Maximize psychological undertones and overtones in your writing to make a more powerful story!
Words are magic. Powerful magic. Often imbued with symbolic meaning—overtones, undertones, nuance, subtext, connotation, and feelings—deep within our collective consciousness. Meanings we respond to on a visceral level.
If an author writes, “the blood-red velvet drapes concealed the dirt-encrusted window,” the words blood, velvet, concealed, and dirt-encrusted convey more than just descriptive detail.
- Blood has a myriad of connotations.
- Velvet suggests luxury, and/or wealth.
- The word conceal implies something all together different than if the word covered had been used.
- Dirt-encrusted may imply a multiple meanings; slovenliness, or how the author or characters view the world.
The short description is a clue, one providing thematic, foreshadowing, context, plot, and characterization beyond the superficial.
Does this mean you have to write that way? Of course not!
Does that mean you have to read that way? Aw, heck no.
TIP: Never get hung up the “this means that” school of thought. The magic of writing is the way the writer creates an image or feeling.
So first up! The magic of setting!
It’s more than location.
Setting is a powerful tool for creating themes, mood, tone, conflict, and social commentary. Setting may influence, shape, and emphasize a character’s actions and ideas.
Setting can be:
- political ~ actually a lot of writing contains politics, especially those with themes of injustice, prejudice, and war
- time frame ( minutes, hours, days, years, centuries )
- historical ~ my pet peeve is an author who disregards the historical mores of the time
- socio-economic ~ wealthy, poor, middle class. ( Billion romance is BIG right now.)
- cultural ~ agents/editors are always on the lookout for works by under-represented authors telling stories about marginalized peoples
- constructed/ alternate /parallel/imaginary
- dream ( think Inception)
- virtual ( think Tron )
Setting may refer to:
- a physical place
Can all these different types of settings be symbolic? They can, if you want them to be. Or need them to be.
How many settings does your novel have? How important is it to your story, its conflicts, and your characters’s needs?
Dragon Lady has political, socio-economic, historical, cultural, physical, and geographical settings. Her greatest enemies and conflicts stem from the political milieu, poverty, cultural expectations, and the weather. These settings are as important as the characters and are integral to the story of her triumph.
Next week on Symbolism Magic ~ North, East, South, and West
Note: I’ve taught literary analysis for over 15 years. And nobody died of boredom….yet. I’ve also read and written my fair share of analytical papers about stuff that would bore the pants off anyone who wasn’t a literary professor.