There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

If the Slipper Fits. The Power of Symbolism in Fantasy: Part II April 21, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:07 am
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Often, the greater themes of symbolism in fantasy are reserved for the hero or heroine in a story. Granted, I’m thankful the glass slipper fit Cinderella, else where would we be without the belief that faith/true love/kindness triumphs over the most evil of stepmothers?

But if the slipper represents these things, might it be possible that other characters can wear the slipper as well?

And by slipper, I mean any object or other symbolic idea integral to the story.

For example: The main theme in my novel, A Song In Winter, is rebirth. It’s what Winter represents, what my main character witnesses and experiences. Everything that happens in my novel—the battles, the transformations, the objects I use—spirals out from this idea and symbolizes rebirth.

Now, at one point in my story, I tried to make my love interest the prince of Winter, but unlike Cinderella’s slipper, it didn’t quite fit. I didn’t force the issue. Instead, I listened to my muse and gave my love interest a brother. And though the Prince is a secondary character, he turned out to be pretty important.

I wrote a scene, the events of which I didn’t initially intend, and the Prince received an item of great symbolic meaning (I can’t give too much away) in which the theme of my novel was reiterated. It was beautiful. If it had happened to my love interest it wouldn’t have worked and I would’ve deleted the scene. And then my story would’ve been lacking in some way. As it was, the power of that symbolic event gave my story strength.

Needless to say, I’m glad the slipper fit another character. And if you find the same thing happening in yours, trust your instincts, and let the power of symbolism work its magic.

Happy reading!



What’s in an Apple? The Power of Symbolism in Fantasy: Part I April 17, 2013

Ever wonder at the symbolism behind the poisoned apple in Snow White? Or in Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule? Did the authors choose the apple on purpose, aware of its significance, or was it coincidence? Whatever their intention, their use of it left a lasting impression on me.


Because the apple has influenced the world for centuries. Knowledge, protection, love, temptation; these are but a few representations. Literature and myths from nearly every culture are full of stories about this simple yet powerful fruit.

But what of other symbolic examples?

The harp for instance. People in ancient times believed it to be an instrument of truth, wisdom, and to communicate between realms. In Juliet Marillier’s Wolfskin, a harp is fashioned from the hair and bones of a slain man so he can “sing” the truth of his murder.

And let’s not forget names, animals, gemstones, trees—all of which represent different ideas. In Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels trilogy, the jewels denote the hierarchy of power. What about the White Tree of Gondor and the horses of Rohan in The Lord of The Rings? Or the ring itself? Epic symbolism there. Harry Potter is saturated with it.

Do our readers need to know the meanings behind our symbolic choices? No. The power is there regardless. It will weave itself into their hearts and minds, and stay with them long after they’ve read your book. And one day, if they happen to discover what a stone, a flower, or constellation symbolizes, they’ll remember it from your book. And mayhap they’ll want to read it again with this newfound knowledge.

And that’s a very good thing, yes?

Happy reading!