Previous parts of this series are indexed here:
And here is a video ...
...which is a grand example of how to integrate all these posts on Depiction with the entire series on SYMBOLISM which will need an index post eventually. Meanwhile, here are a few of the related posts to symbolism:
Yes, we have been working on theme-symbolism integration since 2009 at least! Symbolism is most important in connecting a modern human reader to a future alien character or civilization. Symbolism is even more important in casting the spell of Romance over a reader. Here is the series on why we cry at weddings.
And here is one about Theme-Worldbuilding integration:
We have studied the individual components of this craft, and now are looking at how to join those components into a seamless and functioning whole -- a whole the reader can not reverse engineer (unless the reader is a writer who understands these craft techniques).
Basically, we study the current world we live in, and we study the humans around us both as individuals and as the trends they respond to in large groups. Then we build a world the people living in this world WOULD believe if they walked into it through a dimensional gateway.
To build a convincing Alien Civilization, you must include the elements that your readers take for granted in this civilization. One thing that has arisen in recent decades is the Internet and its ability to carry video.
This video-package editing art form has been around since (to my knowledge) the 1970's when fans took clips of Star Trek episodes and blended them with filk music, showing them via VCR in hotel rooms packed with laughing fans.
The clip-editing art form dates back to the 1940's theatrical shorts, especially the News Reel, short clips edited with narrative to create an impression.
This video clip we're studying here
Is a series of still IMAGES which are SYMBOLS of a time past, mostly the late 1940's and 1950's, symbols still extant in the 1960's. The music is a Dean Martin hit song, Memories Are Made Of This -- popularized by radio disk jockeys (paid of course by the music publishing industry to favor one singer over another.)
Those who did not grow up in the era when those images were common will not respond emotionally to them the same way that someone whose teens were spent surrounded by those items would.
That objectivity is what I'm after here, presenting this video for scrutiny.
"Memories Are Made Of This" -- listen to the words of the song. Create the SYMBOLS your Aliens would hold as Memories.
Here are the lyrics posted by Google
Now plot your Romance with an Alien creating as you go along, just the right SYMBOL fabricated out of an integration of the human's symbols (of which the human's memories are "made") and the Alien symbols (which you invented).
Yes, writing Science Fiction Romance is hard work. But it is worth it, and with practice it gets easier and swifter.
Here is a YouTube play of the song without the Memories video clips.
It has had well over a million views, and there's a good reason for that.
Nostalgia sells. If your Aliens do not have nostalgia triggers, no human reader would believe a human could fall in love with that Alien. (You might want to create some Aliens like that, too, for contrast and conflict.)
Create a bit of nostalgia in your novel for your readers to share with their grandchildren.
Note in this brilliant video the absence of BOOKS as nostalgic triggers. Readers are always between 5 and maybe max 15% of the total population (which is why writers have a hard time making any money.) These visual items, common everyday sights, and that song (which was saturating the radio airwaves so it is known even to non-readers), combine to depict nostalgia.
What books should have been included?
Create an Alien story, novel, stage play, fictional event, that DEPICTS the era when your Alien love interest was adolescent (whatever that meant to that species).
Please study this video. If you have to, then just make yourself a Facebook Account and then delete it when you're done studying.
This Facebook video has had about 300,000 "shares" -- it nails it! Study how that was done. Disassemble into the components, study the components, invent the Alien equivalents in your universe, reassemble into the Alien art form. Your Characters and their Romance will seem real to your readers.
That "seem real" is what we call verisimilitude and this exercise is how you achieve that.
The goal of the exercise is not to make you suffer through this tedious exercise every single time you set out to create an alien civilization. The goal is to train (not teach, train) your subconscious to do this analysis/synthesis process outside your conscious awareness and present you with dynamite imagery for your novel.
To make a living at writing, you have to get fast and efficient because words aren't worth much, and art is worth even less. You have to get to where it is easy to do this, but you nail it (just like this video does) each time.
You achieve this level of proficiency by plodding through the process one step at a time, and practicing and practicing. Some people need more practice -- others somewhat less -- but with that goal of proficiency in mind, the practice time and repetitions will be minimized. The important part is to avoid practicing your mistakes.
That is a goal of these posts -- to minimize the amount of practice necessary to become proficient in writing craft skills. Fill your mind with the abstract, then practice making that abstract concrete.
The series linked above on Theme-Symbolism integration should help. Read that series on Weddings, and create a series like it about say, Christmas or New Year's, or whatever winter solstice festivity is your favorite.