Friday, June 17, 2016

Navigating the Tough Maze of Titles

  Whenever I read the titles of some of the books, I’m quite green with envy. The titles are simply mindblowing. They are not just intriguing, they also convey the essence of the story.

 I wonder how the writers, or maybe it’s the editors of the publishing houses who come up with these awesome titles, do it.

Once upon a long time back I hated giving my stories and features (I write features for several newspapers) titles. If I gave titles they would be boring and dull. The editors always changed my story titles.

My journalism teacher in college would always complain that my features were very interesting but not the titles. She constantly urged me to choose better titles for my articles and features. According to her my titles never did my writing justice. She would say, “Coming up with catchy titles is an art that every writer must master. People read articles based on titles. Boring titles show that the feature may also be boring. Catchy titles are useful in attracting people’s attention. Titles should be engaging, catchy and interesting.”

This habit of coming up with mediocre titles followed me when I started writing for newspapers. Often the titles of the features and stories I sent were changed. And changed for the better.

I constantly wondered how other writers came up with such awesome and amazing titles. Jealousy and envy stabbed my heart whenever I read their titles. Days later when I discussed this with a writing friend, she agreed. She too was tortured by titles. But her advice was something I just loathed. “I never give titles for my stories, the editor will anyway change it. So why waste time?”

To become title savvy, I pondered over the titles of the books I read. Did it suit the story? Was it a perfect match? Slowly I transferred this detailed attention onto my work. What was I trying to tell my readers? What was the article/book all about? How could I sum up the work in a few words? What was the best way to convey what I had written? Which words correctly describe my story?

 It was a tedious task, but eventually I got the hang of it. Nowadays the title trauma no longer affects me. For the past several years, the editors have thankfully retained most of my titles.

What about you all? Do Titles Trouble and Torment you? Or, are you the lucky ones who come up with winners? Do you have any title tips that you would like to share?

P.S. My next post will be on 6th July as IWSG co-host

Friday, June 10, 2016

Should chapters be of the same length?

Some time back, one of my writing friends who had taken the independent publishing route as most of the agents had turned down her book, told me while chatting online, that she was adjusting her chapters. I asked her what did that mean. She said she was making sure that all the chapters are of equal length.

I was stunned. For my two previous manuscripts, I hadn’t paid attention to this detail. Infact, if you ask me, I won’t even be able to tell you the word count for the chapters or the number of pages for each chapter. I just know that the prankster book has long chapters and the book about a boy and a magic spirit has short chapters. But whether the chapters are of equal length or not, I won’t be able to tell.
I don’t pay much attention to chapter lengths. Neither while writing my books nor while reading someone elses. I am more interested in ensuring that the chapters end on a suspense or cliff-hanger mode. I also love giving each chapter a title.

For the current manuscript I’m writing, I worked on this detail. I’ve just completed  the first draft, so it’s going to undergo a seismic change. I have ensured all the chapters fall in the 1200-1700 words range (that’s the best I could do).

I checked the chapters of the book I am currently reading. The chapters are all of unequal lengths. I was thrilled to see that I’m not alone where unequal chapters are concerned.

I’m sure no editor or agent will reject a manuscript because one chapter is longer than the other.

Should we worry about chapter lengths? Do you think unequal chapters can hamper a book? Any advice will be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG Post - No Insecurities this month

I just can’t believe it that we are in the sixth month of the year. That this will be my sixth IWSG post of the year. 2016 is racing by faster than the previous years. Someone please ask it to slow down as I have so much to do this year. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group is a online group of writers, we post on the first Wednesday of every month. In our posts we discuss all our writing related worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities. Other writers who share similar worries help us out with their advice and tips. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. To read the other IWSG posts, click here.

For starting this wonderful group, we must thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars). Alex is a super musician, an amazing blogger, a wonderful human and a brilliant writer (psstt…there is nothing this magician can’t do).

This month I’m not going to crib and grumble, but I’m going to celebrate my small achievement. The reason I’m doing this is because I want to inspire other writers to push their writing muscle. Not only have I written for a different age group but also a different genre.

I finally finished the first draft of my first adult novel. YES, I DID IT. It took me two months (I started the novel on 1st April), I diligently wrote 1000 words a day and by 31st May I have nearly 60,000 words. Now I’ll leave it aside for a few weeks and work on two other books.

I will be working on an illustrated book (the publisher has since shut down its operations and I have claimed back the rights, the publisher has specifically asked me not to use the illustrations and only the text) to rework it in a chapter book format, and I will also be working on another manuscript I had abandoned a few years back. I had written around 23,000 words.

With the help of my Picture Book critique partner Laura Renauld, I have also revised two picture books. Yes, I am keeping myself super busy and all this has been accomplished because I have given myself a strict writing schedule of 1K words a day. If I missed a day’s word count, then the next day it would become 2K words. That was the only way to do it.

How have your past few months been writing wise? Are you stretching your writing muscles?