Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Here are a couple of good taglines I've seen recently, ones strong enough to make me pick up the book:
The city is alive tonight . . . and it's her job to keep it that way.
The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
In the fight to save humanity, she's the weapon of choice.
Bitter Night by Diana Pharoah Francis
As for ones I've seen that didn't work, how about these:
Can the hidden colony of Marseguro survive rediscovery?
Marseguro by Edward Willett
Beneath Boston's historic streets, and ancient power stirs...
Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald
The two that work both end with clever twists, something that the tag for Spiral Hunt tries to do as well. But "an ancient power stirs" seems tepid, needlessly vague, not particularly ... well ... stirring.
To be fair, the tags that didn't work for me are hardly the worst I've seen. For some truly dreadful ones, let's go to the movies:
When all else fails, they don't.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra
The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92.
He was dead, but he got better.
Crank: High Voltage
Of course, in all fairness, I'm sure that the Crank tag is supposed to be goofy.
Coming up with one of these little verbal trailers is far from easy, something I found out when I decided to try my hand at coming up with one for Veins. I started by looking at models, hanging out in Barnes & Nobel, pulling books off the shelf, making lists of tags that grabbed me. Then, using those as models, I set about making lists of my own tags.
Since Veins is set in an abandoned surface mine, I tried coming up with phrases that dealt with scars, wounds, blood (always a good word to use when tagging a horror novel), and coal. The worst one on my list? I suppose that would have to be this one:
In coal blood.
The list was long. Two pages. More than fifty tries, but gradually something started to emerge. Near the end of the list, I came up with these:
If you abandon a wound, it will never heal.
Abandoned wounds never heal.
Some wounds never heal.
That last one made it to the cover, and I'm pleased with it. Those four words represent the essence of the book: setting, theme, and conflict. After writing them, I knew that the book would hold together. Better yet, I knew that it was marketable.
For me, that kind of confirmation is why I think coming up with your own tags is worth the effort. Doing so enables you to better understand the book by capturing the essence of your project in a kind of verbal snapshot.
I don't have a formula for writing tags. Only a process: study models, make lists.
And since the first part of the process involves looking at book covers, please let me know what you find -- the best as well as the worst.
We'll round out the week tomorrow with one more question. Until then, remember this: the only thing better than tomorrow's question are the ones I've already answered.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I thought it was an intriguing way of conceptualizing the story. More than the title. Not quite a summary.
Although tagline development has traditionally been the job of publishers and ad departments, it doesn't hurt to try coming up with a good one on your own. If nothing else, it might verify the marketability of your work in progress. It might also serve you well in a pitch session. Moreover, in this age of short-staffed publishers, the tag you come up with might well appear on your book.
And so we arrive at this week's question.Do you have any advice on how to come up with tags for your book? How do you identify the most important ideas to represent and condense them down to a phrase?
We'll consider that tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The hardback edition of Borderlands 3 was released in 1993. It had a powerful cover by Rick Lieder. That's it in the upper left.
Therein lies my final bit of advice: sometimes the search for a perfect title need go no farther than the story itself. In fact, I am now so sold on that title that I have decided to use it for my next book -- a collection of horror stories from the multiple-award winning publisher Ash-Tree Press. The book, featuring an incredible cover by Jason Zerrillo, will be released this March. Interestingly, the film has yet to enter production.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Let's consider what I was going for.
First of all, the name that you give to a book has got to do more than simply get a reader interested. It needs to inform as well.
Visions functions in much the same way, not only because many of the stories deal with hallucinations, but because the book itself is presented as a visionary experience. If you've read the book, you know what I mean. If you haven't, go read it.
So the first thing you want your title to do is accurately represent important aspects of the book's contents. Ideally, the reader should go in expecting one thing, but along the way he or she should begin to realize a deeper significance -- a sense of irony or nuance that gradually becomes evident during the reading.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
And the questions are darn good.
So be sure to check back here every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday -- starting March 18, for some poignant Q&A on exposition, dramatization, synopsis writing, and whatever else seems relevant at the time.