Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Story Titles Are Important for Writers and Readers

A colleague recently asked me to read the first draft of a captivating personal essay, but something was missing the right title and the real story. A third of the way into the piece I found both. Interestingly, the discovery of the title brought the discovery of the real story.

A story's title reveals its heart
Titles are important because they're like rudders, guiding writer and reader along the story's path to its heart.

Here's how to find your title (and possibly your real story):
  • As you reread your work, what word or phrase stands out, and why?
  • Does it capture what is or should be the essence of the piece?
  • If so, how?
  • Does the story change with the new title?
  • If so, in what way(s)?
  • Is the title original without being flashy and detracting from the story instead of substantiating it?
  • Does the title reveal the heart of the work without giving too much away?
Titles are important because they keep the writer and reader on track.

What story are you working on whose title you're unsure of?

Happy writing!

For more tips, visit my online workshop, Word for Words.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

If Writer's Block Exists How You Do Break It

Break writer's block by writing
Writers who say they can't write often mean they're afraid to write. Reasons include not knowing where to start, what to say or how to say it. As to the issue of time, the real fear there is of loss. If I write, the writer reasons, what will I miss — a lovely day, an outing with friends, family?

Regardless of the fear, the only way to break writer's block is to write.

But there are ways to ease the fear, and ease into the task:
  • Leave work undone: Ernest Hemingway stopped at a point where he knew what would happen. That way, when he returned, he'd have something to say.
  • Edit your work: A great way to stoke the writing fires is to edit a section of your story, preferably one you're currently working on, although editing something else works, too.
  • Make notes on the next scene: One of the hardest tasks is coming to the work cold, having little or no idea what the next scene should look like. To avoid this pitfall, make notes on the scene the day before, and give yourself time at the next sitting to let your imagination run with the ideas before diving in.
Tip: Always edit your work the night before. Food cooks better in a preheated oven. Your writing process will be better for it, too.

What does your writer's block look like?

Happy writing!

For more tips, visit Word for Words, or visit Adele's blog. Adele Annesi is an award-winning writer, editor and instructor who is working on a novel and series of short stories set in Italy. Visit her at Adele M. Annesi.