“What is the controlling metaphor, the central image, the fertile symbol that directs your novel or is the source of its energy? It’s in there already, or it’s in your notes.
“It may even be your working title.
“In Louisiana Power & Light the utility company with its transcendent name served as my central metaphor. Mann and Hemingway used mountains as central images and all that their isolation, majesty, and dominance suggested. We all know about the whiteness of Melville’s whale and Harper Lee’s mellisonant and tragic mockingbird.
“So determine your central image or metaphor. Read all about it. Use dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, field books, Web sites, books of quotations, etc. The idea is to open up that image, discover all it’s possible permutations, connotations, and uses.
You guys! I think it actually IS my working title. Just opened my eyes to a whole nutha vista of crap I can write about.