Finding a fitting title for your novel can be a frustrating, tear-inducing, hair-pulling process. As I understand, editors and publishers might toy with and tweak your title before your book is published, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strong working title for your WIP! A unique title will help your query stand out as you seek publication, and having a title that fits your work well can keep you focused on the overall message of your story as you write it.
So, how do you select a fitting title? There’s a billion methods, but here’s a few strategies that could work for you:
Whenever I’m developing a plot for a story, I feel a little like a seamstress trying to make a whole quilt out of a few scattered, seemingly mismatched patches. I have a sense of an ending, a few random visuals or snippets of dialogue, and, if I’m lucky, the mental images of three or four characters I want to go on this journey with. The act of writing then becomes finding more patches and an overall working pattern to connect all this disparate pieces into something warm and snuggable, that you want to wrap up with in front of a cozy fire.
What I’ve found is that, when you’re still in the process of brainstorming ideas of your story, it can help to take a good long look at your characters. Ask yourself, what are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? And how can I use those strengths and weaknesses to create the successes and triumphs of that character’s story arc?
This month’s Beautiful People Meme (hosted by PaperFury and Sky @ Further Up and Further) is all about the Writer’s Process. If you’re a writer looking for a glorious link-up to participate in, head on over to the blog and snag the questions! And if you’re curious about the ins and outs of my writing process, keep reading!
1. How do you decide which project to work on?
A highly scientific process of data collection and cost/benefit determination, of course.
With all this talk about the editing process and organizing a writing binder, it can’t be stated enough that every writer has a different, personal approach to tackling a story. Some like to research extensively before they ever put pen to page; others prefer to shoot through their story, slapping notes like [INSERT FLOWER NAME HERE] for Future!Them to figure out later. (I may or may not be this type of writer, and it may or may not be endlessly frustrating.) Some writers like to have their story meticulously plotted, others like to fly by the seat of their pants. When it comes to writing the actual meat of a story, there seems to be three distinct categories a writer might fall into:
The Straight Shooter, the Moonwalker, and the Jumping Bean.
These writers are like Jon Lovett: straight shooters widely respected on both sides. They begin at the beginning and end at the end, always writing in sequential or chronological order. Chapter One is completed, then Chapter Two, then Chapter Three, and so on. Whether drafting or editing, they stick to the story exactly as it’s meant to be told.
Pros of the Straight Shooter: These writers tend to be well organized, and working in strict sequential order keeps them in the headspace of their story. They get a good feel for how the plot naturally unfolds, traveling with it each step of the way.
Cons of the Straight Shooter: If Chapter Seven is giving the Straight Shooter trouble, it can be very difficult for them to move onto Chapter Eight. (A funny, nagging feeling starts plucking at their brain, oftentimes somewhere behind the right eyeball, and it can be obnoxiously difficult to get rid of–the only known remedy is to cave and go back to Chapter Seven.) They might feel the need to have every chapter in order before they’re “allowed” to move onto the next, and sometimes this can cause major stalls in the writing process.
Hello again, all you happy writers (and editors) out there! As I’m still knee-deep in edits (or neck-deep, or–when exactly am I certifiably drowning?), I’d like to address a problem I’ve been working on with today’s chapter revisions — the dreaded (and constant) use of the phrase “looked at”.
You’re probably familiar with the problem. You picture your scene like a movie playing out in your head, and find yourself inserting “stage directions” into your writing. As each new development occurs, characters swivel around to look at the person speaking, to stare indignantly at their rival, to gaze up at the source of a sound, to glance at a plot point. It all sounded good in your head as you were writing it down, but now that you’re reading the scene over again, the words looked and gazed, glanced and stared appear in almost every. single. sentence. What do you do? How do you keep your characters from constantly looking and staring and glancing and turning towards each other?
Hello, happy writers! How’s your summer treating you? Crushing those word counts? I’m still waist-deep in editing my WIP, and while it’s immensely difficult, I am seeing incremental progress — it’ll all come together eventually, right??? Editing a novel can be overwhelming, especially as you try to keep all your notes and your revised plot outline straight in your head. For every decision you make, there are about a thousand alternate routes the scene or chapter could’ve taken, and it’s a lot to wrap your mind around!
In an effort to take control of
my life this process, I’ve created a Revision Binder — a central hub for all of my notes, a way to track my progress, and a handy tool that offers a quick look at my plot, broken down into key moments.
Come on in, I’ll show you what I’m talking about!
Hello, lovely writers! It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another post about the weird, wonderful world of writing. Lately, as I revise this beast of a novel, I’ve been thinking about where my characters initially came from — and how far they’ve traveled since those original conceptions.
From first draft to tenth (or twentieth, who’s counting), some of my characters have changed gender, changed skintone, changed personality or physicality; some look exactly like my original idea but act nothing like them; and some are exactly the same as they were that first day I put pen to page and gave them life. Interestingly, some that have changed the most from my original mental image were characters that I had initially modeled after a random actor — either because the character itself naturally evolved, or because my interest in that actor, for whatever reason, flatlined, and the character morphed accordingly.
I’m wondering, have you ever based a character on a real person? An actor, maybe, or someone from your real life? Do you find that method more helpful, or more constrictive than creating them from scratch? I’m going to go through those three options below, and unpack my feelings about each a little more.
(Coupled with some peeks of my character aesthetics boards on Pinterest, because I can’t get enough of them, okay?)