Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: Titles vs Characters

LET THE BATTLE RUMBLE . . . .  .

Oh, wait; that's WRiTECLUB, which is in its final bouts this week. Sadly, this is my first year that I have neither participated  as a writer or voted since DL Hammons first conceived and launched the event. And what an awesome event it has become over the last (about) 6 years. Even picked up by the DFW writers conference. I can't say "AWESOME" with enough force for all the work and effort DL and all the initial judges put into this yearly event. And the readers that offer constructive critiques and sometimes difficult votes. As I said, I only read and voted on a few of the bouts this year (I've been a very lax blogger) but the entries I read were all stellar, well edited, and it pretty much came down to which genre I liked. Tough choices. Good luck to the finalists; perhaps we should ALL try to take a few moments to read the finalist entries and offer encouragement . . . . .

Encouragement: now there is a word we all need as writers. Lately, my "encouragement" has been in the form of - you can't make money if you don't write. And the ever favorite "I like it cuz you wrote it so I don't have to read it." Yes, I know I'm largely responsible for this lack of encouragement for my writing: I've not been writing much, not submitted anything this year, and have mostly dropped out of the writing community. Meaning, no writers group to force me into 'submission.' Yeah yeah, I have commitment issues. On the one hand, I don't like someone looking over my shoulder while I write; I don't want a 'group' to write my stories. On the other hand, no accountability is . . . no accountability.

I am getting some writing done; a slow pace, nothing worthy of showing off to a group, or the public at large (publication). But I am writing things in several word documents. Including a document for the WEP June challenge, Unraveled Yarn. Writing a "yarn" (a long and rambling, often improbable, story) seems to fit my writing perspective at this point. With a thousand word count limit, the YARN can't get too long, which in itself is an intriguing allure for the concept. I have my interpretation started, pretty much finished, except I need to tweak the "rambling" concept into a viable structure. Hey look; I'm plotting, an accomplishment itself!

Ah, I was about to segue into the IWSG, but have one more writing resource related comment. I don't know if anyone ever clicks on my writing related links; but I did get an email from someone stating they visited my blog, saw my resources, and added a link for freelance writers. I clicked on the link for jobhero, aka The Ultimate Freelance Writing Guide, and I did add it to my resources. It doesn't seem to be a scam or purely advertising site. If you are a freelance writer, or want to get into freelance, and you check out the link, please let me know if you discover it a scam site. It seemed useful to me in my brief browse, although I'm not interested in freelance. Well, I'm interested, just not that dedicated. Freelance writers put some SERIOUS work into their writing - and submissions.



OK, on to IWSG. Although if you read much of the above "yarn," I'm sure you'll read plenty of insecurities in the subtext. Am I still a writer if I'm not bashing out novel after novel, or producing short stories several times a week. (Punctuation Nazi's may note no ? at the end of that sentence. I'm not sure it was a question.)

When I first started writing a novel, then a trilogy, then some short stories, then discovered a writers group, and blogs and and and and and . . I zealously threw myself into it. Now, I still love writing, finding a story concept, developing the world and characters - especially developing the world and characters. And yes, I love getting published, though short stories is all I've had success with. Back then, I wasn't constrained by the knowledge of all the rules: genre specifics, querying (like job interviewing), reader trends, publicity gimmicks. I did not "study" to become an author, I just sort of fell into it. Now I feel like I need to go to college to learn business management, public speaking, marketing analysis, copy write litigation.

So I'm writing slow, with too much of the business end of writing on my mind instead of the creative process. The sheer joy of creating characters to fill a world. Building a world that my characters fit into. My completed trilogy (Uck, yes I lost two books and am in the process of recreating them) is a women's fiction I thought was totally unique. A few years ago, after much research and reading, I started to accept there is an entire genre (yep my intro to women's fiction) with my concept. I'm still hoping for some uniqueness. My ideal ambition for this novel (trilogy) is that it will get published, and Lifetime movie channel will will notice it. Hey! A girl can dream . . .

This month's IWSG question is: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names? Easy peasy answer: I suck at book/story titles. LOL, I really have a lot of novel and short story starts. Complete with excessive research into names, name meanings, character descriptions to go with those names, prevalence of names in my location/settings and time era's.

A title (usually) is the absolute last thing I settle on to finish a story. Mostly because you cannot submit without a title. A title is always a "working title" until the story has been accepted by a publication. It rarely even tentatively happens until at least midway through a first draft, and is still subject to change at any point prior to submission, depending on the theme of the publication. For me, a title must reflect the book content, which is introduced (preferably) in the first sentence, or paragraph, discovered somewhere in the middle of the book/story, and reinforced in the last chapter. Meh; just how I write.

I have only had one Title that I created characters and a world around. The title "LAUGHING AT BUTTERFLIES" came to me, then it took about three years for my characters, a plot concept, and a world to develop around the title. Perseverance was an understatement for this one; a lot of research went into the character names, setting, folklore. If you have ever completed a massive research project, and successfully integrated the research without it sounding like research, you'll understand what an undertaking this "title first" project was to accomplish. But it was published (with only one other rejection) at Bewildering Stories issue 744, if you have time or inclination to read it.

Please be sure to thank (via visit) our Ninja host/creator Alex J Cavanaugh, and the June co-hosts Beverly Stowe-McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonya Drecker, and Ellen at The Cynical Sailor.

