Hey readers! Nessa here.
I’m more or less on time but I’m going to dive right in because I had a burst (more like a brick thrown at my head) of inspiration while discussing something on a facebook thread in a writing group I’m in.
So you guys know I’m a stickler about clichés, right? I know… I sound like a broken record. But someone just said something to me, as more or less a veteran of the group, that struck a chord. I’ve heard it so many times before and it never really registered until now.
Basic rundown of the conversation:
Them: *asking about title ideas they have*
Myself and other members: “In all honesty they sound cliché, I wouldn’t personally pick up a book with that title because it sounds like a thousand other books.”
Them: “Okay okay they sound cliché but trust me the actual stories aren’t.”
Does anyone see the problem with this mindset, as innocent as it is?
Yes? No? Maybe so?
Alright so let’s say that the stories really aren’t cliché (although as mean as this sounds 99% of the times I’ve had writers say this to me the stories were in fact rather overdone). It’s quite possible. A truly unique and well-written story, dare I say masterpiece, is masked by a sub-par title or stereotypical back cover blurb. It’s very plausible. I’m certain it’s happened.
But, though you may know it’s not cliché, the readers aren’t in your mind. They don’t know the hours and hours of work you put into your book making it stand apart from the rest. All they see is a half-ass title drowning in a sea of similarly half-assed titles (sorry if this is harsh but that’s how I see it). I mean, if you were able to put the skill and dedication into creating a NOVEL (50K+ words!) that is both unconventional and great it just seems like laziness that you couldn’t extend that effort to what is essentially your book’s first impression: everything written on the cover.
You know the saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? Yeah… everyone does it. For me its this order:
- Cover art
Call me shallow but these things can prevent me from picking up what may well be a wonderful creation. If all three of those things are present, I’ll read the book. Sometimes two exceptionally well done of the three elements will override one lacklustre element and I’ll read it anyway but don’t count on it.
Back to the point. Sometimes it is difficult to be unbiased with your babies. It’s hard to separate yourself from the project. It’s so easy to forget that all that background knowledge in your head doesn’t translate to the audience. Something that makes perfect sense to you won’t to a reader because they didn’t experience or craft it themselves.
It’s a difficult thing to overcome because you can’t press a magic button and poof forget everything about the project in order to see it with fresh eyes. Here is where I again suggest beta readers. Betas are wonderful! They are essentially a test for real audiences without the risk, and its better because they can help you polish off the more jagged edges.
Most authors look for betas in the final stages of a novel but I like to use them whenever I can, often when I get stuck in the mud. They’re such inspirational little nuggets and there’s no brainstorming buddy like a beta. You can even have them go into it with specific requests.
So you can’t think of a non-cliché title? Round up your betas and ask them to keep it in mind while reading. Someone so much less attached to the project will pick up on the elements you best relayed without all the prior knowledge you possess, and they’ll come up with some wicked titles for you. Same with synopsises, tag lines… all that fun front-cover stuff.
Just whenever your discussing ideas and you hear yourself uttering the accursed words but trust me it’s not cliché… Well, how do we know?
Chew it over.
Til next time, lovelies.