I like what Stephen King has to say about symbolism, foreshadowing and that kind of stuff. In On Writing he says that you shouldn’t go for it in story telling but if it evolves and you pick it up as you edit it can be a real bonus.
Planting symbolism usually comes out as forced and when it becomes obvious the power of it is sapped.
In my work-in-progress I wrote a scene in which a male (Duffy) and female (TJ) box. As I wrote the sparring scene I realized it began to read like something else.
Let me know what you think.
“Let’s start slow, kind of feel each other out,” he said. TJ nodded. Duffy threw a jab toward her face at about half speed and she blocked it. She countered, parrying off his punch and the speed surprised him. He blocked part of it but a part of her glove got a little bit of cheek.
“Whew, you got some speed,” he said.
He threw a double jab, this time taking the speed and power up a notch. His intensity increase told her he respected her skills and the uptick in power was his way of letting her know he respected whom he was in with.
She stepped inside his next jab and through a three-punch uppercut to his body. His abs were firm and she knew the punches didn’t take anything out of him. Still, getting inside him and scoring was a victory in and of itself. He spun to his left and tapped her with two jabs. He shot them to her face and she could tell he opened his hand to lessen the impact. She deflected most of the jabs, taking just a little leather on her cheek.
“Nice movement,” TJ said.
She moved toward him, hitched her left shoulder to feint a jab and drove a straight right down the middle of his guard. He went for the feint and it fooled him. The right landed harder than TJ expected. She felt his nose against her knuckles through the padding of the glove.
“Oooh sorry. I didn’t mean to–“
“Nice shot, you caught me.” Duffy said offering his glove to tap, the universal, nonverbal boxing language of affirmation. Immediately, TJ felt embarrassed and silly for apologizing. The last thing she wanted was to come out sounding girly.
“I need to work on the ropes. Can you pressure me a bit?” I wasn’t unusual for a fighter to work on strategy during sparring. Working on the ropes required advanced skills.
“Just throw at me,” he said.
TJ let go with combinations focusing on speed. She’d go jab right, jab, jab, right and finish off with a hook. Then she alternated going upstairs and to the body. Her rat-at-tat-tats to the body came lightening quick and when she ended it with a left to the head it caught him flush on the jaw line.
She heard him grunt and it let her know that her hook had something on it. He tightened his guard and lowered his crouch. TJ was breathing hard, really hard, from the work but she was loving every second of it. She mustered all she could and let go with another combination.
Duffy took three punches on his gloves. Her next right came down the middle but he was ready for her. He stepped into the punch, hooked his upper arm around it and trapped it. Then, he turned TJ so that she was the one against the ropes.
The move caught her by surprise and it almost took her breath away. Her face was planted on his chest and she needed to breath deeply to get her wind. Her arms, needing to balance the rest of her, wrapped around his waist, forcing her even closer to him. Duffy leaned his weight into her and her back went in to the ropes. The ropes stretched and bent with the force of the two bodies.
It was some advanced movement and it was clear this guy knew what he was doing. TJ felt his weight, his hard upper body pressed against hers and she knew he had her tied up. It was both an offensive and defensive move at the same time.
She was breathing hard and took the clinch to rest as fighters often do. She let Duffy support her as she leaned back into him. He was warm, almost hot, from the work and so was she. Her breathing didn’t come back as fast as she wanted it to and she realized she was not only winded but wet from the exertion.
After what seemed like a long moment she worked out of the clinch and they danced to the center of the ring. She threw a double jab without much steam and he caught both of them. The buzzer sounded and TJ was grateful for the rest.
Both of them were winded from the exertion.
“Hey, you really got something,” Duffy said.
“So do you,” TJ said with a heavy exhale.
They went at it again for two more rounds and had found that rhythm that fighters who work together for a long time find. They could challenge each other, they could make the other work and they could also slow things down to a comfortable pace and just move for the good of the movement.
TJ hadn’t had anything like this in a long time.