HOW TO RID OUR NOVELS OF SENSELESS SYMBOLS
We learned in school that we should analyze a work to find the hidden themes and symbols, etc. It was not uncommon to pull out our magnifying glasses as we inspected the literary works for their motifs.
What this has done to many writers is that it has compelled them to install these mechanical devices into their own works in an attempt to generate deeper levels of meaning. It sounds like a great idea, right? And in our modern times, no one wants to be thought of as superficial. Being superficial is the new “idiot,” as far as I’m concerned.
The trouble with these literary devices is that writers will create symbols that mean nothing to the characters. When we think of the Red “A” embroidered on Pearl’s chest from The Scarlet Letter, we know immediately what that means. But more importantly, the characters within the story know what that “A” means .
Whenever we are using symbols within our stories that mean nothing to the characters, it’s like inserting an iPhone into a novel written during the First World War. It doesn’t fit, and it’s forced.
Whatever we write has to be as the characters experience it. Inputting random motifs and themes, simply because we feel that it gives our novel personality, is unnecessary. Should we use symbols? Absolutely, if your novel calls for it! Will there be themes that are lodged within our story? Yes! But these symbols and themes all fit within the story itself. They aren’t weird like two-headed snakes.