Writing Process Blog Hop!

Last week fellow writer and blogger, Jay Dee Archer from I Read Encyclopedias tagged me for an interesting little blog hop about the writing process.ย  The questions are based around your current writing projects and process, which I thought was really fun and informative. I always enjoy hearing from other writers about what works for them and what they’re working on, so of course I had to take part in this particular hop. Please feel free to check out Jay’s entry when you’re finished with mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo 2-8-2014, 11 10 24 AMWhat Am I Working On?

The obvious answer would be the zombie apocalypse novel that I should be working through the final edits on instead of writing this post. But, since most of you have already heard about that often enough, I thought I’d talk instead about the project that I’m going to be working on as soon as the aforementioned edits are complete and out of my hair.

My next project is going to be something that I’ve been working on for a decade, but is going to have me pretty much starting back from scratch. I’ve mentioned this particular piece before, but for those who don’t know, the tentatively titled “Parallels” is the story of a young woman who, during a tumultuous time in her life, is transported to a parallel world and tasked with saving that world from an ancient evil. Back when I first started writing this story it was just a bit of cathartic fun to help get myself through a rough patch, but it grew and grew until I began to have visions of this epic story. Throughout the years I wrote and rewrote, changed the story, massacred the plot-line again and again, and eventually found myself with something that was a heck of a lot different than what I began with. In the past year or so I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on this particular piece, and I’ve had a lot of fun and came up with a lot of good ideas, but now it’s time for a truly big change. I am planning to begin the story over again, right from the beginning, as a young adult series. Because of the structure of the plot and the “A to B to C to D”-style goals involved with the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Parallels” would be much better set as a series than a single novel. I suspect that it will end up being six parts, based on the goal style mentioned, and I think that chopping it up in this manner will greatly improve the overall readability and enjoyability of the story.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

This is actually a really hard question. I guess, in one sense, it differs from other works because at the core of the story is a creation built of my own personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Speaking from a more general standpoint, I’ve had people who have read bits of the story tell me that I have a fairly unique writing “voice”, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Aside from those two points I’m not really certain that I can answer this question without giving away any major points of the story.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

Whether it’s horror, fantasy, adventure, fan fiction, personal stories, or anything else, I write what I enjoy writing, and what I personally would enjoy reading. I’ve been reading scores of books since I was in grade school, so while I may not be the most talented writer in the world, I know what is fun, enjoyable, and captivating. I aim to write those kinds of books. I try to write the kinds of things that I love to read, like the horror scenes that make you squirm with discomfort, or the love scenes that makes your skin feel hot. If reading my own writing creates those kinds of reactions in myself, then I’m confident that it’ll create excellent reactions in others, and that’s my big overall goal.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

The writing “process” for me is something that I’ve been struggling with since things other than reading and writing began to become important to me. When I was young I could literally sit for hours with a notebook and a pen and just write, write, write, but as I grew and began to enjoy other things, gather responsibilities, and change in numerous ways, it became harder to convince myself to spend that kind of time on my writing. These days my process is a bit of a hodgepodge mess of pantsing and panicking.

I’ve managed to bring some little bit of order to my writing life over the past couple of years via this blog. The desire to have a successful blog/author platform has driven me to keep returning to write posts on a five-day-a-week basis regardless of what else I have going on in my life. In the past year I have missed only a handful of days, and most of those were due to extraordinary circumstances. Blogging is my rock, the thing that makes me think of my writing as a bit of a job, and keeps me putting words to paper/computer screen.

Unfortunately that seems to be where any semblance of organization and dedication stop dead. I write sporadically, not on any kind of schedule. I very very rarely plan anything out in advance, instead opting to write from the cuff as the words and ideas come to my head. Sometimes I will write random scenes as they come to me, but for the most part I feel the need to write things in order, and I’ve been known to rewrite entire pieces from the beginning because one plot problem or inconsistency bugged me.

I’m a disorganized artist, and I don’t think I’ll ever be anything else, but as long as I get the writing done, that’s all that really matters, right?

