Why motifs are cool in your novel
Writing motifs are cool. They are one of those elements that elevate your novel from something crooning Celine Dion off-key on a karaoke stage to Ms. Dion herself.
They are a big deal.
Here is what LitCharts says about them:
MOTIFS ARE THE SHEBANG SHEBANG
- Make things moody;
- Help pimp out the main themes of your story;
- Act a bit like foreshadowing and make your readers psychic; it helps them ‘get’ the story on a deeper level;
- Uses repeating symbols or patterns to make a deeper layer of meaning; and
- Are cool.
A MOTIF IS NOT A THEME!
According to MasterClass,
- “Themes are the main ideas of a work of literature. They represent the meaning or question behind the series of events that make up the narrative.
- “Motifs are recurring elements that point to these themes. In other words, motif is a tool used to craft theme. While themes are abstract and conceptual, motifs are tangible and concrete.”
So . . .
“If a story features repeated images of handwashing, mopping floors, and refreshing rain, then these images of cleansing water are a recurring literary motif. A theme of the story might be ‘the desire for purification.’ The theme is a matter of interpretation, open to debate, but the motif is an indisputable pattern in the text.
A MOTIF IS NOT JUST A SYMBOL!
Motifs use the heck out of symbols (hello green light at the end of the dock in The Great Gatsby) but they are not always the same thing.
Sometimes a symbol is just a symbol, just a sweet object that’s representing something abstract (like love or power).
The big difference? A symbol can show up once and be done. A motif requires multiple…