Find that voice deep within you!

Date of Meet-Up 9th Feb

Topic Setup: What is the difference between using imagery and symbolism in writing? How do you use these literary devices effectively in your writing? How can you improve the quality of your writing through the use of imagery and symbolism?

Imagery & Symbolism in your Writing.

We started with a read of the article from titled, ‘Imagery vs Symbolism’. It started with a much-needed definition of imagery and symbolism.

Imagery refers to the use of figurative and descriptive language to create images in the mind of the reader. 


Symbolism refers to the use of symbols to represent ideas and qualities. 


The key distinction between the two is that imagery appeals to the senses and imagination whereas symbolism appeals to the intellect and emotion of the reader.

The article then goes on to break down the seven main types of imagery:

  1. Visual Imagery
  2. Auditory Imagery
  3. Olfactory Imagery
  4. Gustatory Imagery
  5. Tactile Imagery
  6. Kinesthetic Imagery
  7. Organic Imagery

I had remembered that the author Joanne Harris uses olfactory imagery heavily in her writing and most famously in her book ‘Chocolat’where she also used gustatory imagery to describe the heavenly smell and taste of the delicious chocolate her main protagonist made.

The two types of symbolism in literature were then covered;

  • Internal symbolisms which are contained within the story – an example was given of the mockingjay in The Hungar Games
  • Universal symbolisms are symbolism that are easier to understand becasue such symbolisms already exist in humna knowledge – an example given was that of the heart being a univeral symbol of love.

Overall a very good read and highly recommended in terms of getting a very clear understanding of the definitions and differences between imagery and symbolism.

Symbolism in your writing

Masterclass provided the next article as we moved onto talking specifically about using symbolism in your writing and how to do it correctly. Again the place to start is with a simple question, ‘What is Symbolism?’. The article defined it as:

Symbolism is a literary device wherein words, people, markings, locations, or abstract ideas represent something beyond their literal meaning. 


If you were toying with the use of symbolism in your story but questioned if you should or not, Masterclass summarised four reasons why you would use it in your writing:

  • Symbols help you show without telling
  • Symbols connect themes
  • Symbols add imagery
  • Symbols hint at darker meanings

The article also outlines four tips for using symbolism in your writing.

  • Begin with story and characters
  • Balance small-scale and large-scale symbolism
  • Don’t just use common symbols
  • Use symbolism to add emotional resonance

We then moved on to an unusual source for this topic, finding an article from The Balanced Careers titled, Symbolism in Writing. It listed five different types of symbolism and gives examples for each.

  • Metaphor
    • Subcategory of metaphor – personification
  • Simile
  • Allegory
  • Archetype
  • Myth

The remaining links that we did not manage to get through were:

What is Symbolism? Definition and Examples.

Deepening Your Novel with Imagery, Symbolism & Figurative Language

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