Titles, Themes, and Formats

Facebook – General

One good thing about the nights drawing in is it does encourage more reading, which is never a bad thing. It is also easier not to be distracted from being at your desk to get on with writing. One look at the murky weather and the thought of being in a nice cosy room writing is infinitely more appealing.
Stories have been a major part of my life for donkey’s years. My only regret is I wish I’d started writing my own a lot earlier. But the mportant thing is to start. Don’t worry about getting it right first go. Nobody ever does.
See learning from your mistakes and rejections as a kind of apprenticeship. Everyone goes through it. What nobody can say is how long that apprenticeship will be. But you should find acceptances increase as you get better at what you do and target your markets more effectively.

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Many thanks to all who’ve commented so far on my new Chandler’s Ford Today series What Books Mean To Me. Keep the books to be saved from disaster coming!
Books, and music, are two of the greatest joys in my life. The creative arts matter! I used to play the recorder years ago and, more briefly, the flute.
The recorder, which I still have, was something my dad got for me with his Kensitas cigarette cards!
I know! The irony of a wind instrument being obtained thanks to smoking which does nothing to help the lungs at all! I am glad to say Dad packed up smoking and spent decades cigarette-free.
You’ll be pleased to know I stopped playing a long time ago. I wouldn’t get Three Blind Mice out of it now! So listening to music is the real joy now.
The lovely thing with books is I relish reading and writing them and there’s no age limit here. I am encouraged a lot by those writers who achieved publication later in life. There’s hope for us all there!

What kind of writing exercises do you like best? I prefer a set theme or an opening line kind. You can go in all kinds of directions with those!
A writing exercise I was set earlier this year was to write down the first ten ideas I had on a theme. The purpose was you would “get rid of” the obvious ideas first. It would be the ideas that cropped up at numbers 5 or 6 onwards that would be the most interesting ones to work with.
So I tried it – and yes, this will be an idea I will keep using. It makes you dig deeper into your imagination and that’s a very good idea!

One of the first twist in the tale stories that had a major impact on me was Roald Dahl’s “lamb” one and I can’t say more than that without spoilers. Do check it out if you’ve not read it or seen an adapted version on things like his Tales of the Unexpected.
I watched that series every so often but wuld certainly appreciate it more now. When reading other material, I look for clues that to me hint at a coming twist. Sometimes I guess right. Sometimes I get the clue but the author does something with it I didn’t see coming. Other times I miss the clue altogether! Then I’m miffed at myself!
But it is huge fun to play that guessing game and enhances my enjoyment of a book or story so much!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Themes, like titles, are best kept direct. If you use a pun you’ve got to ensure you deliver on it. What you are looking for at the end of a story is a sense of completion for the reader.
Did the tale meet its theme? Did it twist the theme? If so, was the twist an “obvious” one performed well? If it does surprise, is that something which could be reasonably anticipated from clues within the story?
One reason why it pays to read .well is you could and should work out what it is you like about the story and then figure out how you can apply that to your tales. If a twist is superb, what did the writer do to achieve this? Look through and you will pick up something. I call it the oh that’s how moment!
Best of all, you pick up tips like this and enjoy a good read.

How do you choose your themes? I tend to pick ones like love or justice and then come up with a quirky character to serve that theme.
I find it best to keep to straight-forward themes as they are great for plot and character development. Also I’ve a great aversion to over-complicating things!

Flash fiction does force you to keep to the point which is no bad thing.

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Flash fiction has also been known as postcard fiction in that your word count is what you can get on the back of one. This is good news for me! My handwriting is tiny. It’s a family joke I could get War and Peace on a postcard!
Set word counts work better for me then!
I think a set word count is better in any case. I’ve found it to be an odd truth that boundaries, like word counts, free me up to write better. For one thing, I know I can’t go off at tangents. I have to stick to the point. Fine-tuning my focus has always paid for me.

Top tips for titles:-

Mix up the type of title you use.

Use alliterative titles sparingly. The novelty does wear off quickly.

Keep titles to the point and as short as possible. You want them to be memorable and shorter titles always come up trumps there.

Proverbs can make good titles and can hook readers in. What would you make of a story called A Stitch In Time for example? That is open to interpretation and a reader will hopefully be curious to see what you have done with it.

Twist sayings to come up with intriguing titles.

Above all, have fun inventing your titles!

Goodreads Author Blog – Hearing Stories

My favourite format is paperback but I am fond of audio books. I managed to convert family members to the sheer joy of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld thanks to audio books. We can get through two of them each way on our annual jaunt to the far North of Scotland.
I think what I like most about audio books is hearing the characters come to life. It’s a bit like eavesdropping on a conversation. From a writing viewpoint, you also get to hear the rhythm of the dialogue, how the author handles hesitation, repetition etc.
Speech in whatever format of book cannot be exactly the same as real speech. You’d never want to read all these umms, ahhs, coughs and false starts! All it can be is mirror an idealised version of speech.
But hearing that helps you to write it yourself.
Happy listening!

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