Writing Prompt #15

As usual, let me remind you that you can share your responses to the prompt either in the comments on this post, or in the comments on my response. If your response to the prompt is too long, let me know in the comments and we’ll get it posted as a regular post!

So, I really wanted to wait to give you all this prompt until the videos went up from the TEDxSomerville last weekend, which was pretty incredible, but then I couldn’t wait. You’ll have to settle for visiting this guy’s website instead (on which are several cool videos). Schuyler Towne is a competitive lock-picker. How awesome is that. And no, his talk did not center around picking locks, per se. Instead it focused on the symbolism of locks in society–societies around the world, not just here.

In America, the general perception is of locks to keep people out. Keep our self and our things safe. But other cultures use engraved locks as a symbol of marriage, uniting two people together; other culture may pierce their skin and secure a lock through it as a symbol of their religious devotion. Still yet other, oppressed, cultures may use their locks as a form of rebellion against their oppressors, finding ways around the state mandated rules to give themselves just that little extra bit of warning that the gestapo is bearing down.

But what do locks mean to you? What can they mean to your character? Here I am, giving you a symbol, a theme. Now it’s your job to start with this item/idea and create a story around it that is not about it. That is the hardest thing with symbolism in a story–how do you not make it overbearing? Sometimes the unintentional symbols are the strongest because they are subtle yet powerful.

A teacher of mine (Michael Strelow and his The Greening of Ben Brown) once told me that the river and water metaphor was completely intentional, but when an early reader commented on the wonderful light imagery, he had no idea what they were talking about until he went back to look at it. And let me tell you, it is magnificent.

So, here I shall stop rambling. Your task is to write something involving locks. Go.

Really old, rusty lock

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