

There's always a great article to be found here!!

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss angela! wow more good stuff! my wip is mostly outdoors so now im gonna look for more outside stuff that could help with how my characters get changed.
...hugs from lenny

Karen Lange said...

What a great topic choice for the coming days of spring! Thanks as always, for such great stuff! :)

erica m. chapman said...

Oh, this is a really interesting one ;o) Thank you!!

nutschell said...

Hey Angela,
Thanks for dropping by my blog! I love this transformation post. The information here is so useful, I'm sure it will help transform my own writing. :P

Angela Ackerman said...

Yay, glad it helps! Have a great writing week!

Ange

Katie Ganshert said...

Wow! This is a great list!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Oh, this is as wonderful as always. I love your lists. Many thanks!

Leslie Rose said...

Oh Angela, thank you for inspiring the lesson on symbolism for my class tomorrow. My students will eat this up when I put it on our Smartboard.

Angela Ackerman said...

That's awesome! WOOT!

Dawn Simon said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing, Angela!

Christie Wright Wild said...

I think my favorites are the ones in nature. Thanks for breaking it down. Such great ideas, as always!

I have an award for you on my blog. Enjoy!

Sheila Deeth said...

Great list. What great idea resources. Thanks.

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