Tag People!

I’m going to follow Jay’s example on this one, and tag those people who have commented the most on my blog and who also happen to be writers. So, L. Palmer, Tom Slatin, and Djinnia, consider yourself tagged! No pressure to participate, but if you do please link back here and let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

To Transcribe, or Not to Transcribe?

As I mentioned on Tuesday, this week I have a mini-goal to wrack up enough of a word count to bring my yearly total thus far to 200,000. As such I’ve been doing everything I can to get words down. I’ve been blogging (obviously), doing morning pages via 750Words.com, and repairing scenes in my supernatural romance. What I haven’t been doing is writing anything new.

Here’s my problem: since I’ve been home from out West, I’ve only been writing on my laptop. I type a helluva lot faster than I write by hand, so it only makes sense to use that speed. But for months now I’ve been writing in notebooks; thousands of words of long-hand.

So. Many. Words.
So. Many. Words.

Why is that a problem? Well, I have tons of my works-in-progress in notebooks…none of it on my laptop. For instance, I have the first four chapters of my epic fantasy novel on my laptop, then about a dozen chapters in notebooks. So if I want to continue on with that work-in-progress, I either have to skip a bunch of chapters in my Scrivener file in order to move on, or take the time to transcribe all the notebooks onto my laptop

Maybe I’m alone in this, but it would drive me absolutely insane to move on with the story without most of what I’ve written actually being in the Scrivener file. It’s just one of those things. I’d absolutely lose my mind. But on the other side of things, it will take me ages to transcribe everything that I’ve written in notebooks, and that will be time that I could have spent writing something else and wracking up word count. I suppose I could count word

s transcribed as words written, but that feels like cheating, since they’re technically words I’ve already written.

So I leave it to you, fellow bloggers and readers: should I take the time to transcribe, or move on to something else? If I take the time

transcribe, should I count the words toward my word count or not? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 29

Before I get on with the accountability today, I want to mention a couple of things.

First, a huge hug to the new followers I’ve been getting on this blog and on Twitter. I’m not sure exactly what I’ve been doing lately that suddenly has people sneaking in out of the shadows toward my sites, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Welcome, thanks for coming, and I hope you stick around! ๐Ÿ™‚

Second, on a whim I recently tried Googling myself, and I was quite amused to find that the first three results were actually me. I rather don’t need my 9gag profile popping up on Google, but I was happy to see that the second result was this blog and the third was my 750Words.com account. It’s a good sign when your real persona pops up on Google, right?

Third: a call out for info and/or advice. I’ve Googled this problem many times but I can never seem to find anything that quite matches my issue. I’ve been having trouble sleeping again (it seems to happen for several weeks at a time, a few times a year), and the issue as far as I can describe it is that I spend an inordinate amount of time in dream sleep (REM sleep), meaning that my rest isn’t, well…restful. I’m waking up feeling like hell even when I sleep 9 or more hours, and it’s very wearing. I’ve consulted my doctor before and his only suggestion was to try antidepressants, which I thought was a little silly and insulting since I’m pretty damn confident that I’m not depressed. So since I can’t seem to find any information on my own, I thought I’d ask here on the off-chance someone may know something or suffer from similar. Help?

Okay, on to the accountability.

Health and Body Image Goal

If I’m totally honest, I’ve plummeted miserably on this one. I’ve been doing no form of exercise and have been eating rather terribly. It doesn’t help that I’m experiencing sleep issues, as mentioned above. I keep trying to convince myself to get up a little early in the mornings (before it’s scorching hot out) and do my zombie runs, but I haven’t been able to manage it because I’m so damn tired. I need some motivation, terribly, and that’s a fact.

Editing Goal

It’s been a surprisingly busy week so I haven’t managed to sit down at my laptop for very long periods of time, but I’m still (slowly) plugging away at my supernatural romance. Really, really looking forward to finishing so I can submit it to a publisher and move on to my zombie apocalypse.

1,000,000 Word Goal

It hasn’t been a great week, but I did manage to get a few words in. Between blogging and a return to 750Words, I managed to get in 4802 words this week. I’m hoping to ramp it up this week through a series of ideas I’ve compiled, one of which is to use 750Words.com in the mornings to empty my brain of the dreams I’m plagued with every night. It might be a pro-bono situation…I get extra words, and maybe writing down the dreams will make them go the hell away. Starting this Sunday, as well, I plan to start reading The Artist’s Way and work my way through the 12-week process, so look forward to that.

29 weeks down, 23 to go. Here’s hoping the remaining 23 start to look up a little!

It’s a Bug’s Life

I have a confession to make. I can hide it no longer. I am a Clutter-Bug.

What the hell is a Clutter-Bug, you ask? Well, what does it sound like? My life and my mind are filled with clutter. Mountains of it.

Don’t mistake me for a hoarder, although material possessions are a little bit of the problem. Physically I do have a lot of hoarder-type clutter around my house. I have an entire shelf on my bookcase that is nothing but blank notebooks I’ve never used, and there’s a whole stack of drawers in the dining room that are filled with good old fashioned junk, like rubber-band balls and dead pens. I have a bit of a hard time throwing stuff away, even when I know there’s no point in keeping them.

But the type of clutter that I’m talking about is the kind that distracts, the kind that disguises itself as disorganization and generally messiness. There are almost always clothes on my bedroom floor, for instance, even though we have a hamper in there. I leave my phone, my tablet, and my Playstation Vita wherever I happen to be when I’m finished using them. There are books on top of my headboard that I haven’t touched in weeks. There are boxes of baby clothes sitting in my hall that I simply haven’t bothered to put away, even though it would take five minutes to cart them down into the basement.

I seem to have a mental block that consistently keeps me from ever putting anything away, thus cluttering up my house. It’s an illness. A terrible, debilitating illness.

But it goes further than that, because clutter can be mental as well.

For instance, in my closet there is a huge stack of jeans taking up a good three square feet of space. None of them fit. They vary between being a size or two off to being so tiny that I would have to get liposuction and a stomach staple to ever have a chance of fitting in them again. And not only are these jeans clutter in the literal sense of taking up space and never being used, they’re clutter in the mental sense because I have to think of them every time I look at them. Every time I open my closet I see this stack of jeans and they make me miserable just for the sheer fact that I know I can’t fit into them. I know I could fit into them if I worked really hard and restricted my calories and stuck to a daily exercise regimen and completely stopped drinking anything other than water and so on and so on and so on…you see? Mental clutter.

Most people do this kind of thing to themselves to some extent, but I, my friends, am an expert. I am the Queen Clutter-Bug. May all lesser Clutter-Bugs bow before me.

Original pic via photoalbum.davison.ca
Original pic via photoalbum.davison.ca

For another example, I have this habit I call “self-fulfilling failure to fulfill”. Basically, I have a mental list in my head of all the things I want to do, or need to do, and no matter how many things I am able to cross off the list I manage to add twice as many more. In this way my list is never complete, and my internal list-maker starts twitching like a drugged-up jackrabbit. It doesn’t matter if I’m working my ass off or sitting back and trying to relax, I have this never-ceasing mental clutter of half-finished to-do lists gumming up my brain.

It’s a horrifying condition for a writer because while I should be writing and working on my platform, I’m instead obsessing about a million other things. I can’t get any writing done around my husband or daughter because I’m so easily distracted by everything they say or do. I can’t get any writing done in my own bedroom because I can’t stop thinking about that basket of clothes on the floor or those damn jeans in my closet. When I do get around to writing I’m plagued by a thousand non-work-in-progress-related thoughts like whether I should be planning some blog posts in advance to give myself more time, or whether I should scrap this fan fiction stuff and just concentrate on my original work, or should I log onto Twitter and see what the other writers are doing? It’s a constant barrage of voices in my head yelling at me about everything except what I’m supposed to be writing about.

“Why aren’t you more active on Twitter? How do you expect to gain followers when you never say anything interesting?”

