How to title a novel

At first it was fun. This novel is going so well, the author exudes on page 124. Let’s stop writing and play with titles! Some time later: Book titles are so much harder than I thought. Followed swiftly by: I found it at last! Then, doing a bit of digging, you realize hundreds of authors have thought of the same title. And used it.

When you have to come up with a novel title. In a hurry.

A few months later when it’s absolutely time to decide, the attitude is more likely to be, I don’t want to Talk about it anymore! And if you’re writing a series, it’s like sticking pins in your cheeks.

Since I’ve just titled four books in an upcoming fantasy series, here’s a brief recap of my journey into the bog of titles.

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The four best books I read this year

These were my favorite reads this year. Give them a try! (These books are recently published, but not during 2021.)

ECHO IN ONYX. This fascinating page-turner from Sharon Shinn is about a royal society where a select few have dopplegangers (exact replicas of themselves) who are integrated into society and accompany and interact with their primary individual in fascinating ways. I was totally immersed in this book. The first book in a trilogy–also available in audio book.

 

KLARA AND THE SUN. A Booker Prize-winning book by literary author Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a surprisingly believable view into the mental world of a humanoid-looking AI. The story conveys a sweet and sometimes unbearable poignancy. Ishiguro is a master of irony, where the reader is aware of things that the main character is not. Some may find it a bit slow, but I didn’t.

 

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. If you’ve read David Mitchell’s science fiction, you’re already a fan. He’s a total powerhouse literary writer and this one, with small elements of fantasy, is historical fiction set in 18th century Japan. The main character is a Dutch merchant who run afoul of his corrupt employer and harbors a secret love love of a Japanese woman.

 

GREAT STORIES DON’T WRITE THEMSELVES.  From the brilliant teacher Larry Brooks, a clear-sighted, inspiring guide to using major turning points in the novel, using a popular mystery book by Robert Dugoni as an example. His structural approach to the novel is the most helpful advice I’ve ever been given. I recommend all his other books as well!

40 free science fiction stories

Just in time for cozy cold weather reads, see these “Tales from the Future” free stories from new and established science fiction writers! Fill up your e-reader with the ones that appeal, and sign up for some cool newsletters, too. Because it’s always fun to find new authors or journeymen writers you haven’t yet discovered. One of mine tucked in there, too.

Ends November 30.

Check them out here.

 

My Top Writing Tips 2021

Photo by Anil Xavier on Unsplash

It’s almost winter, so here once again are my top 10 writing tips. Except different. Every year I post my latest distillation of best fiction strategies. Why do I change my mind from year to year? Because I’m still learning–often from great novels I read–or workshops. Life-long learning is one of the joys of the writing life. You can always tell a more compelling story!

 

Kay’s top ten, sure-fire, fiction writing tips:

1. Work harder on an original premise: The Napoleonic wars with air power from dragons; a murdered girl relates her story from heaven; forbidden love between a modern witch and a powerful vampire. Respect your ideas, but deepen them. Read More…

When you don’t feel like writing

Long ago I stopped asking myself on any given day if I felt like writing. Often the answer would be, “Actually, I don’t.” Another question I stopped asking was “Well, WHY don’t you feel like writing?” Not that there aren’t a bunch of pretty good reasons not to write your story, or not today, anyway.

  • discouragement about how the last story sold
  • resentment of the industry which is so vile and unfair plus random
  • a shrewd analysis of how your writing sucks
  • embarrassment over the total absence of anything professional to Twitter about
  • fury and sorrow that your agent does not answer your emails
  • you are on page 85 or page 200, two classic pages that are hard to write. OK, those are just the ones that are tough for me. Getting stuck at typical points in your manuscript is mysterious and irrational. But on those pages or nearby, I way too often get a bout of I don’t feel like writing today.

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