Friday, June 3, 2011

Inspiration strikes again!

OK, so when I was in school we were taught that all good essays had a theme sentence which summed up the rest of the essay. So here goes. In this blog post I will tell you about the new title I came up with for my book, one of my favorite websites for writers, and for a new contest I really want to enter.

First off, the title I came up with for my "zombie" novel is "The Language of the Unheard." It's a little long since studies show that most bestsellers are three words or less, but some of those words in the middle are nice and short so they almost don't count. Its perfect in so many ways, some of which I didn't even realize until after I picked it. It's from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote which says "A riot is the language of the unheard," and since my novel is partially about civil rights for zombies and about taking a stand for those who can't take a stand for themselves and about not judging someone until you've gotten to know them, it's perfect for that; not preachy, but it makes sense. But on the other level, which I didn't realize until later, its prefect because the "zombies" in my book are deaf-mutes so they are literally the unheard as well. So tell me, what do you think?

Now for one of my favorite websites. It is the Lulu Titlescorer. It is basically a computer program which determines if any title is going to be a bestseller. Of course, that is not an exact science and has a lot more to do with you writing abilities, but it was put together by a team of statisticians who based it off of fifty years worth of bestsellers and and is proven to be about 40 percent more accurate than just randomly guessing. I have found it very helpful when I have several titles that I can't decide between and if you play around with it long enough, you can kind of figure out what types of things make for good titles. And, if you're curious, my title above has a 26 percent chance of being a bestseller if I consider the title figuratively and a 10 percent chance if I take it literally. But for both Finding Innisburg and North to the Klondike, I used it to select which title I wanted to use. I'm going to ignore the results for this one, however, because it's too perfect.

Now for the contest. I had heard of the Three Day Novel Contest before but I ran across it again and I got to thinking how fun it would be. Usually I'm not a fan of entering contests with a fifty dollar entry fee, but I'm seriously considering this. A novel in three days. Sounds like a seriously crazy challenge and I love seriously crazy challenges. Especially when they involve writing! Also on a side note, I am a firm NaNoWriMo believer. I would never, ever be where I am today without that. I would still be three chapters into a daunting unfinished novel and instead, I have written four over the last three years. So anyway, I was on a writing website and this guy, whoever he was, went off on this tangent about how it takes at least two years to write a novel and "those write-a-novel-in-thirty-days programs are just scams and they are the equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes. No one ever wrote a novel in thirty days, at least one that got published anyway." I was soooo mad. I looked for a way to contact the guy but there wasn't an option on his site and I almost wanted to smash my computer. If it had been a book I had bought I would have burned it. He was sooo wrong and it pissed me off. Just to point out that several novels have been published out of NaNoWriMo including Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants" which was a New York Times Bestseller and is being made into a movie as we speak. But I was very angry that he would run NaNoWriMo into the dirt like that.

Anyway, in retaliation, here is my defence for NaNoWriMo (yes, I realize this was not in my theme sentence but I'm just annoyed again at that website so I need to vent). Many, many people in the world want to write a novel, or have started to write a novel. In fact, if you took a random poll, I am willing to bet that over half of people would agree that they have a good idea for a novel that they just haven't gotten around to writing. Part of the problem for this is that they think that writing a novel A. takes years and years to write even a rough draft of B. is something you can't do while you are working, raising kids, in school or just generally normal. They think that you have to take several bottles of scotch, rent an attic room somewhere, and not come out for twenty years while you pound out your masterpiece. But in reality, with only a one or two hours a day you can pound out a rough draft of a novel in a month or so. Is it going to be good right then? No. It's going to suck. But your rough draft is always going to suck even if you spend thirty years on it. In fact, I'm willing to bet that if you spent thirty years on it its going to suck even more because the flow and the pacing will be totally off since you are now thirty years distant from the first part of your story by the time you're done.

So NaNoWriMo liberates people to write, to get their ideas down without worrying about making them perfect the first time. Of course if you want to edit it until its ready to sell, then that will probably take you a year or more, but so many people never get past the first page and NaNoWriMo does something about that. I think one of the problems people have is they think, and rightly so, that becoming a good writer takes some practice. If you've never written anything in your life, you're probably not going to be much of a writer. But you're never going to be much of a writer if you don't start somewhere. And NaNoWriMo is often that somewhere. I love it, I wrote my first novel for NaNo and it was utterly terrible but it got me on the path that I am today. Writing a novel is no longer an intimidating idea for me, something I'm going to do when I retire or when I win the lottery and can move to a cabin in Alaska. It's something I can do here, now, in a month or two. So while it may not work for everyone, it certainly works for some people so don't knock it. It is not a scam by any stretch of the imagination.

Alright, I'm done ranting.

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