Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Family

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:

Ducks swimming with hatchings
Bear with cubs
Fox kits playing together
A group of geese foraging together
Birds building a nest
Wolf packs
Bird flocks
Animal herds
Otter pairs
Prairie Dog groups
Bat Colony
Ant hills
Wasp nest
Moth or fly swarms
School of fish
Whale pod

In Society:

The Family tree/Genealogy
The dinner table
Crests, Coat of Arms
A common last name
Family vacations
Camp outs
Yearly family photos/Christmas card
Birthday celebrations
Iconic holiday gatherings (Thanksgiving, Christmas)
"Home Sweet Home" sign
Family game night
Houses
Minivans
Weekend Barbecue
Picnics
'Family' fun centers (entertainment)
Family Rate (swimming pools, theme parks, etc)
A sense of community
Baby Strollers
Breastfeeding
Family violence
Feuding
Fighting over the past
Sibling rivalry
Parental embarrassment
Generation gaps
House rules/chores/allowance
Curfew
Child custody agreements
Visiting rights/shared custody


These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Family. Some are more powerful than others. A minivan packed for vacation is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a Birthday celebration may not foreshadow Family on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Is Your Blog Easy to Love?

A lot of people wonder how they can create a Breakout Blog that will help build platform and connect them to their audience. This series on Blogging Tips looks at ways to maximize blog performance so they can reach these goals.

Is Your Blog Easy to Love?

I'm talking about comment love, of course.

I'll keep this short and sweet. There are many, many blogs out there that people can visit, but they choose yours. Be good to them, yes?

Readers only have so much time. You want to make it easy for them to visit and interact at your blog. Unfortunately, you also need to protect them from spammers who place ads and worse in your comments.

In the past, this meant slowing things down for them and yourself. You enabled Blogger's word verification feature (nonsense captcha word) and maybe approved comments by hand, just in case. It was a small price to pay to keep that blubbery wave of ads from targeting your readers in the comment box, right?

Well, guess what? The Blogger Spam Filter changes all of that! It does all the heavy lifting for you, vetting your comments and sorting out the junk! 

We removed the captcha from our comments here at The Bookshelf Muse about a month ago to test how well this feature culled the spam. Day after day, the filter snagged questionable comments and successfully labelled them spam. All we do now is empty the filter once in a while, just like an email junk box.

Three words, people: BETTER THAN BACON. No more messing around with the nonsense word! No more approving comments unless you want to! Readers can comment, and then move on.

So please, spread the word about this feature. Word verification is a time suck. Think about it: how many blogs do you visit a day? A week? That's a lot of captchas to type out. If you use Blogger, give your readers back their time and remove word verification.

It seems like a small thing, but trust me, it's one of those little things that mean a lot. Your readers will appreciate it!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Middle School/Junior High Dance (informal)

Sight

Teens/preteens clustered in groups at the edge of the dance floor, some kids dancing wildly in the middle showing off moves & goofing off, scattered loners or pairs leaning against the walls, wanting to be part of the fun but too shy or unsure to move away from the sidelines, DJ with headphones, speakers, balloons, folded up basketball hoops, polished gym floor, girls touching their bangs, flipping their hair, pulling at tight clothes, touching jewelery as they scope out the boys, girls scurrying off to the bathroom in twos and threes or packing up to approach boys, lame decorations, dark lighting, a disco ball or lighting effects provided by the DJ, people hemming the DJ's booth, pleading for him to play a certain song, writing down song titles on a sheet for the play list, moving in and out of the gym to congregate in an area where snacks and drinks can be bought from a booth or canteen, boys talking with friends, acting aloof and watching the girls while pretending not to, teachers and parent chaperones leaning against gym walls, watchful & arms crossed, people flocking to the dance floor when a good song comes up, friends nudging friends toward a crush when a slow song plays, adults making passes through the washrooms to make sure there's no drug/alcohol use, a girlfriend with an arm around a crying, raccoon-eyed girl who was spurned or dumped, a slash of light cutting across the gym floor every time the door is opened to the bright hall beyond

Sounds

Loud music, deep base thumping off the walls, people shouting to be heard, laughter, feedback from a mike, the DJ making announcements, a crinkly chip bag, the hiss of a pop can tab popping, girls gossiping, teachers handing out verbal warnings, heavy gym doors banging shut, crying, yelling, swearing

Smells

Hairspray, too much perfume/cologne, hair products, scented lip gloss, sweat, BO, taco chip breath, possibly a skunky pot smell, stale cigarette smells & booze breath.

