Monday, June 29, 2015

Tips on Creating Symbolism in Fiction by Jacqueline Seewald

Is symbolism needed in novels or short fiction?  I would say yes--if a writer wants his or her work to have quality and stand out.

Here are some tips on creating symbolism:

First, decide on an overall theme or idea that unites your work. It should connect setting, plot and characters in some significant way.

Second, recognize that a symbol is an image which is repeated. Consider it as an association cluster presented in many ways.

Religious writings are fraught with symbolism. Shakespeare used it effectively in his plays as did the early Greeks. In novels, the symbol can take a variety of forms. For example, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the first American symbolic novel, the author used the “A” as a symbol in many guises to emphasize the difficulties of overcoming the past, its institutions, and the values of family and society.

In Moby Dick, Melville also used symbolism in a varied manner. The great white whale is symbolic of numerous sociological ideas. Melville examines the nature of good and evil through images of light and dark. Ahab’s unyielding aloneness is emphasized by images of the heart and head.

In the twentieth century, writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald were masters of symbolism. Color imagery was often used. For example, in the bullfight in The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway uses the colors red and green to create a vivid, violent scene. The images symbolically connect to his theme of the manly or macho code of behavior which was what Hemingway considered most important in life.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald developed a theme he had earlier used in a short story entitled “Winter Dreams,” the love story of an American upper class girl and lower middle class young man—insider vs. outsider. Dexter Green is a romantic and his loss of Judy Jones causes him permanent pain because of the loss of his illusion of her more than the physical loss. She is a symbol of romance, just as Daisy is for Gatsby. In the novel the color green appears repeatedly and becomes a symbol for Daisy and all that she represents. For example, Gatsby looks longingly at the green light on Daisy’s dock across the water.

In Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, the image of the Brooklyn Bridge becomes a tragic symbol of the lack of communication and connection between two brothers. Living as I do not far from the George Washington Bridge, I can particularly appreciate this. There have been many suicides of people jumping to their death from the bridge. Yet although the bridge can be considered a symbol of death and failure to connect and misunderstanding, it can also be a symbol of life and hope. Not long ago, one Port Authority policeman was able to stop a jumper. On that very same day in September 2014, PA police helped to deliver a baby near the toll booths on the upper level of the bridge.

Contemporary authors often use symbolism. Consider Harry Potter’s scar—a symbol of his being the “chosen one”, as well as his ability to overcome evil. GalleyCat just discussed recent articles written by J.K. Rowling on the symbolism behind Dumbledore and Hagrid's names. Dan Brown even wrote a thriller entitled The Lost Symbol.

In my latest novel Dark Moon Rising, the moon symbolizes romance. However, the moon is also a symbol of night and darkness, fear and hate. Since this is a paranormal novel fraught with mystery, moon imagery and symbolism work well with the underlying theme.


In meaningful writing, symbolism adds depth and perspective to fiction and unites theme with plot, setting and characterization. The final tip: always consider the big picture. What image or images will work best to imply your underlying theme?

As a reader, are there meaningful symbols you recall in what you've read.
Writers, do you use symbolism in your work?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Honoring Fathers by Jacqueline Seewald

 Many countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June, though it is also celebrated widely on other days as well—in Germany, for example, on Ascension Day and in Italy St. Joseph’s Day. In some countries it’s a public holiday and in others it’s not.

In the United States, Father’s Day started more than a century ago.
In 1910, a Father's Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children after his wife died in childbirth. Credit for this holiday was also given to Grace Golden Clayton of Fairmount, West Virginia who suggested to the pastor of her church in 1908 that a service be held in honor of fathers. However, it was Dodd who campaigned nationally for the holiday.

Mother’s Day was accepted as a national holiday in 1914. It wasn’t until 1966 that President Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and set the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon signed the law making it permanent.

Father’s Day is a time to reflect on what our fathers have taught us about life. It’s also a day when we can honor them and show our appreciation for their love and devotion.

In literature, writers often deal with family matters in their work. For example, in my young adult novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, a teenager’s relationship with her step-father is one of the concerns. Family relationships serve as an important theme.

A poem I wrote took first place in the READER’S DIGEST Poetry Contest 2015 and was published both in print and online in the June issue. It is about the relationship of a young girl and her grandfather. You can read it at:

As a reader, do you recall any books in which a father was an important character? If you’re an author, do you feature fathers as significant characters in any of your writing? If so, please note your work.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cover Reveal: DARK MOON RISING by Jacqueline Seewald

My latest novel, DARK MOON RISING, will be published by Luminosity on July 24th (my birthday). Hopefully, that will bring the novel good luck in reviews. As of June 9th, the novel is available as a Kindle book on Amazon for pre-order. Eventually, it will be available in a print edition as well.
Why was this cover selected? First, let me say that much thought went into the creation of the cover. From the cover, readers know immediately that this novel is a romance between a man and a woman. Second, from the cover there is a suggestion of the paranormal. Third, it is clear the novel is intended for an adult readership. I particularly wanted that clear distinction because my recent YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is a “clean read” appropriate for teens as well as adults who might be offended by sensual romance. This YA novel, currently available in all e-book formats, has proven popular and earned a print edition which will soon be released.
 As readers, don’t you judge a book by its cover?  So it stands to reason that writers want to create an appealing cover that draws the eye.  Cover art can make or break the book. What kind of front cover grabs the reader’s attention? What kind of cover art should a book display?  A lot depends on the genre of the book itself. The cover should be appropriate to the type of book. Readers expect it. For example, writers of romance want to demonstrate that their novel is an irresistible love story. How to do this? For adult romance, the clinch or embrace is a familiar pose. Bare-chested men are popular as well. Dramatic raised lettering with flourishes is always in style. A basic question to ask: is the book going to be sold on the shelf of a bookstore or is it going to be available only online? Is the novel going to be a hardcover, trade, paperback or e-book?
 With hardcover fiction books, as with all others, the cover needs to fit the genre, be attractive, while the title should be easy to read and intriguing. Cover art needs to play fair with readers so that they don’t feel cheated when they select a book. Covers for adult gothic or paranormal romance are generally dark and boding in appearance, appropriate to that genre. Readers expect it.
Paperbacks need simplicity in covers. The artwork should also support the title and the genre. E-book covers shouldn’t be too fussy or busy either. The old saying “less is more” works best for a book cover that’s displayed online. A short title with a large, easily readable font and bright contrasting colors shows up well on the computer screen. Publishers want to avoid covers that are complicated and hard to read. Plain, simple graphics are preferable.
 What are your feelings regarding cover art? What draws or attracts you to a novel? What do you dislike or prefer not to see?