Tag Archives: writers

Titles…

Someone asked me the other day how I come up with the titles to my stories and novels.  They are all different and don’t really follow a common thread. Book titles, I feel, are like your children’s names: you want them to be unique, but not so unique they become albatrosses or points of ridicule. I discovered through research  (okay, through Google!) there is an entire industry devoted just to this: how to pick the correct words to capture a reader from the get-go; the word combinations never to use in a title; the words that have the most impact on sales.

I know some writers who use song titles for their books and expound on them in the story.  I love this idea. I know another author who writes down every combination of a phrase based on what the book is about until the perfect title presents itself. I also love this idea.  Some experts say never to have more than one word or two at the most in the title so that it grabs the reader’s attention.  Long winded names can be turn offs to people glancing at the book rack in Barnes and Noble. The key, advertising executives always say, is “short, punchy, and memorable.”The original working titles for my favorite all time book, Gone With The Wind, were Tomorrow is another day and Ba! Ba! Black Sheep.

Now would GWTW have been such a mega hit if it had one of those titles? Who knows. I certainly don’t think the movie would have done as well with the sheep title, do you?

To Kill a Mockingbird was called Atticus before Harper Lee – thankfully – changed it.

And my favorite title change – more about why in a bit – was Pride and Prejudice. Austen originally called it First Impressions.

Now my titles are usually the first thing that pops into my head when I’m working a new plot through. I don’t try to be cute or fancy or erudite. I just “see” the title in my head, and that’s it for me. I’ve never had an editor or even a reader tell me the work was mis-named or would have been better suited to some other title. Maybe this is arrogant on my part, and okay, I’ll agree with that. They are, after all, MY titles. But again, just like when  you name a child, you want the title/name to be a reflection of your thought and love. You want it to be able to convey something of what the book is about when you are trying to capture a potential reader’s attention. Skater’s Waltz has two words and is actually a piece of music. There’s No place Like Home, has 5 and it’s a sentence in one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. My third book, which I am thrilled to announce just went to contract, is First Impressions. See now why I like that Austen changed her title?

Titles are like names. They should be individual, coherent, and special. They should capture a reader’s attention and their desire to want to read more. Think of your favorite book titles. Do they fit in with this thought? I know mine do.

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Filed under Characters, Dialogue

Almost half way thru NaNoWriMo…

30 days can be regarded in a number of ways. It’s a full month on a calendar ( if you disregard February and forget the 31 day months); it’s a little over 4 exact weeks; it’s a pay period for most workers, a menstrual cycle, and a billing rotation. It’s the amount of time most people set aside to get a haircut. Psychologists tell us in 30 days we can form new and better habits, changing out old, bad ones. Many contact lenses need to be replaced every 30 days, and you should really change some of your makeup monthly as well.

All those things can be done in 30 days. Most with relative ease.

What’s not so easy to do in 30 days is write a 50,000+ word novel/first draft.

Don’t get me wrong: it can be done. And has.

But it really isn’t that easy.

We’re almost at the halfway time mark of this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m doing well – better than I expected, really. Right now I’m sitting in my local Subaru dealer getting my car inspected and fixing a recall problem.

And I’m typing. At this moment – this blog entry. But until a minute ago I was working on my NaNo WIP. I’ve found I bring my laptop with me everywhere I go, including to work, and when I can manage it – lunch hours and breaks in the day, – I open my NaNo file and … go.

The goal of 50,000 words can seem daunting. For most, it is. But for people like us who write for a living/hobby/obsession, it’s not as bad as it seems.

Breaking it down to a little over 1500 words per day – or roughly 6-7 pages of  double spaced text – it can be done.

And remember – this is a first draft. It’s not the finished, polished, ready to submit one. That comes later with editing.

I find with this draft I usually do a lot of dialogue. I can always put in the subtext, tags, and descriptions later with the editing, but I like to know what my peeps are gonna say first and take the story from there. Dialogue comes quick to me – probably because I never shut up in real life! But seriously, whatever comes easiest for you – dialogue, exposition, description, or even backstory – go with it. Let it flow and let it go. Like I said, you can always go back later, after the challenge, and make it better.

But get those words on the page now. That’s what the important part of the challenge is. Training yourself to type everyday, to create on a  timeline, to focus your thoughts and words.

So, how far are you at this halfway mark?

 

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