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How to add symbolism to your writing

Writing is an excellent way to entertain, communicate, and inform. But writing is also a great way to subtly share deep messages through symbolism.

But what are some do's and don'ts for creating symbolism in your writing? Good question, let's start with the don'ts.


Symbolism should be subtle. It shouldn't be loud and so in your face that it comes across as preachy. Even if you have a great message you want to convey, if it is so apparent, then people will feel like they are being pressured or brainwashed and resist your efforts.

Along these lines, try not to sound demeaning or condemning. Nobody likes to be guilt-tripped. And nobody likes to be told their way of thinking is wrong and that they are lesser of a person for thinking the way they do. Try not to posture ones opinion as more morale and the other as immoral.

Another thing that makes for not the most effective use of symbolism is being too confusing. A rule of thumb is that if you, the author, are confused, it is probably not the best use of symbolism. Sure someone may come up with something, but it takes away your genius if you don't know what messages you are trying to convey.


Stick to one or two themes. Having an overarching theme or message will make the symbolism more powerful, and more will appreciate it.

Continue to reference it in a subtle way. Always be looking in every scene for a way to tie back to the main theme or message. It could be something subtle that someone says; it could be a simple reoccurring object. It could be a color or a name.

Tie symbols to emotional moments. As humans we are most prone and attentive to scenes that contains strong emotions. Symbols are most effectively used and remembered during these times.

Despite whatever your religious beliefs may be, one of the best storytellers that used symbolism in the most effect way was Jesus and his parables. Jesus's parables were said so neutrally that it created a different message for anyone who heard it. That is the goal when creating a message and delivering it in story form. That is how you create a hidden meaning.

As always, good luck to you and your writing.



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