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, often emotional level.


By artful use, the writer can amplify thematic, foreshadowing, context, plot, description, conflict, and characterization beyond the superficial.


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? NO, of course not!


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.


Click  ThThe Magic of Symbolism to download my free 28-page beginners guide. Or for a more in-depth look follow my blog On Writing.

Next post: Symbolic Settings

I love questions! Leave a comment here, tweet me at @AutumnBardot ( where you’ll get the quickest response), or hit me up on Goodreads! I’ve been teaching college-level literary analysis for 14 years, and enjoy helping new writers understand and incorporate all the tricks and techniques of the trade.