Reading Summary

Here are the books I’ve read this month:

  • The Sword and the Satchel by Elizabeth Boyer
  • “Fireworks” by Diana Paz
  • The Well-Favored Man: The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Nephew by Elizabeth Willey
  • The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein (highly recommended)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
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Friday Prompt 8/19

Welcome to week twenty-three. If you missed any just look for the Friday Prompt category and/or tag. Please share/tweet/RT/etc and post a comment if you are participating. If you want to share, you can! Just post it in the comments, or send me an e-mail or mention on twitter.

This week’s prompt: Write about a time when you were so sick you wanted to die. Describe the feelings you had.

Here are the ‘rules’:

  • 1000 words or less (don’t want to spend too much time, now do ya?)
  • Must follow/incorporate prompt/idea into the story.
  • You have the week to write!

Titles Are A Bitch

I always have trouble picking a title. In fact, most of my titles are absurd, terrible, or outright wrong. I’ll give you several iterations of the same story, but with its title history.

  • Cameron (initial title)
  • Dishes During Spring
  • Best Friends
  • Best Friends Don’t Make The Best Lovers (or) The Cruelest Trick or the Coolest Friend
  • How To Be a Friend
  • Finding Friendship
  • Finding Friendship Amid Unrequited Desire
  • Blue Moon (current title)

The first title is the name of a character in the story, and not the main one. Second? Terrible! There’s slight mention of a dish off-handedly. The third title doesn’t work, because they aren’t best friends. Fourth is just awkward.  Fifth is a continuation of the poor friend theme. Sixth and seventh are similar, just one is more explanatory. The last one was given to me by a non-writer friend. And so far it works the best.

That is certainly a lot of titles to go through, and of course if I was less involved in the story, I would have chosen something similar.

The question is, what makes a good title? In this case, it has two meanings. My two main characters and forces in the book drink the beer Blue Moon. Also, something happens between the two that will never happen again, hence something happening in a blue moon. Double meaning that was totally unintentional that I will use for my advantage!

A good way to think of a title is as an invitation to the piece. If you are going to have a formal dinner party, you send out formal invitations with formal lettering. If your just getting together with friends to have some fun, you may use something like facebook or email to send out the invitation and not be fancy about it. With a title, you invite a reader into your story and that invitation should tell them something about the story, and give them an idea of what they might be getting into. For example, if you saw the title “Dishes During Spring” you might expect it to be about someone washing dishes after a party or cleaning up after something (which isn’t true for this particular story).

After think about the invitation as title, also think about a recurring image or theme that comes across in the piece. Perhaps there are a lot of balloons, or sea shells. You can attach a meaning to the balloons in a title like so, “LikeLollipops” and maybe the MC thinks they look like lollipops in the air. Or the sea shell, “Hermit Crab’s Shell” where you have a story about a man who’s a hermit like but comes out of his shell. You want the title to connect to the piece in more than one way, that way it has meaning other than just words at the front of the book.

And yes, titles are a bitch.

Teaser Tuesday

Here is another teaser from my WIP, The Balance:

Unusual sun broke through the clouds. Light spilled over buildings, cascading down walls, and flooding the streets. The pervasive fog and rain dissipated, leaving the skies crystalline blue. Vivid colors popped in the sunlight.

Celeste walked down the Palace tree-lined avenue, holding hands with Rhyn. Her dressed rustled in the light breeze. His hand felt warm in hers, dry and comforting. She leaned into him, inhaling. He would be leaving later that afternoon.

He detangled his hand, wrapping it around her shoulder as they continued. Though the sun was out, it was a biting cold afternoon. Several people ran about their errands, while other strolled in the unexpected weather. Clear blue skies were uncommon, to say the least. She’d learned that in her few years here.

Soon they came to a more populous area. Hundreds of people milled the streets, more to be outside than anything. Celeste enjoyed being lost in the crowd. Rhyn guided them through the streets, and she paid little attention to where she was going. She felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders: she could finally get something done.

They turned a corner and a park lay before them, small, but the trees and grass comforted Celeste. She was used to gardens or wild living not endless buildings. She reached for his hand, kissing him lightly on the cheek.

“I have something to give to you,” he said, putting his finger to her lips. “But you’ll have to wait.”

The Perfect Ending

What is the perfect ending?

For all writers endings can be elusive. When we watch most mainstream movies, we are satisfied with the nice, wrapped up endings, all the plots in order and everything accounted for. In writing fiction, Hollywood endings can spell disaster. Sometimes the ending should be chaotic, unpredictable, and most of all, not everything should be wrapped up. In doing so, you give readers a chance to dwell in your world a moment longer, to let them think about what could happen next.

Now, as a writer, you’ll want them to follow your narrative past the last puncuation mark. Your characters and their actions are integral into finding out “what happens next.” If you have strong, character led actions and interactions, readers will have a fair idea of what happens after the story. Not everything should be spelled out for them. Readers are smart. The best example I can think of is this: pick someone in your life that you know very well, and in your imagination, put them through several senarrios as if you are telling them a big secret about you. How would they react? You want your readers to have a good sense of your characters so they can do the exact same thing.

Also, the perfect ending is more than just leaving a little more to be desired. It must also come naturally out of the text. “Pulling the rug out” is a term for saying “ha ha, I got you!” and readers do not like that. If it seems that Silvia will punch her boyfriend Bob, and instead she forgives, readers will notice and feel betrayed. Explore the truest emotions and question the actions of your characters; it could lead you to unexpected paths and perfect endings.