Choosing a Book Title

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When asked how one comes up with a book title, I always want to answer with three simple words: ‘with great difficulty.’

You’re not just choosing a title, you have to find the right one. A catchy one. It proves to be a difficult task, but it is as important as designing the cover (tomorrow’s topic).

Every author uses a different process. Some have a title before they begin, which is where they get the inspiration for the story. Others, like myself, can’t come up with one until they’re done writing. If the book is part of a series, authors may choose similar sounding titles. Mine are not series, but the titles have similarities.

Each has two words. The first, being the name of the protagonist. The second starts with the same letter. Stella’s Plea, Emma’s Prayer, Charlie’s Plight.

I didn’t choose all three at once. In fact, I had no idea they’d all be similar until I finished the second novel. How did I come up with them?

Stella’s Plea deals with a deaf child who disappears, so I wanted it to have something to do with her hands, or with sign language. Try as I may, I couldn’t come up with the right one. Then it hit me. Stella, her mom, is frantically searching for her daughter. She sends out a plea for help. That’s how the title became Stella’s Plea.

Emma’s Prayer is about a teen mom who puts her son up for adoption. Soon she misses him so much, she wants him back. Is it too late? (You’ll have to read it to find out, no spoilers here). Emma also has a lot of heavy duty praying to do, hence, Emma’s Prayer.

Recently I attended a book fair where someone asked me if Emma’s story was a religious book. It isn’t, but because of the word prayer, the reader assumed it might be. I explained it is inspirational, and yes there are references to God in the book, but it isn’t the main focus of the story. Again, no spoilers.

When I finished that second novel, I’d already decided the idea for my next one, and that the main protagonist would be Charlie, a woman with a major dilemma. I called it Charlie’s Plight.

While I use the name of my protagonist in all three titles, there’s a variety of ways in choosing who or what appears in yours. You can use

One of your antagonists,

The major event in your story,

A metaphor,

Or even an expression used by one of your characters.

While the possibilities are endless, if you’re one of those authors who starts with the title to get your inspiration, a Book Title Generator might be the tool that works best for you.

Whether you start or end with the title, I’d like to suggest you research your title idea. There are many great novels out there with similar or identical titles. Like your characters, be creative. Be unique.

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Inspiration…oh where art thou?

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Tired of looking at a blank screen? Your fingers are on the keyboard but refuse to move? Aggravating, isn’t it? I’ve been there. In fact, I think it’s fair to say ALL writers, at some time or another, have been there and done that. 

The first thing I like to do in the morning is ask God to inspire my heart, soul, and mind with His words. That, however, doesnt make me immune to writers block.

We all write differently. Some writers plot their novel ahead of time. They outline scenes and chapters before they begin the task of putting words on paper–or computer. Pantsers, like me, write by the seat of their pants.  

I begin with a one-liner in my head, fifteen to twenty words that tell me what the story’s about. I don’t know how I’m going to go from my opening line to The End, but as long as the words keep flowing, I watch it take shape while my fingers do their fancy dance on the keyboard. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not always. 

What happens when the inspiration you asked for just isn’t there? Is God saying Take a break? It’ll come. 

I like to ask six basic questions. Who did what? How did they do it? When, where, and why? As I answer each one, I watch the scene unfold in my mind’s eyes. It may take a while, but I eventually get there.

Here’s the one-liner for my first novel, Stella’s Plea (don’t worry, no spoiler): Story of a deaf three-year-old child who disappears, and her mother’s struggle to find her. Before I began, I knew the end. Whether or not she’d be found. Dead or alive.

There were times words flowed so well, I couldn’t type fast enough. Other times, my mind was as blank as the screen in front of me. Even asking all the above questions didn’t help. What could I do? 

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I had two options. I could sit there and wait for something to pop in my mind. That could take a while. OR, I could walk away. Even though I wanted to write but couldn’t come up with anything. Oftentimes, it worked.

Now, that’s what I do. Not for long, mind you. I do a few stretches and walk around. I might go to the kitchen to refill my glass of water, or maybe walk down to the ‘man cave’ to see what hubby’s watching on TV. Why not start supper listening to the music in the background?

No matter what, though, before I sit at the computer, I love to start with prayer. That’s where my inspiration comes from. He might enlighten me through something I see when I walk past the window. What I hear on the radio, or see on TV? That inspiration might be what I need to go back and pick up where I left off. Until He says something, I stay away.

How do you stop writer’s block? Where do you get your inspiration? Leave a comment below.

Where Do You Get Your Writing Prompts?

Writing contests…here comes my manuscript! These past couple of months, I’ve been so wrapped up with finishing the re-writes of my first manuscript, I’ve neglected this blog.

I must admit however, that it was an awesome feeling when I printed the first 50 pages for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award contest, and put that in the mail on May 13.

And what a feeling it was when I finished the re-writes for the remainder of that novel (thanks Stella). I’m now ready to print the whole manuscript and it’s off to Word Alive Press for their publishing contest. Both contests will announce their winners at the end of August and I really look forward to it. Keeping my fingers crossed for both.

Now, I’m ready to start my next story. I have what I think is a great idea and I can’t wait to write it. I know however, it’ll take a lot of work and research because the main protagonist is a teenager with autism. Then again, writing is a lot of work. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Autism is a subject I know very little about. I have to hit the books / internet before I can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I found interesting books on the subject, but the biggest eye opener for me so far was the movie Temple Grandin; the story of an autistic woman who become a scientist in the humane livestock handling industry. I watched it, was moved to tears, and I wanted to see it again! I am still awed by it. (Deb, thank you so much for suggesting it). This past week, I called the video store and asked if I could buy the copy I rented. He said yes, and I bought it!

I didn’t really understand what autism was and there are so many different spectrums of it, I had no idea what to expect with this movie. But now, I can’t wait to start my second novel.

The strange thing is though, I have no idea what prompted me to write about autism. Sure, I heard about it before but I can’t say I really knew anything about it until I saw the Temple Grandin movie. And even now, I still don’t know much.

Yet for some reason, I just pictured Brody (main character in my novel) sitting on his bed rocking back and forth, whispering “no! no! no!” as he listens to his father and step-mother in the other room, screaming at each other in the middle of the night.

Sometimes as I write, something I read in a book or saw on TV will come to mind, and it seems, for the moment, like a great idea for my “next move”. I  may or may not keep that idea as the story progresses. Other ideas come from asking someone (usually my dear sweet husband who watches a lot more TV than I do) what he thinks I should do next. He is full of ideas, and I sometimes want to slap his name on the cover when the book goes to print because many of these ideas are his. Sure, I wrote and developed them but they were his ideas in the first place.

Here’s a sneak peek into what I started to write :

Brody lives in a verbally abusive household. His father is a heavy drinker, and when he’s not screaming at or putting Brody down, it’s his wife who gets ‘the blunt end of the stick’ so to speak. Brody decides he’s had enough and runs away in search of his mother. He meets another runaway and . . .

Enough said.  You’ll have to read about it when the book comes out if you wish to know what happens.

Now I need to ask you:

Where do you get your ideas about writing? How do you get inspired? Does it just “happen”, pop in your mind? Is it something you read? Saw on TV?

Please share.

Blessings

Renee-Ann