The Symbol of an Object
This is the twenty-first installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
Objects are excellent writing prompts. They keep us rooted in concrete details, yet are also evocative, containing the possibility for symbolizing something larger. In this week’s exercise, you will focus on an object you associate with a loved one, and play around with its metaphorical significance. Even though you’ll be brainstorming about a real person in your life, you will generate characterization as if you’re preparing to write a story with him/her as your character.
- Think of a dear loved one. Think of him as a character in his own life story.
- Choose one object that is important to her— something that could be her symbol. For instance, my grandmother collected the free porcelain figurines that came in the Rose Tea boxes. She kept them in a cigar box, taking them out only to bring her luck during Bingo games. What is an object you associate with your father? Mother? Best friend?
- List possible metaphors for that object. Think of possible abstract qualities it could represent, such as warmth, motherhood, or protection.
- Then think of other objects that could also represent those qualities. In other words, what other things could have held the same meaning in his/her life?
How did you do? Did you arrive at new interesting metaphors for the qualities that embody your loved one? Did this character work inspire you to use your loved one as a character in your writing? Or maybe it inspired you to create a new fictional character starting with an object?
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Szilagyi, Anca.“The Magic of Objects.” Ploughshares at Emerson College. http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-magic-of-objects/