Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Tip Wednesday #1

This is a new weekly feature on my blog. Every Wednesday I will feature a writing tip I get out of a book or from an interview or something. Now I never said it was the most amazing writing tip in the world but it will give us something to talk about.

These writing tips will never come from me! What do I know? But I will make my own comments.

Writing Tip Wednesday Tip #1

From Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland

A title should reflect the plot, a character or some aspect of the story, yet it should be unique in itself. It should evoke feelings, stir curiosity and give a hint of the story. If a story is humorous, the title should bring a smile to the lips. If it is a murder mystery, the title should make the reader think of dark and deadly things. Certain words connote female or male readership. For example, girls tend to buy novels with words such as dream and love in the title; boys like words such as weird, freak, horror, and dragon. Books written to appeal to both sexes often have more neutral titles, perhaps based on the name of a character or a famous quote. [...]

If you are having difficulty with your title, try the word association (or branching) technique. In the middle of a sheet of paper write down a key word about the book-- a location, occupation or event. Then draw lines from the central topic and write subcategories. Under each subcategory write every word that comes to mind and then branch off and create further subcategories. Write fast and furiously, listing everything, no matter how silly it may sound. Finally, begin to combine words from the different categories and subcategories. Make a sheet for each main topic that occurs in your story.

I think it's kind of sexist to assume that girls like 'love' in the title and boys like 'dragon'. Haha, dragon. But I'm thinking about older YA readers. Maybe this is more true for middle school readers. I remember when I was in middle school I really liked this book called Falling in Like. So maybe she is right about that!

Titles are one of the best part of reading and writing to me. Most of the time a title comes organically for me, it actually comes first. And then I want to write something just to fit that title. But when I don't get a title right away, oh boy, that's a pain. I actually have a short story I'm working on now that I just cannot title. So maybe I will try that branching technique. I certainly can't hurt.

I definitely judge a book by it's title (and cover). A good title to me is simple but interesting. Like Paper Towns by John Green. Two words, no large syllables but you're like, what's a paper town? And so you're looking at the book jacket with the angry girl or the happy girl. Titles and covers, they go hand in hand don't they? I'm not a big fan of names in the title or a character name as a title. However, sometimes it really works like Lolita. I can't deny that one.

It really sucks when you have to hunt for a title. That makes me nervous.

The book I want to read based just on the title? Five Minutes More by Darlene Ryan.

Bottom line: Titles have to make readers want to read the book.

What are your favorite titles? Post them below.

1 comment:

  1. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I know it's one you either hate or love. I think it's awesome. Never mind the greatness of the content. “To Kill a Mockingbird” – it seems sinister, but with a hint of reproach and a little suspense in it.

    I also like other titles that are in the form of an incomplete clause: “Of Mice and Men”, “An Abundance of Katherines”, that sort of thing.

    I also really like titles with "thief" in them. I haven't read many, but when I see books with "thief" in the title, I really want to read them.

    I like titles with character names. I'm not sure why.