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2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse
10 YEAR anniversary!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

12 days of writing: symbols

Try twenty minutes to half an hour each day for some lovely, restful creative play with the 12 Days of Writing. If you've just joined in, start your story here. Each day, you get a new prompt to develop it further.


Get a fistful of felt-tip pens, or coloured pencils, or what-have-you (ballpoint will do too!), spread your notebook open at a fresh double-spread, and spend 10 minutes drawing all the objects already in your story. ("Objects" can include buildings, particular views, etc, and animals at a bit of a push. We don't need to get hung up on semantics.) Don't worry about the quality of the drawings! Flip back through everything you've already done to get more ideas.

Now look at your lovely selection of objects and pick one to represent your theme. Some tips:

  • don't go for the "obvious fit" - an unlikely combo can work much better and be more interesting
  • choose something that can recur naturally in the story - it's easier to weave in that way
Once you've got your symbol, spend about ten minutes mapping out your ideas / jotting possible scenes / writing snippets to answer these questions:
  • When did your protagonist first encounter the object? What did they think of it then?
  • How did it gain those associations / that meaning for your protagonist? What happened?
  • What happened when they next encountered it, once it already had those associations?
  • Do they ever do anything to it because of what it means, not because of its function? (eg hanging a blanket on a wall; deliberately breaking a perfectly good bowl; giving or throwing away a treasured token; et cetera)

Tomorrow we'll play with Subplots. If you want to share what you invent, tweet me @WritersGreenHse. I'd love to hear.

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