07 October 2019

In the Pie of the Beholder

If you're like me (crazy), you like to sneak symbolism and themes and all that literary nonsense (that you swore writers never did on purpose when you read Lord of the Flies in sophomore year) into your books. You think it gives your story more depth, and gives the reader more to think about. Or you just worry your book would be a massive trash pile without it. Either way, is it possible to have too much symbolism? When is enough enough?

Ok, so A LOT of tiny little details in UL are totally planned. I've got symbolism, parallel lines, parallel characters. You name it, I probably have it. So when I come across something that doesn't have some sort of double meaning, I wonder if it should.

Chapter 1 ends with Jordan eating an entire pie in one sitting. I have no worries about the act itself, it really works, it has different layers and whatnot. The thing that keeps nagging at my brain is the type of pie. This is some serious literature here, right?? When the type of pie you wrote doesn't feel quite right...

Ok, so since the dawn of time, aka, when I started writing this book, the pie in question has ALWAYS been key lime. HOWEVER...I had absolutely no reason for making it a key lime pie. There is no double meaning, no symbolism. If I ever publish this book and someone asked me, "why key lime??" I wouldn't have an answer. So I wonder if I should have a more symbolic flavor of pie (words I didn't ever think I'd be saying).

I've thought of a few. There's cherry, which could totally have some sexual symbolism (I think...?). Plus red is a color I use symbolically throughout the book, so diving into a cherry pie and making a mess of it would seem more meaningful.

Then there's apple pie. My obvious thought is the whole apple/forbidden fruit idea, which would totally work in the book itself. But I also know I'm throwing in a lot of Garden of Eden themed symbols in Book 3, so this could also connect to that.

But then I also wonder...does it really matter? Should I just keep it key lime because that's what it's always been? Or because I already have enough symbolism in my book? Do I really need ANOTHER THING??? I also think eating a whole key lime pie in one sitting would be way more doable than an apple or cherry pie, but I also don't have a teenage boy's metabolism.

So what do you think? Does the pie really matter? Or am I overthinking this way too much? Or are you all just hungry now??


  1. I don’t think everything has to be symbolic. And I don’t think the reader would get all of it. Maybe try to think of one that would be a favorite for who your character is, especially since he eats the whole one.

  2. Sarah, thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting!

    I think your thinking is brilliant. You have a deep mind. You think in layers. First off: Is the symbolism pertinent to the plot? Is there something you want to establish or get across? It's like the Chekoff's gun:"Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that suggests that details within a story or play will contribute to the overall narrative. This encourages writers to not make false promises in their narrative by including extemporaneous details that will not ultimately pay off by the last act, chapter, or conclusion." https://www.masterclass.com/articles/writing-101-what-is-chekhovs-gun-learn-how-to-use-chekhovs-gun-in-your-writing

    I feel the symbolism is worth it if you post an author's note at the end of your book because your readers won't realize it, but your symbolism will send a message to them on a psychological level!

  3. Go with key lime. Some genius reader will decipher the symbolism that your writer brain knows that you haven;t yet figured out. I think it's part of our DNA or muscle memory...something. I wrote my first series of books and a reader pointed out the symbolism of each place to the story. Did I plan it? No, it just felt right and I wrote it. But then I looked over the books: book 1, the MC wanted to be self-reliant and was obsessed with her privacy- island setting; book 2, MC was angry, bitter, and cut off from the world- Montana; book 3 MC was hiding her true identity and lots of secrets- DC.

    I never planned for symbolic settings. I just went with what my story gut told me to do. So, keep it. One day, a reader will tell you what your subconscious was trying to tell you.

  4. I agree with Natalie that not everything needs to be symbolic, but I do wonder about what kind of pie is right for this particular character. Key Lime to me suggests Florida or summer--do those images fit with this character's personality?

  5. Who couldn't eat a whole Cherry pie to themselves? Anyone? Oh, just me then...

  6. Oh the problems of a writer.... I for one was lousy at the hidden images/ideas in stories I had to read in hs/college until the teacher spelled them out, oh duh. I just have a problem with someone eating a whole pie of anything, lol! :)

  7. I say keep it Key Lime - it's your character's personal favorite, maybe. Maybe he can revisit that at some point. Maybe a love interest figures it out and surprises him with something key lime-ish. ? Just throwing out random ideas. :)