This post is brought to you by the letter L.
If you grew up loving Sesame Street or have a kid who watches it quite often, you know where that introduction comes from. Also, it shows you how a recurring device sticks with you.
(also spelled leitmotiv): From the German term for "lead motif," a leit-motif originally was coined by Hans von Wolzuegen to designate a musical theme associated with a particular object, character, or emotion. For instance, the ominous music in Jaws plays whenever the shark is approaching. That particular score is the leit-motif for the shark. In literature, critics have adapted the term leit-motif to refer to an object, animal, phrase, or other thing loosely associated with a character, a setting, or event. The leit-motif is not necessarily a symbol (though it can be). Rather, it is a recurring device loosely linked with a character, setting, or event. It gives the audience a "heads-up" by calling attention to itself and suggesting that its appearance is somehow connected with its appearance in other parts of the narrative.
Actually, my husband came up with two great examples for this one: I am Legend by Richard Matheson and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. Both feature men traveling their life journey with a dog, a companion used to show the reader more about the characters.
So many wonderful reads use a recurring object or character phrase to build a story and engaging the reader. Think Bond and his shaken-not-stirred martini or Bugs Bunny's "What's Up, Doc?".
For fun, I thought we could play a little game. The following are repetitive phrases associated with a character:
1. Elementary, my dear...
2. Old sport
3. Bah, Humbug
Do you know who these characters are? Feel free to play along in the comments.
Please visit other L posts here. Wishing everyone a lovely Saturday!