Showing posts with label polls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polls. Show all posts

Coming Up with a Book Title

I am preparing, finally, to send Post-Apoc Ninjas to my agent. "Post-Apoc Ninjas" is the title I use for it online, short for Post-Apocalyptic, Dragon-Riding Ninjas (with Mechs!). While that title is perfectly descriptive of what's in the book, it isn't quite the right tone for the novel.

I have another working title for the novel, which is The Con of War. It's meant to be a play on Sun Tzu's The Ancient Art of War, but (a) I don't think it really comes across and (b) it's just not cool enough. The thing is, I usually just go with whatever title comes to me. Turns out that doesn't always work (shocker!).

So instead I came up with a process (super shocker!).

STEP #1: What does a winner look like?
I thought about what the above titles were lacking in, and what I thought a good title should do. I came up with four general categories. Note that these were just my categories. You may have your own (you should probably look at titles you particularly like or something; I was too lazy):
  1. Tone and Feel: A measure of how well the title hints at what is to come. For my novel, this meant as many of the following as possible: an Asian feel, ninjas, dragons, mechs, post-apocalyptic setting, con game, and war.
  2. Multiple Meanings: A measure of how many ways the title can be interpreted (the more, the better), and the relevance of those interpretations to the novel.
  3. Use in the Novel: A measure of whether the title is a phrase from the prose itself and how relevant that phrase is to the novel's theme(s). Is it an important phrase? Repeated? Does it have special meaning, or is it a throwaway term?
  4. Overall Coolness: A measure of how cool the title might sound to someone who knows absolutely nothing about the story.
STEP #2: Enter the contestants.
Brainstorm. Just make up titles out of whatever. Scan or all-out read the novel looking for metaphors, themes, and cool turns of phrase. Write them all down. I ended up with twenty entrants (including the two contenders above). It helped that I was reading through the novel for a final revision and writing down anything that sounded remotely title-worthy.

STEP #3: Battle Royale. Fight!
Stick them in a table (or an Excel sheet, or Post-Its, whatever floats you) and judge them. Come up with a scale for your categories (I rated all categories from 1 to 3, because I don't need or like a lot of granularity).  Try to be objective. Try to judge them without comparing one to another. Hire someone to clean up the blood and teeth afterwards.

STEP #4: Semi-Finals.
Now that all of your contestants have been judged, determine your criteria for moving on. It might be an objective look at the totals across categories. Maybe you require that one of the categories have a certain score. Maybe you give a special pass to ones you like. Copy only the winners of the Battle Royale to a new place, so you can see them against each other, without the losers cluttering them up.

My criteria was at least 8 out of a possible 12 across the categories (although a couple of 7's passed because I liked how they were used in the novel). It cut the field down from 20 to 12, which wasn't much, but when I sorted them by total, I realized that the only ones I really liked were the ones that achieved 9 and up. These three titles became my Semi-Final winners.

STEP #5: Championship.
The next thing I did kinda surprised me. Instead of choosing a winner from among the three (although I did have a favorite at this point). I looked at all three and tried to make them better.

In my case, I realized most of them were a little shy of the Tone and Feel I wanted. I clarified to myself what that feel was (mostly kung-fu), looked up a bunch of related titles (mostly kung-fu movies), and figured out what made those titles sound like they were related (basically became a human kung-fu movie title generator: Way of the Master's Deadly Dragon Fist!).

It was pretty fun.

STEP #6 (Optional): Poll Your Audience.
Because I'm nothing if not shameless (and also I think by this point most of you want to know what my finalists were). Yes, I am serious. No, I won't necessarily use the most-voted as the title. Yes, you may vote whether or not you've read the novel. (If you're reading this from e-mail or a feed reader, you'll have to click through to see the poll):

Feel free to expand upon your vote, say how stupid these are, or even suggest other titles in the comments.

Which Prize Would You Like?

If I were to, say, run semi-regular contests around here, what sorts of prizes would you be most interested in, do you think?

For those suggesting their own prizes in the comments, remember this is for science; try to be mostly serious. Emmet, I'm looking at you.

Blog Schedules: Do You Even Notice?

You may have noticed that Susan's guest post went up on Tuesday -- normally an off-day for Author's Echo -- but also that there was no post on Wednesday. Or maybe you didn't notice! That's what this poll is about.

See, I've seen conflicting advice on the subject of blog schedules. Most professional bloggers say you need a schedule so your audience knows what to expect. I get that. That's one reason I blog M/W/F (usually).

But other advice says don't worry about it. E-mail subscriptions and feed services like Google Reader make blog schedules superfluous. I get that too, considering I don't actually know what anyone's schedule is. I just read whatever's in Google Reader whenever it's there.

So what about you?

Pop Quiz: Name Pronunciation

[UPDATE (9/12/11): Believe it or not, my name's pronounced Hyna (like Heineken, the beer). Remember that when I'm famous and you do a vlog or podcast about me. (Also if you call me Hiney in public, I may use your own mispronunciation stories against you. I'm looking at you Matt MacNish!).]

A silly poll for the weekend. These are the five most frequent pronunciations of my last name, but only one of them is correct. Note that if you know me in real life, you are TOTALLY ALLOWED to vote. I'll update this post with the correct answer on Monday.

  • Heinz (like the ketchup)
  • Hine (rhymes with brine)
  • Hane (like the underwear)
  • Hyna (like Heineken, the beer)
  • Hiney (like the word for butt)

So, I had this speech class my sophomore year in high school. I hate speeches. Before HS, I sometimes intentionally took a zero just so I wouldn't have to give a speech. The teacher was a good guy. He was funny, but he had no inhibitions when it came to student humiliation (as befits a speech teacher, I guess).