Tastes

Water/juice/pop/punch as provided by the school or canteen club, liquor snuck in, chips, chocolate bars, snacks or pizza as provided by the event coordinators, gum, mints, harsh smoke from cigarettes

Touch

Grabbing onto a friend's arm, jostling/bumping/nudging while dancing, toes stepped on, slinging arm around another's shoulders, holding hands, fingers nervously plucking at clothes, sweaty palms, fiddling with bracelets, pulling out a phone to text, hugging, arms around a warm waist during a slow dance, kissing, grabbing onto someone as a flirting method, dragging someone to the dance floor, stuffing hands into pockets, holding onto an icy drink, shouldering a bathroom door open, climbing onto a stage or speaker to clown around or draw attention to self, touching another's arm, collar or sleeve as a way to flirt, music vibrations felt through the floor in feet, laying a hand against a vibrating speaker

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

I peered out from behind a cluster of girls as Mark made his way over Clarissa and her friends. With the loud drum solo blasting out the speakers, he had to lean right up to her to deliver my message. He probably had to shout in her ear too, which I kind of felt bad about, but from the way she covered her face and bolted for the bathroom the minute he turned away, she obviously understood that I was breaking up with her.

Example 2:

Jim leaned past the snack counter to get a glimpse of the wall clock. Why did he volunteer for these things? The noise from the gym sounded more like screaming lobsters in a boiling pot than music, and the way the kids in line pushed and shoved, the last thing they needed was more sugar. He rubbed at his temples and then rang in another sale. Somewhere out there was a bottle of Advil with his name on it.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Kids bounced and bobbed in time with the music like fizz from a glass of pop.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Across the gym, Sara's gaze practically pinned me to the wall. She smoothed down the front of her short skirt and then started over, weaving past jerking bodies on the dance floor. I shoved my hands in my pockets, hoping it made me look bored, but inside my rock tumbler stomach chugged and lurched. Get a grip, Stupid. She's just a girl.

Change, Transitions & My Granny

First off, HOLY RUBBER COWS! Would you look at all the new followers? I know you can't see it, but I am waving enthusiastically from my side of the screen. Welcome to our corner of the net, and as always, thanks so much to all our Musers who mention us to writer friends and link to our blog. You are all Baconsauce, seriously.

As the title indicates, change is a'coming, people! In a few short weeks, Becca and I will be unveiling one (or possibly two?) NEW Thesaurus Collections. We hope you will find them as useful as all the other descriptive resources in the sidebar.

Speaking of Thesaurus Collections, so many of you have been avid readers and proponents of seeing the Emotion Thesaurus in book format, and we want you to know we're working hard on that. We appreciate all your support, and we hope you'll continue to recommend our site to others as in our case, platform will be key to obtaining a home for an enhanced, extended version of the Emotion Thesaurus.

And, also to do with change, I'm guest posting over at Robyn Lucas's blog on TRANSITIONS. I know they can be a struggle to master, but they are extremely important to both flow and the reader's connection to the story. So, if this is an area of growth for you, check it out!

Me, my bro & granny
Finally, I want to post a teensy bit about my granny. I don't often write about stuff not related to writing, but my grandmother recently passed away, and I want people to know how awesome she was. First off, she totally 'got' my strangeness. I mean sure, she'd shake her head and tut at a lot of stuff I'd do. Like when I stuck a plastic spider to the honey on the spoon in my aunt's coffee cup for instance. Or when I'd ask her on the phone if she's been keeping herself out of jail. Or if I purposely said the word 'fart' instead of 'fluff' (she was a fluff kind of grandma--good and proper). I'll miss her smiling and shaking her head, saying, Oh, Angela, Angela, Angela.

Growing up, my grandma loved to cook for us. On the farm, she'd bring us jugs of Koolaid as we picked roots in the fields, and on visits to her house, we wouldn't even have a chance to sit down before a parade of cookies, squares, cheese and crackers, sandwiches and jello w/bananas graced the table. We learned to never eat before coming, because you just couldn't say no to her, lol. She'd just tell us, "Go on, don't be afraid to eat!" She was a card player too, and rummy was her game. Not that she ever won much...she was too busy making sure us grand kids had every opportunity to lay down the final card.

