How to Write Symbol
One way to bring symbolism into your writing, is to:
1. Start with some abstract idea that you want to write about.
2. Then think about what characters or images might “stand in” for that idea.
You might be interested in the concept of courage, so you would create a character who symbolizes courage, such as a warrior or political prisoner.
3. Once you’ve created this symbolic character, remember that whatever happens to the character becomes a message about the idea.
So if your political prisoner ends up meeting a tragic fate, readers will interpret your story as a warning about how courage doesn’t always bring happiness. If the character ends up succeeding in the story, it becomes a story about the triumph of courage. Your views on the concept must dictate how the story goes!
It’s best not to limit the story to a single symbol, though. The best symbolism is a complex interplay of multiple symbols, embodied in different characters, places, or plot devices. To go back to our story about courage, you might want to have another character representing selfishness or perhaps mercy. When the character interacts with your warrior/prisoner, you have an opportunity to say something about the relationship between courage and these other concepts.
When to Use a Symbol
Literary symbols definitely belong more to creative writing than formal essays. This is because different people may read symbols in different ways. If you want to say something precisely you can’t use any symbols except the technical ones, like $. In a formal essay, your job is always to be as clear and direct as possible.
In creative writing, however, symbols are an excellent way to find inspiration use your imaginations, and cretae more interesting, sophisticated stories. If your characters and images are symbolic, the story feels much more meaningful and purposeful, and is likely to be more enjoyable to read. Readers have the pleasure of figuring out your symbols, and then get to interpret the ideas behind your story. No longer just a plot or description, your story can touch on ideas about life that are important and interesting to most people.