Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

AUTHOR A BOOK SERIES - TITLES MATTER

Hello friends & writers!

I mentioned in my last post that I am teaching an elective class at Seven Peaks Middle School. But I didn't say how much I LOVE it!




I taught an adult class through SCBWI before - but it was not as much fun as this class! And not as scary for me either.


When I first walked into the science room (where we will meet for this class) I could feel the hives start to warm my chest. I wore a high collared shirt because I knew I'd break out. It always happens when I'm nervous. 



But my five students were wonderful and not as frightening as I had imagined. We began class by saying something about ourselves. I went first and told them about my time working at the Pittsburgh Zoo with the elephants. That broke the ice and we were off. I got to learn a little bit about each one of them and it helped me to remember their names and uniqueness from the start.


Then I dove right in:

The first topic I wanted to share with them was on TITLES. Everyone knows you need a good title to catch the eyes of readers. But interning at Andrea Brown taught me that you need an awesome title to catch the eye of the agent, too. Or the eye of the intern checking out the query box. When an interesting title popped up in there I noticed it right away. Because it stood out. 


A great title has both meaning and irony. If you don't know what that means, think about these titles below:


  • The Hunger Games
  • The Lightning Thief

 The Hunger Games is a great title because it explains a bit of what's going on in the book and it's ironic. Hunger is never considered a game. We know right away that something bad is happening in this book - there is hunger. But we also are curious about it being described as a game. It's strange and unique. It leaves me wondering and wanting to know more about the story.

It's the same for The Lightning Thief. It tells you that someone stole something. But how can anyone steal lightening? No one can, and yet it's in the title. And everyone wants to read about a thief, right? They're interesting, naughty and daring. 

Both of these titles peak your interest as a reader and make you want to read and know more about what's going on in these books.

I had my students share their titles. Most of them had one word titles that meant something to them and told a little bit about the book but none of them had irony.

These are not their titles but examples of titles that have some meaning but are too vague.

  • Love
  • Best Friends
  • Hurt
  • Abandoned
Now lets try to make them better - make them pop!
  • Twisted Love
  • Best Friends Sting
  • The Hurt that Shines
  • Abandoned Together



I only added something interesting in the word that precedes or comes after the first title and it helped. The titles are stronger and more interesting. There's a bit of irony in them. Love is usually a good thing, not a twisted thing. Best friends are supposed to help you, not sting. Hurting usually does not get you to shine. And being abandoned is not something that usually happens together. These titles would make me want to read more if I saw them on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble.


Here's an example of my title - which I thought wasn't bad, until I taught this class. Funny how teaching helped me realize I hadn't done what I was asking them to do to my title.

Working Title: SKINNED

Titles after teaching this class: 

WICKED SKINS
SWEET AWFUL SKIN
SWEET WICKED FUR



I'm still playing around with the title but I think I'm getting closer to something that both tells the reader something about the book and has something ironic about it. People usually don't think of skin as wicked or awful and sweet. Or fur as sweet and wicked. 

After playing with their titles we looked at the words in their titles and in my titles. Words matter. The stronger the better, meaning the word that makes the reader feel something is the one to use. 


Example:


What if THE HUNGER GAMES was instead:
  • Starvation Play
  • The Starving Game
  • Need to Eat Games
  • The Hunger Tournament
  • Playing with Hunger

Or THE LIGHTNING THIEF
  • Stealing Lightning
  • The Storm Thief
  • The Bright Light Burglar
  • Taking Lightning from the Sky
  • Robbing Lightning
Words matter! None of these other titles are as strong as the original titles. And that's why they peaked our interest. When trying to come up with your working title look at each word. And ask yourself if that word is the most powerful one you could use. 


Write~on,
Angie


Now go create your best title!













3 comments:

  1. Good for you, Angie! You did it. I bet you are a super teacher! Miss you, Marianne

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good for you, Angie! You did it. I bet you are a super teacher! Miss you, Marianne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Q: Can anyone tell me the difference between K2 and IQ? A: Nthn. In Seventh-Heaven, we'll gitt'm both HawrHawr Need summore thots, ideers, raw wurdz or ironclad iconoclasms? Look no firdr, goirly...

    VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI: As an ex-writer of the sassy, savvy, schizophenia we all go through in this lifelong demise, I just wanna help U.S. git past the whorizontal more!ass! we're in (Latin: words to [the] wise)...

    "This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty told me in my coma. "Far beyond thy earthly tempest is where you'll find corpulent eloquence" (paraphrased). Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET any moe curly, party-hardy-endorphins, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girl passed-away due to those wry, sardonic satires.

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3

    Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go git'm, girl. You're incredible. See you Upstairs. I myself won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls
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    -YOUTHwitheTRUTH
    -------------------------------
    PS Need summore unique, uncivilized, useless names? Lemme gonna gitcha started, brudda:

    Oak Woods, Franky Sparks, Athena Noble, Autumn Rose, Faith Bishop, Dolly Martin, Willow Rhodes, Cocoa Major, Roman Stone, Bullwark Burnhart, Magnus Wilde, Kardiak Arrest, Will Wright, Goldy Silvers, Penelope Summers, Sophie Sharp, Violet Snow, Lizzy Roach, BoxxaRoxx, Aunty Dotey, Romero Stark, Zacharia Neptoon, Mercurio Morrissey, Fritz & Felix Franz, Victor Payne, Isabella Silverstein, Mercedes Kennedy, Redding Rust, Martini Phoenix, Ivy Squire, Sauer Wolf, Yankee Cooky, -blessed b9...

    God blessa youse
    -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

    ReplyDelete