Draw readers in with a title that demands engagement
Story titles are important. They’re also the WORST.
I’ve written elsewhere about how a title change was an instrumental part of the overhaul that took one of my decades-old short stories from an unpublishable mess to an acceptance by the first place I submitted it in its revised form. It wasn’t the only major change, of course, but it was significant. A story’s title is its identity, distilled into a single line. Which is not to say that a boring title automatically equals a boring story, but it’s certainly not pulling its weight. And there’s no room for slacking off in those critical first few sentences.
But some stories simply refuse to be named. (Which is how they end up being called The Doll for almost 30 years… but I digress.) So if you’ve found yourself faced with such an unreasonable narrative, here are some tips and tricks for finding the perfect title to intrigue, inspire and entice your readers.
It might not make you money but fanfiction has a value all of its own
Remember that kerfuffle on Twitter a few years back? Where someone tweeted about how fanfiction makes writers worse at writing* and basically the entire #writingcommunity blew up her mentions with tales of exactly why that wasn’t true? I was still on the bird site in those days and I proudly joined the chorus of writers pushing back against the suggestion that fanfiction = bad. Because I’ve seen first hand how the opposite holds true.
Hi, I’m Rachael and I write fanfic. And no, I’m absolutely not going to tell you my pseudonym, but I am going to tell you how it made my writing better. And it’s such an easy win that if you are in any way tempted by the prospect of playing in somebody else’s universe, I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a go. Here’s why
Make 2023 your best writing year yet by avoiding these obstacles
I don’t really hold with New Year’s resolutions. I reckon they’re a bit like waiting for the Ideal Time To Write™ – i.e. a useful tool for futurising, but not for actually Doing The Thing. But new years are about new beginnings, and if you’ve been struggling to move forward with your work in progress, or wanting to start a new project but never quite settling on a way in, there’s something very satisfyingly decisive about the end of one year and the start of another for getting your game face on. So, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution to vaguely “write more,” how about using the blank slate of 2023 to take a look at what might have been holding you back.
Most of these pitfalls happen to most writers at least some of the time, but, as I said in the last post, we’re often quite good at rationalising them away in favour of some other reason why we absolutely, positively, cannot in any way be to blame for the fact that we’re not meeting our writing goals. Hey, we’re creatives. Telling stories is what we do. Doesn’t help get the novel written, though, so if more focused work on your writing is the target, it may help to check in and see if any of the following apply to you.
Read on for the three Ds of writerly procrastination…
Encountering writing resistance as you approach the end of your novel – and what to do about it
Well, NaNoWriMo is over for another year. If you’ve been taking part this time around, and even if you haven’t, you might find yourself in the very healthy position now of having an absolute boatload of words written for your novel, and maybe you’re even closing in on the climax.
And now all of a sudden you’re having doubts.
3-dimensional characters are essential to any good story. Just don’t forget about the villain*.
When it comes to writing fiction that grabs the reader and catapults them into the world you’ve created, the most powerful tool in your arsenal is character work. Lots of character work.
I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of getting to know your characters as though they’re old friends you’ve known for half your life. Sure, your reader may never need to know that Molly the Magnificent, girl sorcerer of Weston-super-mare, has three older cousins in Scotland that she’s hasn’t seen since she was six months old, or that she can’t abide the smell of lavender, or even that her middle name is Agatha after her mother’s best friend in primary school. But all of those things have made Molly the person she is at the start of your novel, and the person she is at the start of your novel will dictate how she reacts to the obstacles that the narrative throws in her way, and those reactions will shape the course of the story.
Tips, tricks & advice to help your writing shine
Blog updates on the first of every month.