“Why are you focusing so much on this stupid supernatural romance stuff…it will probably just ruin your image for when the zombie horror novel is done.”

“Oh crap, did I write a blog post for tomorrow? Crap, I didn’t… Crap crap crap!”

It spirals on and on, until I have so many thoughts in my head that I can’t pick out any one particular one. And then I get very, very tired. Queen Clutter-Bug begins to slow down. She crawls into a dark spot and the other Clutter-Bugs swarm around and begin to eat her.

Image via science.kqed.org
Original image via science.kqed.org

But there is hope! Or so I’m told. There are cures for rampant Clutter-Bug-ism, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and – if you’re a particular kind of person – alcohol. Scour the internet and you will find a million different suggestions for calming the shouting voices in your brain, the ones that keep you from ever being calm or satisfied. There are methods, if only one chooses to seek them out.

Or if you’re like me you can find your own release; little joys that keep you from going utterly insane. How do I dispel Queen Clutter-Bug? I do things that are completely against her nature. I purposely pick something that I know is material clutter and I toss it in the trash, sighing pleasurably all the while. I snuggle up with my daughter and watch cartoons – great brain-blanking animations that somehow keep your mind from thinking about anything else. I watch B-movies with my husband – films so absurdly terrible that you can’t help but just sit and laugh the world away.

My methods may not be ideal, nor might they work at all for someone else with similar Clutter-Buginess issues. But we all must deal with our issues in our own way, and for me these things are Clutter-Bug Raid.

Which reminds me, my mile-long mental list includes spraying some Clutter-Bug Raid. Excuse me, I really must get to that ASAP.

5 Reasons You Should Be Writing Fan Fiction

As I mentioned yesterday in my accountability post, for the next little while I’m setting aside my work-in-progress and picking up my Final Fantasy III/VI novelization fan fiction. Now here’s the thing… There are a lot of writers (and readers) out there who think very poorly of fan fiction. They think its not “real” writing, or they associate it with a bunch of creepy, sweaty fanboys/girls sitting in a dark room, plucking out a wish fulfillment fantasy where a disturbingly perfect character who just so happens to have their exact name gets it on with Buffy or Edward Cullen, or one of the My Little Ponies (*wigged-out-shudder*). And yes, that stuff does exist, and there’s a special place for it far, far away from me, but there is also a lot of good fan fiction out there if you care to look for it, and I personally believe that fan fiction serves several very important purposes in the writing community.

1. It gives you a break and let’s you enjoy writing for a while.
Even those of us who love writing with all out heart and soul want to smash our computer against a wall and/or burn all our notebooks every now and then. Things happen (writer’s block, bad critiques, lost work that wasn’t backed up, etc) that enrage us and make us want to give up on writing forever. That’s where fan fiction can be helpful; it’s easy (because the world is already created for you), it’s fun (because you get to write your favorite characters), and it keeps you moving forward. You might even find, while writing fan fiction, that you come up with a great idea to continue that original fiction you so recently considered tossing off a cliff. Seriously, give it a try…you might find that writing a bit of fan fiction considerably lowers your writing-related stress.

2. It gives you practice and let’s you get the “bad” out.
Yes, I’ll admit it, a lot of the fan fiction out there is beyond awful. But have you ever heard that oft-repeated adage: “Practice makes perfect”? Lame, perhaps, but true. No one ever wrote a masterpiece on their very first try. With the vast, near limitless options to toy with, fan fiction offers you that ability to keep practicing and practicing and practicing, which can only help you become better. Scrawling fan fiction helps you to get down your bad writing, see that it’s bad, and then make it better. Any writing will do this, of course, but fan fiction makes it easier because instead of struggling with your one story over and over again, or constantly wracking your brain to come up with new ideas, you can just jump in someone else’s sandbox and play away.

