Write Hacks 1

by Brenda W. Clough

croppedQuillA write hack is defined (by me) as a small writer trick. Not a major decision that will make or break your entire career, like what software platform to write your movie script on, or whether to send the trilogy to Harper & Row or self-pub it on Kindle, or whether to publish the schoolteacher-pupil porn under your own name. But an easy and simple little fix, to make your writer life easier.

So here is the one I discovered this week. When you are mulling over the title for your novel? Go over to Amazon or Goodreads, and put your proposed title into the search window. This will kick up all the books that are titled The Return of the King or whatever you were thinking of. Not only will this painfully reveal to you how very unoriginal you are! Although I wouldn’t worry too much about it; one cannot copyright a title and complete originality is probably not possible anyway — I speak as the author of How Like A God, a title with many miles on the odometer.

But you can also now consider what other books you are getting into bed with. Perhaps you are a Charlotte Bronte, raised by a strict parent in a country parsonage. You dwell on untrodden ways, by the Springs of Dove. And you believe that a book titled Fifty Shades creates no expectations in the mind of the reader. The Goodreads search will promptly disabuse you of that illusion, and a good many others as well.  Or pure numbers might be enlightening. If there are already eleventy thousand novels titled Time Enough for Love then you might want to use something else, eh? The wise author does not go head to head with Robert Heinlein.

Oh! And if you’re on Amazon? Select Books to search under. Unless you truly want to see all the movies, video game modules, dietary supplements and spaghetti-sauce spice packets with your proposed title.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe. And it is available now in an audio book edition which is read by Bronson Pinchot!

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.




Write Hacks 1 — 3 Comments

  1. Or you can go over to look for series name ideas, and find out that a book published almost twenty years ago as adult fantasy (and now considered middle grade to adult) is the only book of its title that is not romance, paranormal romance, or erotica.

    But everyone calls your book by its title. So you keep it, and keep moving…

  2. Well, like I say, it’s probably not possible to be utterly original in titles. There are only so many combinations of words. So it’s a judgment call. You probably would not want to title your novel of the Civil War GONE WITH THE WIND, and if you did then Margaret Mitchell’s estate might file suit. But if you were writing a history of a Louisiana town during Hurricane Katrina, it might be perfectly acceptable, especially after you add a more descriptive subtitle.