The Art of Allegory

According to Fred White in The Daily Writer “Every aspiring writer should read an allegory now and then because it illustrates, in a vivid way, the essence of storytelling.”

Ok, well you know me, I do like to learn stuff, I’m always up for a challenge and that there statement Mr White, is pure fighting talk! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So what is an allegory? I knew about allegory in paintings, so I kinda knew what it was, but, in fiction? Hmmmm, nope, can’t think that anyone’s every mentioned it to me before now. I hadn’t even considered it.

My first stop, Wikipedia, says “a device in which characters or events represent or symbolise ideas and concepts. As a literary device, an allegory in its most general sense is an extended metaphor.”

Ahhhhh, I see…I think lol

A story where things and people represent something entirely different, ie, an idea or philosophy. The story conveys a deeper meaning (has 2 meanings) and the characters are usually personifications of ideas such as charity, greed, hope and envy.

Image from dtldobsvtn’s Blog post on Allegory

So as far as examples go, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a good one. The farm animals represent Communist Russia. The pigs are the government, the dogs, the police and the rest of the animals symbolise the working class. Another is John Bunyans The Pilgrims Progress

The Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz said “An allegory is not meant to be taken literally. There is a great lack of comprehension on the part of some readers.”

Hmmmmm….ok, it does sound quite fascinating, but bloody hard work! Lol. I’m not sure I would be up to it that’s for sure ๐Ÿ˜‰

So have you ever written an allegory? Is it something you would try?

There’s a great article on the Writerly Life site which tells you how to write one if you fancy giving it a go. Me, I think I’ll just stick to stories with one meaning ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Naming Game

I’ve had this post in my draft folder for a couple of days, and yesterday morning, I sat, with my cup of tea (every morning I read other peoples blog posts while I drink my first tea of the day lol) and discovered that a fellow blogger was talking about exactly the same thing…. spooky!

Check out journeyofjordannaeast where she talks about the struggles of naming characters ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, as most of my regular readers will know, I do a prompt a day, a short story or the start of one. So everyday I’m trying to come up with names for characters. Every couple of weeks I sit and dedicate a whole page in my notebook to ‘Name Ideas’ so I’m always on the look out for methods, tips and resources ๐Ÿ™‚

So here are some ways/places I get my character names from:

1. The credits on a film I’ve just watched. (I’ve been known to play the end credits frame by frame before now lol).

2. Books on quotations. I’m currently using a battered old copy of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations that I picked up in a charity shop for a quid ๐Ÿ™‚


3. Wikipedia which is a great source. Say I needed the name for a male character of a certain age who comes from Brazil. Search for the Brazilian football team and bobs your uncle! (English version of hey presto lol) You have a list of all the players ๐Ÿ™‚


4. One of my absolute favourites…..any excuse obviously lol…..FaceBook! If you’re the member of any groups, check out the members list, you can usually see how old people are from their photo’s. Or if you have a friend (or family member) who has millions of friends (like my daughter who I think has about 800), check out their friends list.

5. Here in the UK a lot of our local papers have a Births, Deaths & Marriages section. Can be quite useful as you will know exact ages (as too can be the reporters names in the same paper).

6. Stuck for a surname? Google Maps ๐Ÿ™‚ Pick a town, city, place…..road/street names are excellent for surnames. Or even a paper map (they do still exist you know lol)


My favourites from this one: Green – Ridley – Addington – Hartley – Cliffe – Halling and of course Rochester (hasn’t that one already been used? Lol)

7. And finally, name generators online. I don’t often need to use these sites, but if I do, my favourite is Seventh Sanctum which has loads of links to creativity generators.

Obviously you can use baby name books, but I find the modern ones hard because a name that is listed may have only been in existence for a few years. No good if trying to name a 45 year old.

One final thing about using real peoples names>;;>;;>;;>;;>;;>;; When I use FaceBook for name ideas I’m very careful to mix up surnames with first names. I don’t ever use their first name and surname combined. That could get you in a lot of hot water. But, if you think about it, whatever name you choose there is bound to be someone out there who has that exact combination of first and second name.

One last tip…..make sure all your characters names all start with different letters and don’t sound the same. Your reader will be way confused. I recently read a story where a dog was called Taylor and the baby was Tyler. I had to re-read a whole section as I thought it was still talking about the dog, and wondered what it was doing in a cot ๐Ÿ˜‰

So how do you come up with your characters names? I would love to hear yor ideas/tips and resources.

Yesterday’s prompt was write about fruit flesh. Yuk, that just sounds wrong! lol. I know it is flesh, but….. Lol. Anyway, I came up with a sweet little story about a girl on a bench eating a pear. An old man sits down and chats and it turns out he’s a retired market stall holder (his son has taken over the business) who use to sell fruit and vege. That’s as far as I got, but I’m thinking there’s a romance there, especially as the son is a hunky barrow boy *sniggers*
Today’s prompt is this is how lonesome feels which is already depressing me and I haven’t even started writing yet lol