3. You can just jump in someone else’s sandbox and play away.
Some people say that nothing worth doing is easy. I beg to differ. Yes, effort is a big deal and most things in life are going to be difficult, but sometimes, to keep ourselves from going mad, we have to find the easy out. Fan fiction is that in spades. This is a whole world that has already been created for you, with established characters who have already had tons of work put into them. All you have to do is think of something for them to be doing. That’s it. Play away. Have some fun! Explore! As children this is how we learn and grow, but as adults we forget the importance of real play. Take a page out of the book of babies and toddlers and learn via good old fun and exploration!

4. The community is extremely powerful.
There are lots of websites out there for sharing fan fiction, but the one in particular that I use is FanFiction.net. It’s a great site with a great community, and chances are if you share something there someone is going to find it, read it, and comment on it, and that is pure gold for a writer. We crave feedback, even if its not necessarily good feedback. We want to know, at the very least, that someone is reading. Fan fiction is wonderful for this because of the vast numbers of people who enjoy it. For example, years back I wrote a Harry Potter fan fiction featuring the Marauders. I finished that story years ago, and to this day I get the occasional review landing in my inbox. It might not sound like much, but a single review on a story you wrote ages ago can really mean a lot when you’re currently struggling with your current works. Community is important to keep a writer sane and moving forward, and the fan fiction community is a surprisingly strong one.

5. It keeps you writing.
When you’re a writer (or you aspire to be) actually writing is the most important thing to do. In this brave new world of writing conventions, social media, and author platforms, writers tend to forget that the real deal is putting words to paper. Fan fiction helps with this. Any kind of writing – even the creepy kind I mentioned earlier that I have a restraining order out against – is worth doing if it keeps you putting words to paper. There is no writer without the process of writing, so whatever you can write to keep that process moving forward is a good thing to write.

So now that I’ve thoroughly convinced you, what are you waiting for? Fan fiction could be just the thing you need! I know it’s what I need right now, so I’ll see you all on the other side of a new chapter of Returning Hope.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 20

You know what I hate? Like, really, full-on, have-to-hold-myself-back-from-flying-into-a-rage hate? People at airports hocking credit cards. It’s not just the fact that I don’t like having crap hocked at me, or that I find it incredibly annoying when I’m rushing toward my gate and someone starts shouting interest rates at me, although those things are part of it. No, what I really hate is the insufferable persistence. Even if its not me they’re talking to, I loathe hearing a credit card salesperson continue spewing their spiel when the poor patron they’re annoying has already said “no thanks” half a dozen times. I know it’s their job, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking of them as the rudest pieces of crap in existence.

That’s why, today, when I noticed one of these people being particularly persistent and annoying with everyone who walked past, I happily walked close enough to be hailed and then proceeded to pretend I was deaf. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite so amusing as the look on a rude arsehole’s face when he realizes he can’t communicate with you. Made my travel day right there. Ha!

Anyway, I suppose I’ve got some accountability stuff to get out of the way? Okay, let’s do it.

Health and Body Image Goal
Okay, it’s a new week. I tend to eat a lot of salads while I’m out West and it looks like the weather is going to be great for jogging, so we’re on the right track for the follow days. What about last week, you ask? Don ask about last week. Last week was…decadent. Or maybe slovenly is a better word. Gimmi a break, I was busy with heavy trash pickup and Spring cleaning!

Editing Goal
I haven’t figured out a better method yet, but for the time being I’ve got a few dozen more pages printed out to work on. I glanced over them on one of the planes out here, so I’ve got an idea of where I’m headed. Again, if anyone has any ideas about how I can make editing a little easier than constantly dragging piles of printouts back and forth across the country with me, please share!

1,000,000 Word Goal
It wasn’t a great week due to the aforementioned heavy trash and Spring cleaning, but I did manage to squeak out 2287 words worth of blog entries. My plan for the coming weeks is I temporarily set aside my work-in-progress (on which I’ve been having a butt-load of writer’s block) and spend a little time concentrating on something easier and more fun: my Final Fantasy III/VI novelization, which I’ve been posting bits of during Fiction Fragment Fridays. So look forward to more of that!

