Symbolism by guest Stephanie Prichard

One of my favorite options of this blog is inviting guest bloggers to share their ideas on using the various elements or techniques in the craft of writing fiction. Today my guest is Stephanie Prichard who has  co-author a faith-filled novel with her husband Don. Not only does she share ideas on using symbolism to enhance the meanings within your novel, but also is an example of what it’s like to co-author a novel. If you have questions about co-authoring or other thoughts, please leave your comments below and Stephanie can answer them for you.  She is also doing a book giveaway so read more about that at the bottom.

And now thank you, Stephanie for sharing you thoughts on symbolism:

Why didn’t God just say, “My Son will become human and die for your sins so you can be eternally forgiven and reconciled to Me”? Why couch this simple (and amazing) message in symbolism for thousands of years?

I won’t raise my hand to indicate I qualify in any way to speak for God. Uh-uh, not this lady! But the answer is worthy of investigation, especially for us writers. God’s use of symbolism in both history and Scriptures says at the very least that symbolism carries impact. Let’s explore that and see how we can use symbolism to give our writing some wallop.

Simply put, symbolism uses something concrete to represent something abstract. Concrete as in objects, actions, places, names, events, character qualities. Abstract as in love (concrete=a heart, the color red), faith (concrete=a cross, sunshine), time (concrete=a clock), malice (concrete=a habitual gleeful cackle), happiness (concrete=a girl named Felicity).

A symbol must be used several times to establish it as having a double meaning (i.e., both concrete and abstract) and to place it in context for its meaning. For example, is a chain meant to represent “union” or “imprisonment”? The context should tell which one.

In the third chapter of Genesis, the symbol of the serpent as the Devil is immediately apparent. In the same chapter, however, God’s provision of animal skins being a symbol of sacrifice for sin takes a lot more development. As a writer, it’s usually best to reveal your symbol bit by bit rather than immediately force it on the reader. Slow and steady leads to a more enjoyable experience as the reader approaches that aha! moment of recognition.

Imbedding symbolism in your story deepens your message (or central theme) and gives it endurance. Deepens it because, well, one picture is worth a thousand words! John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” Grab a pen and list all the ideas that flow to your mind with that one image. Wow, wouldn’t we like that kind of enhancement with our story’s symbol!

A symbol also gives endurance to your story because readers are more likely to remember that symbol as the carrier of your message long after they put down your book. Especially if you’ve given the symbol an emotional connection. Think of how churches often use a cross to remind believers of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.

You can employ several symbols in your story, but one of them must be central and all the others supplemental to its message. Be sure the symbol is part of the climax of your story so it has maximum impact.

As an example of using a symbol in one’s novel, I will wave my hand this time to volunteer. In Stranded, the skeleton of a World War II Japanese soldier is found leaning against a trench that faces the ocean, a set of binoculars at his left hand. As the story progresses, the protagonist identifies with the skeleton. Just as the soldier was loyal to his country (he died in full dress uniform) but was forgotten by her, so Jake feels he has been loyal to God but abandoned by Him.

At the climax of the story, when Jake faces off against God and expresses his pain and anger, he wrenches off the soldier’s skull and hurls it up at the dome of heaven—at God. It is only then that he realizes the soldier was at the trench and looking out to sea because he still believed a ship would come for him. Jake, however, had no such trust in God, no willingness to wait on Him for the arrival of His good purposes.

The theme of Stranded is “God does not abandon His beloved.” When I find myself dismayed because I’m looking at circumstances instead of to God, I sometimes think of that soldier … and very carefully remove my hand from its skull.

What are some symbols you’ve  used in your writing, or that you remember from a book or movie?


Steph'sRoolsofGrammar-1Stephanie is an army brat who has lived in different countries around the world and loved it. When she married Don, she put down roots in Indianapolis, IN, to raise their family. Now that their nest is empty, she and Don have co-authored Stranded: A Novel, which debuted in October.


