E is for Elephant. (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so the ideas I will be posted are free for any of you to use.
What? You don’t think there’s a place for an elephant in Romance? Think again. PHILOSOPHY MADE SIMPLE by Robert Hellenga, though a literary novel, is wonderfully romantic. The characters are over 30, and according to Robert Parnell, that won’t work in genre romance. But it does work in love stories and literary romance, and so did the elephant. But consider a different idea–and I’m not talking love between Mr. and Mrs. Elephant. But what if your characters meet at a circus? What if the hero was balancing on one hand on top of an elephant, and the heroine came to his rescue when he fell? Or perhaps she is the person training the elephant, and that’s how she meets the guy dressed in a glittering costume who will start the show with the elephant. Or maybe they met at a zoo. Or they both worked there. Either the hero or heroine could be close friends with the elephant, while the other is annoyed by the noisy and obnoxious creature.
In a Mystery, it would be intriguing if the tracks the sleuth was scouting was made by an elephant. Or maybe the elephant is the victim – either elephant-napped or murdered. This could be serious, because I doubt elephants are cheap. There could be quite the ransom put up for a beloved elephant. Whodunit and why?
When you’re trying to learn why someone would kill an elephant, you naturally have to let your imagination take you to the question, Who does the elephant belong to? What does this elephant mean to that person? Those questions will help you shape your mystery.
If you’re writing in the Literary life (Hellenga successfully combined literary and romantic–my heart was twittering nonstop), you might consider the power and strength that elephant has, and the symbolism you could create with it. You might think about the old cliché “the white elephant in the room.” You don’t have to use the words of the cliché in your story, but you could certainly borrow the theme or premise. And how could a story like that not turn into something literary? After all, we all know it’s often what we don’t talk about that is the most powerful weight in our lives. What situation could be devastating to two or more people, yet remains something none of them will mention? Play with that idea circled around an elephant and you’ll be on your way to a good story.
There are already quite a few elephant stories out there for Children, but if they are good, there’s always room for more. When I was a child, I’d often imagine what it would be like to use an elephant’s long trunk as my personal slide. I was sure it would be great fun, and never once did I consider that the trunk might not be slippery enough to get me sliding. I also never thought of what could happen if I was on that trunk when the elephant whipped it back and let out a loud noise (that I can’t even imitate right now).
Today I’m a little older, and the idea of climbing an elephant’s trunk would scare me poopless, though I do see the humor that could be created around a child with such a goal. Another idea would be a kid who wants to save an elderly elephant from whatever destiny circus owners or zookeepers might have in mind for it.
Grab an idea and get writing! Or, share an idea in one of these genres or one I didn’t mention, such as sci-fi or fantasy. Thanks!