tarablogphoto2013I like titles that POP. Snap and crackle, too, if they can. Most of my best book ideas begin as poppy, snappy titles. I know that “high concept” picture books sell—both to the publisher and to the public—so I think in that direction.

Therefore, my writing process often begins with a title and builds from there. Sometimes, as in my latest manuscript, the title is so inspiring, I begin writing immediately and words just spill out. I can envision the entire book from the title alone.

Other times, the title comes quickly but it doesn’t make me want to write. The idea needs to marinate. I think and stare at my computer. I could be thinking and not writing for days—and I don’t beat myself up over this process. I don’t feel guilty about not writing every day. This is just how I work. If I were to begin writing before I felt the idea was ready, the manuscript would be a mess. Yes, there’s always revision, but I prefer STARING before committing words to paper (or, more accurately, screen). It’s why I often say my process is 99% staring and only 1% writing.

Delicious Pie Chart by the talented Carter Higgins

Delicious Pie Chart by the talented Carter Higgins

Prompt #8: Let’s kick the year off with a title exercise.

Lie down on the floor, lift both legs at once, count to 20…

Sorry, did you really do that? I was just kidding.

Instead, take a picture book title that you really love. Now, write the first few pages of the book with YOUR story. Don’t repeat the story that the author wrote, but come up with a new story based only upon the title. How would you do the story differently? Don’t stop to edit; let the title be your guide and just go for it.

Do this two more times with existing picture book titles.

Next, look at your list of PiBoIdMo ideas. Were any titles? Start writing. Give it a shot. If there are no titles, take one of your ideas and create a catchy title.  You can do this with interior rhyme, alliteration, by smooshing words together to create a new word, or by tweaking a popular phrase. These are just a few of my title tricks.

So writing with a title in mind—how did it go? If it went well, then keep going. If it didn’t, take time to STARE. It works for me—99% of the time.

blogger bio iconA Bit About Tara

You can find Tara Lazar at her extremely witty, creative and massively helpful blog.  But Tara is more than just a pretty face on a helpful blog that helps thousands of authors chase their publication dreams through the PiBoIdMo challenge.  She is also the author of THE MONSTORE (Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster), I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin, Sept. 2014), LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House, Oct. 2105), and 7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY  (Disney*Hyperion 2016).

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