Back Cover Blurb:

StrandedFrontFAC72All Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers wants is to give his dying wife a last, romantic cruise to the Philippines. Unable to save her in a mass murder aboard ship, he washes ashore a jungle island, where he discovers three other survivors. Heartbroken that he failed to save his wife, he is determined not to fail these helpless castaways.

Federal prosecutor Eve Eriksson rescues a young girl and her elderly great-aunt from the same ship. They badly need Jake’s survival skills, but why is he so maddeningly careful? She needs to hurry home to nail a significant career trial. And, please, before Jake learns her secret that she’s responsible for his wife’s death.

Stranded: A Novel (digital copy) is available at

Sign up for their newsletter at 

Pins related to their novel are at 
Keep in contact via Facebook at
Books Giveaway
Stephanie will give away a free novel of her eBook from a drawing of those who leave comments or ask questions in the comment boxes below. Don’t miss the chance to win this novel.




Leave a comment
  1. Brenda Anderson October 31, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Love this, Steph! (And I’m pinning it.) You do apply symbolism very well! (Don’t enter me–I already have my copy.)

    • Stephanie Prichard October 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi, Brenda! Yes, you and I are symbol-freaks, aren’t we! 🙂

  2. Kathy Zink October 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    The juxtaposition of the symbolism of the skeleton facing the sea & Jake’s great unbelief in God’s goodness in your new book is incredibly poignant! I hope I get to read it sometime.

    The theme of your book is relatable to just about every human on the planet. Just about everyone will be hurt, devastated, lonely, disappointed, crushed sometime in their lives. Thanks for writing about the hard subjects! I like to read novels that make me laugh, but the ones that tackle the hard topics are the ones I find myself drawn to over and over.

    God bless you & make your writing career to flourish!

    • Stephanie Prichard October 31, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

      Hi, Kathy! God’s goodness and God’s sovereignty go hand in hand, but that reality, that TRUTH, is hard to swallow when pain is involved. And as you said, everyone hurts sometime–often many times! That’s when it’s hard to feel loved, easy to feel abandoned. The skeleton (they named him the Lone Soldier) was the perfect symbol for this difficult concept. Thanks for your kind and insightful comment! 🙂

  3. Mary Preston November 1, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    What a fascinating story this promises to be.

    • Stephanie Prichard November 1, 2014 at 7:47 am #

      Thanks, Mary. My editor says STRANDED is “non-genre” and that readers of every genre will enjoy it. Wow, wouldn’t that be great! I hope you will be one of them!

  4. Jackie Smith November 1, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Stephanie, I would love to read your book….it sounds fantastic! Enjoyed learning more about you today on Gail’s blog!
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

    • Stephanie Prichard November 1, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks, Jackie! Gail’s a sweetie to let me get a toe in the door!

  5. Stephanie Prichard November 1, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks, Jackie! Gail’s a sweetie to let me get a toe in the door!

  6. Lourdes Montes November 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    This book sounds really great, thoroughly enjoyed the interview.


  7. Stephanie Prichard November 1, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Glad you enjoyed it, Lourdes!

  8. Danielle Hanna November 2, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    Steph, I JUST finished reading my copy of your long-awaited novel. BRILLIANT! Oh-so-poignant. The kind of story that will stick to your ribs like python stew. 🙂 I’m tweeting the link to this post!

    • Stephanie Prichard November 2, 2014 at 6:52 am #

      Ha ha ha, python stew, huh? Glad you found the book delicious too! And thanks for the tweet!

  9. Tamara Meyers November 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Thank you for the great explanation and examples of using symbolism. It’s an area where I need to improve. I tend to be too specific and straight forward in telling the story. I know my writing will be better when I learn the subtleties and nuances of symbolism, subtext and foreshadowing.

    • Stephanie Prichard November 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      Thanks, Tamara. I’m still learning too. That’s what good writers do–become better writers! It’s hard work but well worth it ~ sometimes even fun!

Leave a Reply