So that's a bit about my granny, a special lady. She taught me a lot about living and loving life. I just wanted to share a piece of her so you'd know her a little too. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Depression

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:
Fog
Gray skies
Drizzling rain
Heavy, low-hanging clouds
Stagnant water
Drooping flowers
Sodden, weighed-down grass
Fallow land
A stunted tree
A heavy stone
A pit or hole
Tears

In Society:
A bed
Insomnia
Medication/Drugs
Lethargy
Isolation
Volatility
Black or gray
Silhouettes (devoid of color, lacking substance)
Stringy hair
Unwashed body
Dragging steps
Weight loss or weight gain
A fading light
A narrowing path
Suicide
A boarded up house


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

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Birthday Party

Sight
Balloons, streamers, party hats, confetti, brightly-wrapped presents, envelopes, gift bags, theme-based paper products and table cloths, banners, birthday cake, cookies and brownies, a bounce house, water/sprinkler toys (for an outdoor party), party games, doors standing open, kids running in and out, scattered toys, light shining from the TV in the background, kids dancing, parents supervising/chatting/drinking/eating, crumpled wrapping paper and open boxes, bows stuck to someone's head or clothing, an overflowing garbage can, kitchen counters cluttered with paper goods/food and drink/serving utensils, spatters of water around the drink cooler, half-drunk juice boxes or water bottles, melting ice cream, sweaty handprints on glass doors

Sounds
Doorbell ringing, kids laughing/yelling, parents talking, doors slamming, pounding feet, shrill noisemakers and whistles, blaring music, TV noise, shrieks from outside, kids arguing over toys/games, voices singing Happy Birthday To You, candles being blown out, people talking with their mouths full, scrape of plastic forks on paper plates, exclamations as presents are opened, tearing paper, electronic toy noises, competing voices during a party game, balloons popping, kids crying/protesting at departure time

Smells
Cake and cookies baking, just-cleaned floors, scented candles or air freshener, other specific house smells (cigarette smoke, dog or cat, potpourri, etc.), sweaty children, coffee, a match being struck, extinguished candles

Tastes
Sweet icing, moist or dry birthday cake, other desserts, salty chips, candy from gift bags, ice cream, waxy drink cups, juice, water, soda, coffee, plastic taste when you lick the icing from inedible cake toppers

Touch
Breeze from open door and windows, cold blast of the a/c or heat from heater, hard plastic dishware, a cake server sinking into an untouched cake, sticky icing, cool drinks, cake crumbs, soft melting ice cream, rubbery balloons, scattered paper feel of confetti, the too-tight elastic party hat band around your neck, a party hat crookedly-balanced on your head, glossy feel of wrapping paper, wet melting ice around the drinks cooler, the contraction of a juice box as you drink through the straw, condensation on a water bottle, water droplets hitting your knees

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Lightning forked the sky, sending wet kids scrambling out of the pool and into the house. Thunder boomed and the girls screamed, throwing water every which way. The streamers sagged. Crumpled tissue paper turned to a sodden, toilet-papery mess. Water pooled in half-a-dozen places on my hard-wood floor. I racked my brain for a way to salvage Annie's party while she stared into the lowering sky, her palms pressed to the window. A single drop of water trickled from each hand and ran down the glass like tears.

Example 2:

      "Happy birthday to you…" Enter Mom with the quintessential birthday confection. A single candle flame wavers in her excited exhalations.
      "Happy birthday to you…" Grandma fiddles with the camera, ready to eternally preserve a picture of Baby with his very first cake.
      "Happy birthday, dear Baby…" Mom sets the platter on the table in front of Baby and backs away, out of the shot.
      "Happy birthday to—"
      "Cake!" Sister grabs two enormous fistfuls of icing. The wounded cake teeters on the table's edge before falling to the floor with a memorable splat.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)
The party had been perfect, like something from the Hallmark Channel.

Example 2: (Metaphor)
Janice surveyed the damage and wondered if she'd just hosted a birthday party or a Mardi Gras parade.

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.

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.

Heavy Heart

Waking up on a day like today, it's hard to be a blogger. Through the online writing community and this blog in particular, I have made so many wonderful connections to people all over the world, including Japan. It's devastating to watch the footage of Tsunami waves hitting the coast, wiping out homes and lives. I feel powerless living so far from it all, knowing that even more destruction is still to come as the waves spread to other coast lines.

My prayers go out to all nations affected by this, and I urge everyone in a position to offer financial support to think about donating to organizations best suited to help with the destructive aftermath. It's early yet, and I suspect throughout the course of the day there will be more concrete avenues to donate to, but keep an eye on this page and links:

Red Cross information

Symbolism Entry: 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:
An owl
A serpent
The human brain
Neurons firing



In Society:
A library
A book
A teacher/professor/tutor
Parchment/Scroll
Ink and paper
An alphabet
Words on a page
School
A diploma
Graduation cap
IQ
An exam
Albert Einstein
Athena
The Sciences
Curiosity
Greek philosophers
Logic
A match being lit
A light bulb coming on
Truth
A journey that never ends

SEE ALSO: A Quest For Knowledge (we loved knowledge so much we did it twice!)

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

Embrace the Weird WINNERS!


Wow, guys, seriously--those are some messed up search strings!

I howled at reading some of them, like " cannibal cantaloupe with sinus infections" and "belly button fuzz removal spectacles testicles". Oh, and "muse pervert shower writer"? Jami, that one is just too awesome for words.

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. Thanks everyone for embracing the weird and sharing your search strings! By random generator, the winners are:


Sharonj

Marisa Hopkins

Lynn Dean 

Winners can send me their first page once it's ready, via attachment, to my email here. Please format in 12 pt times new roman, double spaced, with a title and genre on the page. 

Hope everyone is having a stellar, and perhaps slightly weird, week! Strange is what makes the world go round :)

Embrace the Weird: The Amazing Two Hour Contest!

Okay, sometimes something so weird happens that it requires a response. Today is such a day.

It all started after I got home from shaking my fat at the gym and I decided to take a quick look at blogger's stat page. 

As always, my gaze drifted down to the search terms that brought people to my blog. I enjoy looking through these, because every once in a while I see something that sparks a story idea or characterization component.

Today, there was the usual: Description of a Forest, Emotion Thesaurus, my name...and then I found this:

breezes of bile chicken poop and urine passed by me janice

*blinks* Says what?

I read it again, wondering if maybe I should have eaten breakfast before going to the gym, but no, it remains the same.

Imagine me (ME!) sitting in shocked silence. I do a mental scroll of posts. Breezes of Bile? Bird Poop? Urine passing me by? Nope, pretty sure I didn't post these things. And why in the name of Zombies is someone looking for this word string in google?

I have no answers, people. It might very well remain one of Life's Little Mysteries.

So, rather than walk about in a stupor for the rest of the day wondering how this search string led to The Bookshelf Muse, I choose to embrace and celebrate it! Because let's face it, they were looking for bile breezes and bird poop, and instead they found this place and have become one of our valued Muser Visitors, the bestest folks in the world!

And how do we usually celebrate here at The Bookshelf Muse?


ANNOUNCING THE AMAZING 2 HOUR CONTEST!

How to enter:

Embrace the weird! Post in the comments the strangest search string you've found in any of your stats, OR, post the strangest thing you've ever searched for in Google.

3 Musers will win a 1st page crit by me (Becca's enjoying a 13 hour road trip with her kids (both under age 3) and is probably a little too twitchy-eyed to critique.)

You have two hours--let's see what you've got!
. Keep it family friendly tho, yes? READY, SET, GO!

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. I'll announce winners ASAP--thanks for embracing the WEIRD!

No Apologies

I recently got a(nother) rejection for one of my manuscripts. I've really struggled with this one because of all my stories, it's the one that I feel is the most ready to hit the shelves. Yet it gets no love, and no feedback on why. I've picked the thing apart, looking for big picture items, recurring issues--anything to explain why it keeps getting rejected. And then it occurred to me. Maybe the manuscript itself isn't a problem. Maybe the problem is in my perception of my manuscript.

See, my story is a sweet historical fiction. Not edgy or dark.

Sweet.


I'm embarrassed to say that it took me more than a few tries to type that sentence. Why? Because while sweet is okay, it's ofted used interchangeably with saccharine, sugary, and bubble-gum, which are not. Because much of what's popular and successful today is dark and edgy, which my story most definitely is not.

But here's the bottom line: if I want to find the right agent and publisher for my story, I have to know who to target. In order to do that, I have to know exactly what kind of book I have. In order to do that, I have to be able to define my story objectively and honestly.

Moving forward, I will continue to look for agents who like historical fiction, specifically those who have recently acquired historical fiction projects. But I will also be looking at what kinds of stories they've acquired. If they're all dark, my story probably won't appeal to them.

So know thy story, fellow writers. Don't apologize for having written a sweet story, or one without vampires, or a western instead of a dystopian or an urban fantasy. Embrace your story and you'll have a much better chance of finding the perfect home for it.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Woods at Night

There is a forest entry already, but I think that at night the woods can be an entirely different setting, full of mystery and sometimes fear. I figured it deserved its own entry! Notice how other senses are utilized more so than sight--an unusual occurrence.

