nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘symbolism

Meniscus: Crossing The Churn – alien insects

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It won’t be long and we will be plagued by mosquitos and blackflies here in New Brunswick.

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On the planet Meniscus, the setting for my sci-fi series, there are no mosquitos and no blackflies. Life there is hard enough!

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However, I have populated the Meniscus woodlands with elginards. These are small wingless insects that drift on the breezes. As the book says, they are “… purposeless, ephemeral …”.

The inspiration for these creatures is the wooly aphid. In the late autumn days in New Brunswick, wooly aphids float like flakes of snow on the air.

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Elginards also remind me of dandelion fluff.  The elginard in my book is a symbol for a purposeless life, lived at the whim of circumstance.

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To read more about elginards, have a look at my book ‘Meniscus: Crossing The Churn’ … available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats …

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XPPNCGF/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 14, 2017 at 7:37 am

writing a novel – objects and symbols

with 6 comments

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Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat, including an abandoned church

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom; people from the community

Plot: the story of how Sadie tries to win over a community in order to preserve an abandoned church

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If you are new to following my Blog, you may not know I have been writing a novel since last November.  If you have followed my Blog for some time, you may be wondering if I have abandoned my novel for the world of watercolor painting – not so.

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abandoned church near Knowlesville, New Brunswick

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I am on Draft Six.  I have taken the comments of my readers and members of my writing groups to heart, considered them carefully and made many revisions in the Fifth and Sixth Drafts.  I have also paid careful attention to three workshops I attended on writing fiction.

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One of these workshops was exceptionally thought provoking, teaching me to look at elements of my book in a new way.

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Our instructor at this course suggested we pay particular attention to the objects mentioned in our writing.  Mentioned once, an object, such as a table, is just a table.  Mentioned twice, it becomes a symbol, and the reader remembers the first mention of the object and draws understanding from the symbolism.    So a table may be remembered for the people siting at it and the subject of their conversation.  Perhaps it becomes a symbol for family, for example.  If, in the second mention, someone breaks the table by putting too much weight on it, this may make a comment on the idea of family in the story.  By breaking the table, the family may be damaged or broken.  The use of symbols deepens meanings and helps the plot reverberate throughout the writing.

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The instructor also said that symbols operate like mini sub-plots throughout the story.  These mini-plots echo the main plot, and the objects change in a way that illuminates the main plot.  The mini-plots also tend to occur in three ‘beats’, providing a beginning, middle and end.  For example, the table is bought at an auction, broken and finally mended.

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In this round of edits, I have tried to examine the use of symbols in my novel.  To do this, I built a list of the objects I have used as symbols.  Then I looked for their occurrence in the novel to see if I could identify three ‘beats’ and a mini sub-plot.  In some cases, I identified gaps – fixing these has helped me to solidify my overall plot and improve the understanding of my readers.

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lych gate and rock wall, Hampton

a lych gate is one of the objects I use as a symbol in my novel

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This is a short version of my list of some of the objects/symbols in my book.  When I assembled the list, the items in red were missing and I had to fill out the story accordingly.  Perhaps you can use this method to help strengthen the narrative in your own fiction.

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Object Symbolism Occurrence   (Chapter Numbers) Mini-plot
long bench togetherness 11 21 23 bench moves from private to communal space; people start working together
stained glass relationship between sacred and   secular 1 9 23 stained glass window breaks and is repurposed; the sacred becomes the secular
lych gate death 1 9 20 lych gate falls into decay; fear of death is no longer the driving factor in a family
red shoes respect 1 9 21 community’s view of main character is altered
minister’s collar mentorship 1 15 21 although he leaves the church, a minister grows as mentor to a family and the community
blue plastic truck secular within the sacred 3 11 21 a plastic toy becomes an object worthy of protection; the secular becomes the sacred
Jasper the dog companionship 8 16 19 a new dog helps build a family
air fern in a swan vase ability to change (a sea-creature   poses as a fern) 3 8 23 something unwanted becomes valuable

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Jasper the dog was a late addition to my novel, but he opened up so many story possibilities, I’m glad he came to be one of the characters

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Each time I add something new to the narrative, I have to make other edits in consequence.  However, I find these changes are worth the effort since they contribute to building the story.

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Have you considered the use of objects as symbols in your writing?

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Copyright  2013  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 3, 2013 at 7:13 am

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