Be seeing y'all around the blogs :)

23 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think I'm in a similar position. Once you learn the rules and the business part, a little of the joy slips away.
Titles are the very last thing I think up as well. Sometimes I don't even come up with a title.
Will see if the IWSG is linked to that freelance site - thanks!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm glad Laughing at Butterflies found a home.

I knew when I began my current path 10 years ago my writing time would be limited. It is and I also fight the apathy my writing has since fallen into.

Cherie Reich said...

Laughing at Butterflies is a great title. I can see why it inspired you. And you're still a writer, even if you're not actively putting words on the page.

Chrys Fey said...

I can't function with a group looking over my shoulder either. I've started attending a writers meeting, but I don't participate in the critiques for that reason.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Donna, I love the title 'Laughing at Butterflies' it has a very literary feels to it and it conjures up a beautiful image.

Loni Townsend said...

I created my group, so I think I'm kind of stuck with them. :)

Woot for finding a home for your story!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - I haven't started my Yarn post yet ... but good luck with all you're doing - take care and enjoy writing - Hilary

Pat Hatt said...

Sometimes those link things sure can be scams, but nice when they aren't.

Ugg to all the rules and business part. Can sure suck the fun out of it. That's why I just went back to the writing. Whatever else happens, happens.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>... "Meaning, no writers group to force me into 'submission'."

Hey, WILD THING, I like being forced into submission as much as the next guy does, but by a "WRITER'S GROUP"? Just how many sets of handcuffs are we talking about here?

~ D-FensDogG
STMcC Presents 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'

Juneta Key said...

Love the title Laughing at Butterflies too like many have said. All my writer groups so far are online.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm a slow writer too. And the business aspect of it, like marketing, getting on Facebook and Twitter, etc feels overwhelming. It's taken out some of the joy and drive for me. Blogging already takes so much time. Love the title for your story.

E.M.A. Timar said...

If you are still a writer in your heart, you are a writer. Publishing doesn't make you one and neither does a word count at the end of the month.
As for your reduced productivity, I think everything comes in waves. Sometimes you will be at the crest, other times the trough. It is inevitable. However, I do understand what you mean about the business of writing consuming some of the zeal of creation. It is hard to balance the art of creation with the business of publishing.
By the way, I love the title Laughing at Butterflies.

Stephen Tremp said...

Well, all you need to do is take your own advice and quote the CIDER HOUSE RULES "Sometimes you gotta break some rules to set things right."

Now go forth and at least set one thing right this month and have joy doing it.

dolorah said...

Alex: I'd almost pay someone to come up with titles.

L Diane: If any of my stuff was "clean" I'd send it your way.

Cherie: Thanks

Chrys: sometimes I miss it - more the association with other writers.

Rachna: it was inspiring

Loni: yep, lol

Hi Hilary; good luck to you also

Pat: I agree, sometimes you just gotta write it and worry about the rest later.

Saint Mac: "you're killing me, Smalls!"

Juneta: I did the online thing a couple times too.

Natalie: I've fallen behind on blogging too.

EMA: balance is hard to accomplish. We all give it a try though :)

Steve: Well said Sir!

Chemist Ken said...

I've only worked on two stories so far, so I've only had to contemplate two titles, but my first story had about 15 characters and finding names for all them was a struggle (one I haven't quite finished yet). I can relate to the slow writing, so just keep pushing forward and know that the end of the tunnel is out there somewhere.

Carol Kilgore said...

"Laughing at Butterflies" is an awesome title! It has tickled my imagination and now I have all these beautiful fluttery little creatures in my head. It's a nice image and I'm smiling.

The business side of things doesn't make me smile, though. I struggle daily for a balance. Every once in a while I win.

Gwen Gardner said...

Marketing does suck the joy out of writing. I kind of put it away until I'm done with what I'm working on, then do some marketing. But what works changes so quickly in this ever-changing business. Ah well. Some day when I'm rich and famous...

The Cynical Sailor said...

Encouragement is so so important for writers. That's what makes this group so great - everyone is supportive and encouraging.

Olga Godim said...

I haven't written anything in months, but I'm hoping it is a phase that'll pass... eventually. The stories are still there, in my head, so yeah, I'm still a writer. A silent one, but a writer nonetheless.
Great title "Laughing at Butterflies."

Lynda R Young said...

It's good you are getting at least some writing done. It doesn't matter that you feel it might be a bit slow. Any writing is good writing.

Denise Covey said...

No good coming up with a title too early, as my story always changes focus, being a 'discovery' writer. Also means being a slow writer I think. Character names are the easy part.
Glad you're going to unravel a yarn for us...

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Writers groups are both a blessing and a curse, I've found. For me, they work best when it's a gathering of writers sharing tips and advice and kvetching about the writers' life, not critiquing others' work. Critiquing groups have a number of pitfalls--there's the writing by committee feel of members' novels, as you mentioned. Someone in the group will always criticize everything to prove how smart they are; someone else won't have a critical word to say about anything. Someone always gets offended, and a few will gossip behind the others' backs.

As much as I love hanging out with writers, I'd rather just go for dinner.

Nick Wilford said...

You're definitely still a writer, it sounds like things are ticking over, even if it takes a while. I don't think the pressure of writer's groups works for everyone, I'm not in any group, just have a couple of CPs.