And now, if you don’t mind, I have one 2-hour bus ride left before I land in camp and I plan to spend it reclined and listening to some classic rock (i.e. “ZZZzzzzzz…..”)

The Trick is to do it Sneakily…

Despite the fact that I currently have no fewer than four projects on the go (not counting the manuscript I’m in the process of editing) I have recently had one hell of a case of writer’s block. On new than a couple of days I found myself staring at my notebook for hours, unable to come up with the words. Even worse, when I did find words they were terrible ones. The bits that I was managing to get onto paper were making me gag.

It was with that gag reflex in tow that I found myself searching the Internet for ideas on battling that great evil we know as writer’s block. I skipped past a number of ideas and suggestions before landing on a list of writing exercises, on which I found a simple prospect: observe the world around you right now…describe it in as much detail as possible.

I whipped out my pen and notebook and began immediately, but soon found my pen stalling. While an interesting idea, it wasn’t exactly exciting to describe an industrial control room…it’s pretty much just desks and computers. But then I got a different idea…I glanced at the coworker to my left and began describing him: his face, his clothes, his mannerisms…whatever I could see or knew from having talked to him. Then I moved on to the next coworker and the next. I wrote everything I knew about them or could see by a quick glance in their direction. I wrote about the bosses and the secretary. I wrote about the field technicians who came in the discuss issues. I wrote about the engineers we share the building with. I wrote thoroughly and honestly. Over the course of three days I wrote over 3000 words just on descriptions of the people around me at work.

I thought this turned out to be an excellent exercise for two reasons. For one, character descriptions is something that is difficult to get right when writing fiction, since you want your reader to be picturing the character the way you do, but you don’t want to bore them to death by ranting on and on about physical details and personality traits. I found over the course of this exercise I slowly got more information in while being more succinct. The other reason is that when I was finished with my exercise I found myself presented with approximately two dozen perfectly viable characters. Names would have to be changed, to protect me from my own brutal honesty, but other than that I now have a small smorgasbord of possible characters to choose from the next time I need a new addition to one of my stories.

What do you think? Does my exercise sound like a worthwhile one? Will you give it a try? Or have you done something similar before? Please share! ๐Ÿ™‚

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 14

It’s the best time of the month. I’m boarding the bus to go to my last day of work for the shift, and that shift is only six hours long. What could be better?

Well, a lot of things, I’m sure, but still, I’m in a pretty damn good mood. And I’m not going to let Accountability Tuesday ruin it for me! Dammit! ๐Ÿ˜›

Health and Body Image Goal
I’ve been having a very difficult time on the exercise front, which I hope will be at least partly reduced once the Albertan sun starts coming up earlier. I’ve just been so tired and it really doesn’t seem as though there are enough hours in the day! That said, I have been doing fairly well with food intake over the past few days. Making salads, eating egg whites, all that kind of thing. Mind you all of that is likely to go to hell when my flight lands in Nova Scotia, but at least this week was good. ๐Ÿ˜›

Editing Goal
There’s not a great deal to report, although I’ve finally actually gotten going. It’s a slow process because I haven’t done any in such a while that I’m still more or less trying to remember what’s happening and what I want to fix. But baby steps are still steps, right? Right.

1,000,000 Word Goal
I had planned to go nuts this week, and that didn’t really happen as I’d hoped because work got ridiculously busy, but it was still a decent week. Between a combination of my work in progress, blogging, and a little love story that became as the result of a writing exercise, I wrote 9174 words past week. Adding to the couple of extra days that weren’t part of last week that means I’m up to 10877 words for Camp NaNoWriMo so far! Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some good old fashioned happiness to get to. Be home in less than 24 hours before I’m home, baby girl!

Contesting Your Writing

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginโ€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

99. Writing Contests

To be perfectly honest, it hasn’t been such a long time since I first discovered that the world of writing contests actually existed. Mind you, I knew of the concept of writing contests, but I didn’t realize it was such big business, so to speak. Do a quick search on Google and you will find sites upon sites upon sites toting contests for those brave enough to submit a piece of work. There are contests for short stories, contests for poems, contests for drabbles, contests for every type of genre. There are fun contests amongst fellow writers and serious contests with prizes and/or publication on the line. There really is no way any one writer could even consider them all, never mind enter them all.

