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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Development - Symbolism Question #2

27 September 2012, Development - Symbolism Question #2

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with

I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

Here are my rules of writing:

1. Entertain your readers.
2. Don't confuse your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.

I'm going to answer the following reader questions in the next few days. These questions have to do with symbols. I've listed the entire question set in blue, and I'll answer in black.

1. Is symbolism primarily (vs only) intended to enhance theme?

Answered 26 September

2. Is symbolism more (or less) effective than allusion?
An allusion is a figure of speech.  Figures of speech are a subset of symbolism.  A figure of speech is a type of symbol.

Let's look at the definition of a symbol:

1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. See Synonyms at sign.
The concept in art relating to symbols is symbolism. Its definition follows:
1. The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

Lets look at language as a symbol. Authors use language as the paintbrush of their art. Language itself is a symbol and is used to form symbols. One of the chief uses of language is called figures of speech. Here is the definition of a figure of speech:

A figure of speech is the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning. It can also be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, or personification. Figures of speech often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use, as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. A figure of speech is sometimes called a rhetorical figure or a locution.

An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. M. H. Abrams defined allusion as "a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage".  It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection (Fowler); where the connection is detailed in depth by the author, it is preferable to call it "a reference".  In the arts, a literary allusion puts the alluded text in a new context under which it assumes new meanings and denotations. It is not possible to predetermine the nature of all the new meanings and intertexual patterns that an allusion will generate. Literary allusion is closely related to parody and pastiche, which are also "text-linking" literary devices.

In a freer informal definition, allusion is a passing or casual reference, an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication: In the stock market he met his Waterloo.

The exact answer to the question is that they are the same, but I get the point of the question.  It is this:  is a symbol more effective than a symbol that points to a symbol.  An allusion is a symbol that points to a source for that symbol.  The logical answer is that a bare symbol is more effective than a symbol of a symbol.  Logic doesn't always hold sway in art.  Many times a pure symbol can be more effective because it conjures a picture that is unmistakable.  On the other hand an allusion can produce an even more powerful picture.  For example, the symbol of the cross is an unmistakable image.  The allusion "Surely this must be the/a son of God." is a powerful image on its own.  Or, the image of the soldiers gambling for the cloak of Christ.  Or, the image of the women at the empty tomb.  Allusions are powerful because they incorporate entire stories in a single picture, statement, etc.  Naked symbols, in this sense, are powerful because they do the same.  An author chooses carefully the appropriate symbols (including allusions) to use to clarify or to produce ambiguity.

I'll continue to answer the following questions tomorrow.

3. Do you have more detailed guidelines for it's employment & effectiveness?

4. Is symbolism considered a "text-linking" literary device, or not?

I'll move on to basic writing exercises and creativity in the near future.

The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques. To what extent do you outline the historic context, culture, mannerism, speech, dress and thought process of the main characters, in a historic order to maintain integrity, and gradually (help) reveal attributes of a character in the story, or otherwise clarify the plot, scene, transition, tension or resolution?

I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples:, and the individual novel websites:,,,, http://www.thefoxshonor

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