Symbols are important. They are vivid, shorthand ways for a reader to connect with a character.
Consider the button bazillionaire hero Roarke carries in the In Death series. It's Eve's fallen off her clothes (coat, I think), from before they were a couple. It's his reminder of who she was and why he fell in love with her, and the reader's too.
Consider Nixie's guitar, Oscar. She's a musician so her guitar is her life, so much so that she named it. It paints her vividly as a punk rocker. But more, the bent tuner (metal peg) is a reminder of (*SPOILER*) her dead sister, and how Nixie treated her. So there's a bit of heart there too. Heart which becomes even more poignant when (*SPOILER*) she has to break Oscar to save her own life. Ah, but that's not the end of the story :) so I haven't given it all away in case you haven't read Biting Nixie yet.
In a nutshell, here's one effective way to use symbols.
1. WHAT. Pick an object that the character LOVES or HATES. That object is a symbol for your character.
2. WHY. Later in the book, explain why the character is attached to that object.
3. SACRIFICE. This is optional, but if your character loves the symbol, consider sacrificing the object in some way to vividly point up the character's break with their past. From this point forward, the symbol is broken and the character is new.
4. RESURRECTION. This is even more optional, but consider a way for the SYMBOL TO COME BACK, to return but in a new way, tied to the change in the character.
Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing
wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular
order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.