All posts tagged: symbolism in fiction

Helen Phillips on THE NEED: how she couldn’t have written this speculative fiction if she wasn’t a mother, reconciling love and loss, a fabulous reading list, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  Eerie, speculative fiction with a slight thriller aspect, THE NEED is existential, mind-bending, and gloriously rendered.  I have a very teetering TBR bookshelf at home and on it are several Helen Phillips novels. Her stories are wild and brilliant and a bit eccentric. That’s what I like about her work. It’s not the mundane. It’s like a fever dream, those little bits of oddities that keep us awake at night, but we don’t do anything more with because, well…we don’t know how. Or we think they’re ‘too minute’ to flesh out into a whole story. THE NEED (Simon & Schuster, July 2019) is clever and strange and distorted, but I loved it. You may read the first lines of the synopsis and see that Molly is a mother of young children and there’s an intruder in the house and automatically think this is domestic thriller. It’s not. THE NEED is a literary exploration of what it means to be a mother, but also a study in identity, empathy, fear, the joys and insecurities and also the miseries of motherhood. It’s gorgeously, lushly …

Write On, Wednesday: Injecting Symbolism, Part 3

By Leslie Lindsay The fiction writer knows that there is a lot that hinges on a good story. Some of these elements just happen in the prose, but some of them are more deliberate–but hopefully the reader doesn’t detect that. In fact, injecting symbolism into your work should be very organic and surprise you–the writer–as much as it does the reader and for that matter, the characters. No pressure, right? In carefully crafted and researched novels, symbolism just appears because well–it’s been ingrained through your research and comes through in terms of osmosis.   My little ghost girl, Evelyn brings with her a ragdoll from generations past. In my mind’s eye, I saw a small cloth doll created from scraps of fabric and wrapped in a maroon cloth. She has no face. Evelyn drags this prized possession around with her. She loses her, she deliberately places her in the view of her “chosen one,” in a look at me kind of way. And so I worked with her. The doll, the ghost girl. I let them …

Write On, Wednesday: Finding Symbolism in Your WIP

By Leslie Lindsay One hundred years ago, in 1914, a bird cheekily known as Martha (after the first First Lady, Martha Washington) died in a Cincinnati zoo. Did she die lonely and broken-hearted? Well, yes. And for good reason: she was the last remaining bird of a species that declined from several billion to one in a mere 50 years. Hunt of a flock, depicted in 1875 And what, you wonder does this have to do with writing?! Bear with me. We’ll get there. It is reported these birds–passenger pigeons–darkened the sky for hours or even days at a time, “The beats of their wings would create drafts that chilled the people over whom they flew.” See where I’m going with this? They’re creepy. And they just happen to appear in my WIP. Not intentionally, mind you but sort of by accident. This, I am finding is the absolute best way to incorporate symbolism into one’s work. I’ve never been a fan of birds (sorry, Audubon Society). Ever since I learned birds may have an evolutionary …