Tackling Symbolism and Foreshadowing…

Today’s episode of Mirror World News is all about how to use foreshadowing and symbolism in your writing. Adam Giles and I discuss…

Symbolism and Foreshadowing are two ways in which you can subtly provide information to your readers, or give them hints as to your theme, or plot, or characters, without coming right out and saying it. It’s a way of making your readers think and adding depth to your story.

Symbolism, specifically,  is using visual cues to convey meaning. Symbols are generally widely accepted as having universal meaning. Like, a white wedding dress symbolizes purity or a cross is the symbol for the christian religion.

Foreshadowing is a technique where you hint at something to come later by showing it early on in your story. So something that happens near the beginning of your story ends up having significance at the end, or was really a clue to the solution of the plot.

Symbols offer depth or meaning and can be used to hint at things, and foreshadowing is the subtle clues left for the reader to predict elements of the plot. Any time you use a common symbol to convey meaning, you’re using this technique, but books and movies have created symbols that have become universal ways of conveying information to the reader. For example, a character trying to act as a seductress will often wear red. If he or she wears white, it is usually to symbolize purity. Crossing water in a scene usually symbolizes a transition or a shift in thinking, just as the gifting of flowers usually means an apology.

Foreshadowing is trickier to give examples of, but if you start looking for it in books, tv, plays, and movies, you’ll start seeing it. Usually the first chapter, or scene, or episode will be a microcosm of what the whole plot is supposed to be. Or often something that seems meaningless early on in a story will be there for a reason, and that reason is to give a hint as to the end of the story. So if a character finds a knife out of place in the first scene, chances are it was used or will be used in the finale.

Chances are you’ll use both foreshadowing and symbolism without trying to.  With all the media we consume, most of us use and understand foreshadowing and symbolism on an instinctive level, but it does help to start recognizing it in other works and to become aware of how you can use it in your own writing. You don’t want your symbols or foreshadowing to be too obvious and sometimes it helps to flip symbols and subvert expectations.

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

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