November 3 question – What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?
Drafts, Titles, & Blurbs, Oh My!
Writing on some days flows easily. Most days not so much; it feels like I’m writing junk. And then, there are far too many days when writing is a struggle fest. Those are the days when I just have to get it done because of a deadline.
Writing first drafts is the part I like doing the least. It’s a real chore. Often, I’m just gutting it out, with the goal of writing it quickly. FAST!
I much prefer editing. Usually. Well, at least until I’m editing the same story for the fifth time or more. Most fiction regardless of length takes on average about eight rewrites, revisions, and polishing. The highest number was 49 drafts, but that was for my cookbook. All because of the many technicalities that required uniformity.
You may be asking, aren’t rewrites and revisions the same thing?
No, they’re not. Rewriting encompasses rearranging, removing, and adding. A revision is about smaller matters: looking at the sentence structure, choosing the right words, right tense, and correcting other grammar and punctuation issues. The polishing draft is about fixing all errors and getting the formatting correct.
So, everything—books, articles, short stories, even poems—goes through the four-draft process: first draft, rewrite, revise, polish. Thankfully the first draft is a one go-through only. The rewrite can take several drafts, as does the revision, and polishing drafts.
This month’s question refers to the smallest parts of writing a book: the title and blurb. For me, they’re the easiest to write and the most fun, even though they go through the four-draft process, as well.
When coming up with titles, I start with the exercise of what I call Brainstorming 20, an exercise I’ve taught to students and teach to other writers.
Here’s a partial list brainstormed by a group. Recognize what they were looking for?
Sneezy, Dopey, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, and Doc were part of the list, too, the final characters chosen for the 1934 movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Are you noticing how some of the names became later comic characters?
I do the same thing when looking for a title; I create a list of 20. The first ten are easy. The next five start becoming a combo of different words from the first ten. The last five are usually more of a struggle but start expressing what I’m really looking for. These last five are also the most original.
As for the blurb, it’s about coming up with an elevator pitch, a one-line summary, which then I can expand with a few more sentences.
Coming up with a title and a blurb can take several days, even a week, and I enjoy writing them immensely.
Are your brainstorming methods anything like mine?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting.