Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Finding a title for your book is tough. So many possibilities! I have time to come up with mine still because I'm maybe 40% into my first draft, but the issue continues to vex me.

Yes, I used the word "vex." I like it. Sue me.

One strategy I use is to find cool quotes that deal with themes or issues in the book. I'm considering using such quotes at the top of each chapter, or maybe just one quote at the beginning of the book. Regardless, sometimes the quote has a phrase in it that makes a nice title. Shakespeare and the Bible have been pillaged for book titles - Something Wicked This Way Comes springs to mind, but there are dozens more.

I recall a line from an Aeschylus play: "Still there drips in sleep against the mind/Grief of memory." I always liked "Grief of Memory" as a phrase but have yet to come up with an idea where it's an appropriate title. An obscure eighties song had some lyrics: "I met the devil at a party/we played power games./He out-sinistered me severely/I had to look away." Not great lyrics, but I love the pseudo word "out-sinistered." Not sure how that might be used in a title, but juicy words like Sinister and Nefarious often make good title fodder. But then I like turning odd nouns into verbs like that as well.

Thesauri are useful for titling. As is surfing and seeing what titles others in your genre (or other genres) have used. See what works for you and what doesn't. Come up with a huge list, then begin to whittle.

Say the titles out loud. This often weeds out the silly ones that might past muster if you only read them in your head. In fact, try reading all your fiction out loud to yourself. It's a great way to see what works and what doesn't.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Late Night TV Fix

Missing your late night television these days because of the writers' strike? Well, I have a stopgap measure that will help you get through these dark days without John Stewart and David Letterman.

The writers from Letterman's "Late Night" show have started a blog. It's funny as hell. A must read, regardless of your take on the strike. Occasional political jokes speckle the posts there, just to give you a small political humor fix.

Then, Comedy Central has finally done John Stewart's "The Daily Show" justice by making a very accessible archive of all their bits available. This is truly a treasure trove of political humor. Go back in time and see Steven Colbert before he got his own show and Steve Carrel before Forty Year Old Virgin and The Office. Search by any term - "Dick Cheney" or "Rob Corddry" or "elephant," and you'll get something hilarious. Check out this priceless piece as Steward and Corddry discuss the Dick Cheney shooting incident in 2006:

A World Without Writers

I'm sick of arguing about the writers strike. (For the record, I sympathize mostly with the writers, although I am not in the WGA and I work for a studio. A prolonged strike might lead to me getting laid off.) People have actually YELLED at me about this, and have gone on yelling for minutes at a time. The whole topic now gives me a headache. I will say that if you a provider of creative content of any kind, you might want to pay attention.

BUT - this video is pretty funny, and can be appreciated no matter what you think of the strike.

Monday, November 12, 2007

13,000 words and counting...

So I've written about 13,000 words since November 1.

Well, I've actually written more than that, but I couldn't resist the urge to rewrite. I got some good feedback from my critique group and wanted to follow their suggestions while they were still fresh in my head, so I went back and renovated the first couple of scenes in my book.

So I'm still way behind in my ambition to write 50,000 words this month. Don't know exactly where I should be, but today is November 12, not that far from the halfway mark. By the 15th, I should've written 25,000 words, and there's no way I'll make up the difference and write 12,000 more words in three days. Truth is, worry about the writers strike/my job/other life issues has taken a bit of a toll. Nonetheless, I have written something every single day this month. I really hope to establish this as a life long habit, and so far so good.

So I am not downcast. I'm 13,000 words into my novel! And lots of it is actually good! At this rate I will be more than halfway done with it by the end of the month. And if I have a blast of energy and creativity, I may actually get close to done. Hee hee! Writing is fun! I've actually come up with a very viable idea for another novel series even as I bash away at this series. Creativity breeds further creativity. I feel quite happy in spite of possible job loss looming before me.

Productivity plus creativity equals happiness. At least for me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Download Me! I'm in a Podcast

My friend Pilar Alessandra has a popular podcast about screenwriting, and this week she asked me to join her and share my so-called expertise on TV writing and development with her listeners. I was one of two guests, the other a great TV writer, and we discussed the current WGA strike, how being a writer's assistant leads to being a writer, and other aspects of writing for television. All this while sipping beers and having a few laughs! It's fun, it's free, and it's about 30 minutes long. You can click on the link below and then click on Ep. 10 to hear it. Or search on ITunes for "On the Page: Screenwriting" and you'll be able to download Ep. 10 for free there as well.

Hey, I'm just glad I don't sound like too much of an idiot... And I'm grabbing my five seconds of "fame" while I can!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gah! Falling behind...

So I haven't been particularly good about writing these past few days. Last night I had a meeting with my critique group (great feedback, guys!), got home, gabbed on the phone for an hour, and then collapsed into bed. Work is surprisingly busy. Surprising because you'd think with the writer's strike there'd be tumbleweeds blowing through here.

Well, that's my excuse, anyway!

And now I really want to rewrite the first couple of scenes rather than forge ahead with new scenes! Ack! What to do!?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Why We Invaded Iraq

This week's comic strip from Berkeley Breathed explains so much...
Click on it to make it larger and easier to read.

NaNo count - 3639

Mixed success on the writing front for NaNoWriMo - only about 3600 words so far, and we're five days in. I'm behind at least 1700 words.

BUT - I had a nice Sunday at my last screenwriting class, recorded a podcast for a friend, and had delicious stew at a close friends house and saw some folks I hadn't seen in ages.

As soon as the podcast is available on ITunes, I'll post about it. My friend Pilar has a popular free podcast about screenwriting, and she asked me to sit in as one of her guests to discuss the WGA strike and writing for television. It's quite fun, and informative. At least I hope so! I'll have to listen to myself and make sure I don't sound like a fool...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day One Word Count

Success! As of 7:10pm tonight, I'd written 1829 words of my novel, more than the daily average of 1667 I was shooting for.

Now I can watch 30 Rock and The Office guilt free!

National Novel Writing Month - Day 1

NaNoWriMo begins today. The goal is to write 50,000 words of your novel in the month of November, which means a daily average of 1,667. As Homer Simpson would say - "A-bah!"

So I got up an hour early today to write.

Yes, really.

Those who know me, know that this is a big deal. I am not a morning person. Most days I sleep until 8am to be at work by 9:30am. (Ah, Hollywood!) But today my alarm went off at 7am, frightening the cats. I listened to the news on KCRW, trying to justify pressing the snooze button. But no dice. I got up, got ready for work, then sat down to write just a few minutes after 8am. I don't drink coffee. That may change if this keeps up...

I wrote 644 words in that hour. Not bad. But - I need two more hours like that today and I'll more than have the daily wordcount covered. That sounds easy, but it isn't, especially since I'm tired from getting up an hour early.

Then I have to do it all over again tomorrow. And then the day after that. And the day after that...

This whole writing thing is hard work. Dang!

The only good thing for me that might come out of a writers strike here in Hollywood is that work will slow down considerably and I may be able to write while at work. Heck, if I get laid off, I could end up writing 100,000 words!

Oy. Let's hope THAT doesn't happen.

I'll post an honest daily word count tomorrow. Wish me luck!