Because the class was a general requirement, the students were a cross-section: nerds, jocks, actors, cheerleaders, popular kids, everything. I only had one friend in the class and was in constant fear of what the others thought of me or when they would laugh.

So the worst moment comes; the teacher calls me up for my turn. "Adam..." He squints at the role sheet. "Hiney?" Then he laughs and says, "A damn hiney?"

I laughed it off, but really I wanted to crawl into a corner and die. What's your worst name pronunciation story?

Questions! 2011!

It's been a while since we've done questions, and there are a number of new faces around the blog lately. I figure it's time to do it again.

The rules are simple. Put your questions in the comments. You may ask anything you like, serious or silly, professional or totally inappropriate. I'll answer all of them as best I can and may even do so honestly!

You may, if you like, review old questions and answers, but it's not required. Part of thinking like a pro means realizing some questions will be asked repeatedly. I'm okay with that. Ask away!

And just to keep things fair, here's a question for you, devised by one of my most devious Irish friends:

Poll: How Do You Feel About Maps?

Everyone has their own opinion on maps in a novel. Some people despise them, considering them a cheap form of infodump. Others will buy a book just because it has a pretty map, regardless of what the book is about.

Of course it depends on the quality of map and how (or whether) the story uses it, but in general how do you feel about maps?

Personally, I LOVE them. I can't read Lord of the Rings without flipping to the map every time a place is mentioned.

But because of that, I'm kind of a map snob. I'm disappointed if the book takes place in a single undetailed location, or in places that aren't even on the map (I'm looking at you, Name of the Wind). I get upset if the map is wrong (it's happened!). And while I do love flipping back to the map, I don't want to HAVE to.

My favorite maps do four things:
  1. They are not required to follow the action (i.e. they can be skipped).
  2. They include most important locations mentioned in the book.
  3. They don't include too many places that AREN'T mentioned in the book.
  4. They enhance the experience for those who want to study them.

I have a map for Air Pirates (I don't see how you could write fantasy without one), but I don't show it to my beta readers. So far only two have asked if there was a map, and nobody said they were lost without one. I take that to mean I'm doing a good job. Though if this thing gets published, you better believe I'll be pushing for a map. I mean, assuming I get any say at all.

What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) maps? Why?

Feedback Friday

You guys are awesome. I was all worried Wednesday's post would get nasty for some reason (even though I know you guys; who would be nasty?). Thank you to everyone who shared, to everyone who wasn't mean, and to everyone who is still reading this blog even after learning that I hear voices and indoctrinate my children. I have the best readers in the world.

So we've had the small talk. We've had the deep conversation. All that's left now is to collectively answer the most important issues facing the world today, via online poll.

If at any point you don't see an option you like, feel free to expound in the comments. (Although I intentionally limited the options so you'd have to choose. Mwa-ha-ha!). The first poll is for me. The rest are for the world.

Note: if you're on Reader or e-mail, you'll have to click through for the polls.

UPDATE: There may be some problems with voting. Try voting anyway, and with luck they'll sort themselves out. Otherwise, uh...have a nice weekend I guess.

And here you thought today was going to be even harder than Wednesday. (Heck, maybe it was. Choosing between Picard and New Kirk? That's like asking me to choose my left or right eyeball.)

Your Call: New Look

After God knows how many years of the same thirty-eight templates, Blogger has finally joined the 21st century with, not just new templates, but customizability (thanks to fairyhedgehog for the heads up). That means (1) I wasted my entire Saturday morning playing with it and (2) Author's Echo is about to get a new look.

But I can't decide on a background (I'll tweak fonts and colors later). I figured, since you guys will probably be looking at my blog more than I do,* you should be the ones to decide. I've narrowed it down to the four choices below; click the images for a larger version. The poll is at the end (if you're reading this in your e-mail, RSS reader, on Facebook, etc. you'll have to click through to vote).

* Most of my interaction with the blog is through the dashboard and e-mail, honestly.





(If you can't see the poll, click here).

Thanks for voting. Feel free to make further comments in the comments, as I reserve the right to ignore the results of the poll in favor of a really persuasive argument.

Your Call: New Working Title

For over a year, I've been using the working title Joey Stone for my next project. The name came from a short story I wrote about a powerful psionic-in-training believed guilty of treason like his father.

Unfortunately, that title and storyline is 100% obsolete. So I need a new working title, one that does as much of the following as possible (in order of importance): (1) makes you want to know more about the story, (2) conveys a sense of the world, (3) conveys a sense of the plot.

I know that's totally subjective and that there's no perfect title that does all three really well. Clearly, in situations like this, the best thing to do is to use an unscientific online poll:

I'd like you to vote without any more knowledge of the story, so please vote before reading on. If after reading the blurb below you change your mind, or think you have a better title than the options above, feel free to say so in the comments:

Suriya thought she'd hid her powers pretty well, until a group of Chinese bounty hunters comes after her. She escapes using her ability to call fire, but the fire gets out of her control and destroys an entire Chiang Mai city block. Even worse, now everybody knows what she is.

More bounty hunters come, but Suriya finds unexpected help from a woman named Charity.
They don't speak the same language, but Suriya understands when Charity speaks directly into her mind. She says Suriya is one of the Cunning - a group of people born with fantastic abilities. Charity wants to take her to the US where she can be trained.

Suriya wants to trust Charity, but when she overhears her speaking with the bounty hunters in Chinese, she wonders if Charity is telling the truth. She wonders if she can really trust anybody.