Sight

Dark tree trunks, shadows, overhanging limbs across the path seen at the last second, clumps of bushes, barely visible black trails snaking through the undergrowth, moon shining through a lattice of leaves, patchy sky & stars seen in glimpses through tree breaks, tall shadowed pines stretching up like arrows into the sky, streaks of cloud against the night sky, bulky rock outcroppings and tree stumps, barely visible, the glow of animal eyes, flower blooms shut tight in the darkness

Sounds

Wind slipping through leaves, cracking undergrowth with each step, creaking tree trunks, the flutter of wings unseen, snapping twigs, grass and weed sliding against pant legs, breathing sounds, coyote calls, fox yipping, wolves howling (if within location), snarls, padding feet along a trail, a grunt of pain at catching a root or tripping on dead fall, a rip of fabric as thorns catch at clothing, owl hoots, hunting birds swooping overhead, the cry of prey caught in talons or jaws, the trickle & burble of water flowing over rock in a nearby creek, startled small animals (rabbits, foxes, mice) rushing along the forest floor to a hiding place, the whine of mosquitoes

If near a city: white noise elements (the hum of electricity, traffic on nearby roads, music, voices, airplanes flying overhead)

Smells

Rich earth, rotting leaves, pine needles, fresh air, a slight scent of flowers, earthy fungus, tree sap, wild animal musk (if close), possibly the spray of a skunk (if around), green growing things (spring & summer), moss

Tastes

Sweat on lips, dryness in throat, sometimes a cold metallic tang if lots of stone is present

Touch

Cobwebs in face, cold, dewy leaves sliding across skin, slipping on wet leaves and mushrooms, tripping on bumpy roots, stones, dead fall, thorns scratching skin, scrapes and cuts on hands from falling in the dark, pine needles embedded in skin during fall, twisting and jerking at every unfamiliar sound, holding hands out to ward off unseen obstacles like tree branches, shouldering through branches & brambles, turning sideways to get through a narrow space without injury, wet dew soaking pant legs, turning ankle in a hole or on a patch of wet moss, twigs and burrs caught in shoes or boots, pitch making hands sticky, swiping at a sweaty face, back of the neck cold, clothing sticking to body, barking shins on rocks and stumps, tripping on vines and weeds crossing the path, fighting through undergrowth and it snags and catches on clothes, hand grazing the bumpy bark of a tree, cold sweat on face, disturbing a creature on the path or snake/spider/bug on on a branch and feeling it touch/race over shin or shoe, branches & leaves catching at hair, swiping at burrs stuck to clothing, a breeze chilling exposed skin, hands slapping at mosquitoes biting exposed flesh

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Devin dove behind a wide cedar trunk just off the trail. Heart slamming against his ribs, he gulped at the air, trying to slow his breathing enough to hear. Back in the shadows, branches thrashed and snapped as Valio growled sharp orders to his men. Sunset had finally drained out of the sky overhead, sheathing the woods in shadow. Devin pressed his face against the bark, the ridges biting into his skin, and tried to become one with the tree.

Example 2:

Cort's calves burned as he squatted among the brambles at the edge of the glade. The sky above darkened with each breath, signaling his wait would soon be over. A mosquito bit the back of his neck. He ignored it and flexed his fingers one last time before fitting an arrow to his bow. The small meadow was a buffet of new greenlings, and from the tracks he'd scouted earlier, any moment a buck would emerge from the shadows to feast.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Eileen worked her way along the narrow trail, leaves sliding across her bare forearms like wet tongues.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Halfway to the cabin I glanced up. Hemmed by treetops, glittering lights scattered across the night sky...my porthole to the universe.

Symbolism Entry: Health

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:
Redwoods
Big, leafy trees
Fruit-bearing trees
Lush green grass
Mineral springs
Running water
Rain
Fruits and vegetables
Organic foods
Whole foods
Fresh air

In Society:
Long life
Pink cheeks
Ideal body weight
Sparkling eyes
Smooth skin
White teeth
Strength
Youth
Chubby babies
Fertility
Yoga/exercise
A treadmill
An apple a day
Doctors
Caduceus (see picture)
A stethoscope
Vitamins
A heart
A pedometer
Bottled water
Vegetarians/Vegans

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with health. Some are more powerful than others. Fruits and vegetables are strong symbols, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a heart could stand for a number of different things and not foreshadow health on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

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