How to avoid the literary elephant in the room

Create an elephant metaphor

Elephant metaphors abound in literature.
  • Elephant metaphors abound in literature.

Post Title: Find the hook

Post Date: December 4, 2014

How do writers discover the hook that snags readers? Rather than hammer with the obvious, a nudge will do. Probe the intensity of sunset avoiding adjectives like beautiful, spectacular, or inspiring. Move beyond the obvious. Consider using connections and a metaphor to describe a scene many take for granted. Use a single sailboat to describe a mood. How does the slant of tree branches affect the texture of sky? Use sound and scent to enrich sight imagery.

Post Title: Elephant needs bicycle

Post Date: December 3, 2014

What’s as unnecessary as an elephant needing a bicycle? Elephant metaphors abound in speech and literature.

Kings of Siam offered a rare white elephant to noblemen who had fallen out of favor. The cost of feeding and caring for the creature destroyed the recipient. This evolved into using “white elephant” to refer to an expensive and wasteful construction project.

Then a white elephant became an undesirable possession. A white elephant sale attracted individuals who found value in others’ discards. In his story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway led the reader to decide the value.

An elephant in the room refers to an obvious situation no one wants to acknowledge.

The elephant test refers to the difficulty describing an elephant. One just knows it when one sees it. In one story, six blind men had the task of describing an elephant. Each felt a different part and described the animal from that reference point: the trunk, a tusk, an ear, a leg, the stomach, and the tail.

Have you heard anyone say that they hope to “see the elephant”? Individuals traveled miles to view an elephant in a circus parade or under the big top. As a result, any overwhelming experience could result in seeing the elephant.

Other elephant attributes include superior intelligence and memory. Create your own elephant metaphors for a story or poem. Or, try the fox, chicken, frog, snake or donkey. 

Post Title: Write into unfinished efforts

Post Date: November 25, 2014

Life story writing delves into a composite of strengths and struggles. It takes insight and courage to confront mistakes and failings and let them trickle onto the page. Self-understanding results from acknowledging areas of vulnerability. 

Everyone suffers from what Thomas Merton calls the “trembling self.” Individuals are not always heroic and right.  Delving into troubling notions begins the eternal search for “how am I” in addition to the “who.”

Write into, around, and through an issue that causes a “trembling self.”

Post Title: Writers need rest

Post Date: November 21, 2014

During a period of not writing, notions and ideas flicker the synapses in kaleidoscopic fashion. With deadlines approaching, it becomes difficult to let that “nothing” happen. Even a short break will prove valuable.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the magic of brain swirl depended on channeling from the Muses. Unknowingly, while leaving it to the Gods, they permitted time for rest to take over.

Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, became frustrated with the notion of the sewing needle because he could not determine how to thread and mechanize it. One day he stopped and stared out the window.

Later, he told his wife he had a daydream of standing inside a black pot of boiling water in the jungle. A native came to him, ready to thrust a spear. He looked up and noticed the spear had a hole in its tip. When he returned to his work, he decided to try a hole in the tip of the needle in his machine. Aha!

[Posts edited for length]

Title: Penny Wilkes — The Word Warbler | Address: penjaminswriteway.blogspot.com

Author: Penny Wilkes | From: La Jolla | Blogging since: August 2008

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Comments

According to Wikipedia, Elias Howe definitely did NOT invent the sewing machine, but he did greatly improve it with his unique design that got a U.S. Patent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sewing_machine

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