Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is there an Elephant in the room?


E is for Elephant: Is there an elephant in the room of your current story? I don't mean the two ton grey creature that is about to charge you with his ivory tusks, I mean the invisible "elephant that lurks in the corners of our lives and in the lives of our characters.

 In real life many times there is an "elephant" or topic that should be spoken of but that no one wants to bring up. These topics are either totally ignored, quickly brushed over, or whispered about behind the closed door of another room like juicy gossip.

Examples:

  • At family gatherings no one wants to mention that grandpap is confused and unkempt. Bringing this "elephant" up would start world war three and no one wants to admit that grandpap is failing or that he may need medical attention.
  • Someone in the family has a drinking problem, it is a huge secret except everyone knows but no one says anything. The elephant sits quietly in the room at dinners where family gather watching the dance everyone does around the subject as the wine is being poured.
  • At the most recent play date with your friends and their children, one child stands out as a crying spoiled misbehaved little one that ruins the playtime on every occasion. NO one dares speak of this because of the fear of hurting feelings, yet everyone is beginning to resent the child for being a brat.
  • The pastor is speaking to a small group with his zipper down. Now who in the world would speak up about that?
The elephant in the room of your story can be relayed to the reader by way of the thoughts of one or two of the characters, by describing the scene and actions of those in the room, and by building an emotional connection to the characters so the reader can relate to that same elephant.

A good story will be  emotionally packed, action packed, and filled with twists and turns that will ultimately lead you to the unseen elephant in your story. What and where is the elephant in your current piece of writing? Would your story improve if there was an "elephant" that stirred your characters into action?

Let me know what you think and how you deal with the "elephant" in your work.


11 comments:

  1. Elephants you say... hhhmmm I will try to work it into a poem somewhere today! Or maybe I will try a painting or drawing of one!

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  2. I never thought of the elephants in a story...you have made me think! Thanks so much for your post, and enjoy the challenge.

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  3. Sorry, Terri...I meant to mention that your word verification is still on. It may deter others from leaving comments for the challenge. Hope that is helpful!

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  4. I did in my second book and it tied back to an event that happened in the first book.
    At the main A to Z Blog we have instructions on how to turn off word verification if you need help. It will prevent a lot of people from commenting.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. I like your examples. I think showing without telling is a good way to address an elephant in the room. One can bring up a touchy subject but instead of writing "touchy subject" all over it, just explain what the touchy subject looks like, how it behaves, how others react to it, and perhaps even shed light on why others don't want to call attention to it.

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