Personally I haven’t been able to pluck up the courage to enter any such contests yet, but for those who might be interested I offer this little nugget of advice: research the contest first. Anything with prizes, in particular, is likely to have a laundry list of rules, terms and conditions, and possible sneaky ways to bite you in the ass. A contest from a publisher, for example, may have a clause hidden in the terms and conditions that states that the publisher retains legal rights to reprint your submission without compensation. I’ve heard a few horror stories about things like this, so I urge you, do your homework before submitting to a contest.

And if I ever do pluck up the courage to enter one myself, I promise you will all be the first ones to know!

Titular First Impressions….Titular…*snerk*

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnaginโ€™s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

98. Choosing a title.

There are many aspects to writing that are difficult, frustrating, and sometimes downright miserable. Choosing a title is not one of those things. Oh no. Choosing a title is so, so much worse.

The title of a book is the most immediate of first impressions. It (along with the cover of the book) is the first thing a prospective reader will see, and with that in mind, you have to determine what exactly you want that reader to think when they first look at your book. A terrible title could completely destroy a book’s chances of being picked up, browsed through, purchased, and read. Imagine, for a moment, some alternative titles for your favorite books. Would you honestly have picked up that same book if it had had a ridiculous title? Can you imagine purchasing The Lord of the Rings, for example, if you knew nothing of it beforehand and it’s title was actually A Really Long Journey? What if The Chronicles of Narnia had been titled, Stories About Another World? What if Dracula had been titled, A Very Old Vampire?

These are extreme(ly silly) examples, of course, but never-the-less, you must agree that many an attitude can rapidly change about the readability of a book if you fail to title it properly.

Take, for example, my current work-in-progress, Parallels. This story, at it’s heart, is about a young woman who is pulled into an alternate universe – a parallel world, if you will – and discovers that she has been drawn there to save it from an ancient evil. I began writing this particular story almost ten years ago. It is the work that I’ve mentioned before…the one that I’ve re-written so many times that I’ve never gotten anywhere near to finishing it. When I first started this story, it was my intention that the world the woman comes from and the one she travels to would be very different, but also have many parallels between them. It was my intention that as she travelled along on her journey she would regularlty become confronted with people and places that mirrored the world she grew up in, which would force her to confront many personal issues. However, as the story evolved, was rewritten, changed numerous times, and eventually became the piece I’m working on today, that no longer became the root of the story. Yes, the two worlds are still parallels, but not nearly as much so as I had originally imagined. There are only a handful of these parallels left in the story I’m writing now, and that got me thinking that perhaps the title didn’t make much sense. Then I started really thinking and it occurred to me that even if the title did make sense, it’s really not a very catchy title at all, is it? Tell me truthfully now, if you were browsing through the fantasy section of your local book store and came across a book with the word “Parallels” emblazoned across the cover, would it catch you? Draw you in? Would you even notice it?

Now perhaps some of you can say yes to these questions. Perhaps even many of you can. But that is the hell an author has to go through when choosing a title : relentlessly wondering if it’s the right one.

Now maybe the title will just come to you and you’ll know, inside, that it’s the right one. Maybe you won’t even be given the chance because your publisher will retain the right to title your work as they wish (does this happen? I honestly don’t know). Or maybe you’ll be talking about your book someday and someone will say, “You know what you should call it?”, and it will be the greatest title ever and you’ll hug them and kiss them and be their best friend forever.

But chances are you’ll be like me, bashing your head off a wall, thinking about what a stupid title you’ve chosen and desperately wracking your brain for another. Many people have a very difficult time choosing a name for their baby. It is really no different for an author naming their book. So think about it hard, consider all the angles, and when you figure out the best method for making your final decision, please feel free to come back to this blog and let me know.