The Elephant In The Room – 5 Tips To Taming The Elephant In Your Manuscript

Don’t you just love it when people avoid mentioning the obvious, so as not to offend someone? The elephant in the room is stomping around and they are whispering about a mosquito that keeps buzzing around their head.

It’s time we all stood up and said, “THERE IS AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!”

We may not be the most popular person at the moment, but we are to be genuine if anything at all. Do we run around shouting, “Look at that elephant?” No. We just realize that friends don’t let friends keep their pet elephants.

Does someone you know have a pet elephant in their writing? Inevitably, yes. That elephant detracts from the writing talent and it is time to tame the elephant.

The elephant can be anything from an unteachable spirit to multiple point of view shifts in a scene. It is something that detracts from their talent.

5 Tips To Help Someone Tame The Elephant In Their Writing:

*Relationship Determines Tone. If you are not close to an individual and they are merely in your larger critique group, tread gently if at all. Writers are a sensitive lot, we throw our hard work out their to be sliced and diced, but it still hurts. Be gentle.

*Only Elephant Trainers Should Tackle the Job. To be an elephant trainer, you should have some solid expertise in the area. You can’t run around telling people everything that is wrong with their manuscript if you aren’t trained in the writing craft.

*Focus Only On One Elephant At A Time. Sometimes newer writers have a whole herd of elephants. You can’t get rid of them all at once. Pick the one that is the greatest detriment to their success first. Wait until that elephant is tamed before starting in on something new.

*If You Want To Be An Elephant Tamer, Plan To Mentor. You can’t tell someone something is broken with their novel and then walk away. That would be the same as if a doctor diagnosed the patient with a broken arm, but didn’t provide any treatment. Elephant tamers need to share resources and mentor.

*Encourage. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage. Remember how difficult it is to hear that something is wrong with your writing. It is essential to encourage and recognize all of the strengths before and after addressing the elephant.

What tips do you have for helping someone tame the elephant, or taming the elephant in your own work?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

5 thoughts on “The Elephant In The Room – 5 Tips To Taming The Elephant In Your Manuscript

  1. All very good tips for critiquing someone’s work. One thing I try to do is start the critique off with a positive and highlight something I like before I mark something that is wrong.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    That is so important! Thanks for the input, Pat.

  3. M. Saint-Germain says:

    You are SO right about this. I’ve realized that many writers do NOT want to be told where the elephant is. They’d rather pretend it’s invisible. So I try to find several positive things to say. Then I assess their personalities to decide whether I think they’re confident enough for suggestions. (It depends where they are in their writing careers.)
    But Michelle, I hereby give you permission to please, please tell me if you see something in my writing that could improve. I need it and am impatient to improve. So show me that elephant! Tell me what color he is and how I could eliminate him.

  4. M. Saint-Germain says:

    Yikes. That should have been: “Tell me what color he is and how to eliminate him.” Sheesh. (I just had a glimpse of one of my elephants.)

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    Michelle, you are a fabulous writer, but I promise always to “Show Me The Elephant” and I hope you will do the same for me. I think we have just coined a new phrase for my blog the “Show Me The Elephant” Club! So Awesome…I will try to find a way to let everyone join on my blog. This is fabulous…thanks for the inspiration!

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