Thematic Devices: Show Us What You’ve Got!

This week we looked at metaphorical devices: symbols, motifs and allegory.  Let’s see if we can develop some symbolism for the one-liners we’ve got going:

1. Our human-rights-attorney story:  When the money runs out before the case against his transgender partner is over, a human rights lawyer joins a prestigious and wealthy law firm not knowing that the managing partner is the devil behind the lawsuit.  Our thematic premise is:

Standing up to those in power leads to self empowerment;
cowering to those in power leads to disempowerment.

Two objects I see in our premise are money and devil.

When writing, we could pay special attention to any plot situation that deals with money, especially where money is a source (and, therefore, a symbol…?) of empowerment or disempowerment.  As Mr. Spanbauer suggests, we could carefully describe how each character views money, exploring how money leads to both empowerment and disempowerment, thus elevating money beyond just ‘paper we exchange for goods and services’ into a symbol for both empowerment and disempowerment.

We could also play with a devil motif, describing things in terms of devilish characteristics.  We could describe our antagonist and things associated with the antagonist in this way, and we could also describe our hero in this way when our hero is displaying aspects of character that are like that of the devil, which would highlight how the protagonist and antagonist are clones.  We could maybe even contrast devilish descriptions with a variation on the motif: a few angelic descriptions.

2. Our diamond bullets story:  When his brother’s gang develops a diamond bullet that can penetrate bulletproof vests, a scholarship student must decide whether to help his brother avenge the death of their gang-leader father or protect the father of his girlfriend, the Police Commissioner of New York City. Our thematic premise is:

Acceptance leads to family;
Revenge leads to loss of family.

Here we’ve got the objects: diamonds, bullets, bullet-proof vests, and scholarships.

As we mentioned last week, the scholarship is a symbol of the upstanding nature of our main character.

Diamonds are the hardest known natural material, and a quick look at Wikipedia tells me that diamonds can be wet with water, which reminds me of the saying “blood is thicker than water,” referring to families.  Diamonds could therefore represent families, how they’re strong and tough, both in good ways and not so good ways.

Bullets project and penetrate.  They force themselves, which makes me think of forcing a bad situation to continue, especially when it’s not your problem until you assert yourself into it.  This is what’s happening with revenge.  So we may be able to intertwine the emotions and seeming necessity of revenge with the various characteristics, parts, and types of bullets.

Well that’s it for me.  What about you?  See any symbols in our synopses and premises?  And what sort of symbols have you devised for your own stories?


New month, new tool category!  We’re moving on to Character.  Get excited and I’ll see you there!

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it, and please join the mailing list to receive updates about new tool posts. Thank you!


So... whadaya think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s