#WritingAdviceWednesday – Objects as Symbols
Writing Advice Wednesday
When I am stuck writing a project I like to use this exercise to get me thinking about my character and story in a different way.
I look around and collect a variety of ordinary objects: These can be such things as an ordinary dinner fork, a ceramic figurine, a pair of shoes, a key, a hat, a hammer or any other household or personal object.
Put all the objects in a box. Without looking, pull one of the objects out. Imagine this object is incredibly precious to you. Write about the object as quickly as you can. Imagine its personal value to you is beyond price. Describe why.
Here are some questions to start you off: Was the object a gift? Was it a hard-won trophy? Was it the only thing left behind by someone you loved? Has it played some significant role in your life? Is it a reminder of an important first experience? It is it a reminder of a terrible tragedy or a cautionary tale? Is the object standing in for someone or something else that was lost? Is it something you traded for something else?
Write about the imaginary personal value of the object. Next, imagine that you decide to give the object to another person. Under what circumstances would you part with this most precious object? What would you be telling the person by giving the object to them? How might they react? What would giving the object to the person mean?
Write about the deeper significance of this imaginary gift. Alternatively, imagine you decide to throw the object away. Under what circumstances would you toss it out or destroy it? How would you do this? What would that action mean symbolically? What would you be saying about yourself or your future by leaving the item behind? What impact would this action have on you?
Next, imagine that you decide to give the object to another person. Under what circumstances would you part with this most precious object? What would you be telling the person by giving the object to them? How might they react? What would giving the object to the person mean? Write about the deeper significance of this imaginary gift.
A good way to show emotions is through objects. What object has a deep significance for your main character? What does that object say about your character? What might happen to that object over the course of your story? What might the object signify? How might your character’s feelings change about the object? How might the character express their emotions through the object’s use or physical presence? How might your character communicate to others by discarding, giving away or destroying the object? How can you use objects to externalize what your character’s thinking and feeling?
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