Monday, August 5, 2013

A Step in the Write Direction--Choosing a Title--August 5, 2013

A Step in the Write Direction
August 5, 2013
A somewhat busy week: Almost done with a 409-page editing job; just have to read it over one more time; and finished a 147-page proofing job. Then had a chance to send out four of my books to different publishers…. Heard a song the other night by the Oak Ridge Boys that caused me to think. Part of the words go like this: “Did I make a difference in somebody's life?...When my race is run, when my song is sung, Will I have to wonder, did I make a difference?” I remember a speaker at a writers’ conference once asking, “So you’ve sold ‘x’ amount of books and articles. The question is, ‘Have you changed someone’s life?’” Good question for Christian writers to ask themselves!
Thought for the Day:
Mr. Meant To has a comrade,
And his name is Didn’t Do;
Have you ever chanced to meet them?
Did they ever call on you?
These two fellows live together
In the house of Never Win;
And I’m told that it is haunted
By the ghost of Might Have Been.
Laugh for the Day:
An old farmer at an insurance company reported that his barn burned down and wanted to collect cash for the loss. But the insurance agent said they won’t give cash, but they would replace the old building with a new one built in the same size and shape. The farmer then said, “If that’s your policy, I want to cancel my insurance on my wife.”
Writers’ Tips:
Choosing a Title
After typing your personal and manuscript information, center your title about one-third down the page. Make it catchy enough to hook the editor, and then the reader. Some writers say it doesn’t matter what title you put on your manuscript, the editor will change it anyway. But if you come up with a good title, a busy editor will gladly keep it. Plus, it will grab his attention even if he changes it later.
In choosing a title, you can use part of a Scripture verse or another quotation, the title of a song, or a thought relating to the story’s theme. I used a phrase from Scripture, “Such As I Have,” for a short story; for an article on upholstery “The Great Cover-Up”; and for an article on water beds (back when they were popular), I used the quotation, “Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink.”
I’ve found that numbers also work well in titles. An article I wrote on buying the perfect present called “Gifts That Make a Difference” never sold. But after I changed the title to “100-Plus Gifts That Make a Difference,” I sold it several times.
Someday while you’re standing in a checkout line, take a look at the titles of articles on the front of magazines. Do they tempt you to read the rest of the article? One of my friends sold an article entitled “My Father Never Told Me He Loved Me.” Wouldn’t you love to read on to see how this affected the writer? Did it leave her angry, or did it make her determined to show more love to her child?
Don’t use a clever title just to attract your readers, and then give them an article that doesn’t follow through with the theme. (For example, a splashy headline in a tabloid about a health scare a popular singer was ashamed to admit turned out to be only a weight problem.)
Another hint is to tie your title in with the opening or closing paragraph of your article, or both. A travel article on Yuma, Arizona, titled “Yuma, the Swinging Gate,” begins with the thought that Yuma is the gateway into Arizona for those coming from California and into California for Arizonians. After describing the town’s history and then bringing the reader up-to-date on its progress, the final paragraph repeats the opening thought by saying, “Yuma is not only a gateway swinging into California and Arizona, but it also swings into the past with pride and into the future with confidence.”
What’s in a title? Plenty, if it catches the eye of an editor and leads to a sale.
Enjoy your week spreading the
gospel through the printed page!
Donna Clark Goodrich

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