Getting the Most out of Writing Groups: The Cot

Has your book been workshopped? This is one of the first questions I ask a writer who is looking for an editor. It’s even a good question to ask of someone who just wants a critique.

“Workshopping” a piece of writing means submitting it to a group of writers and asking for feedback. It also means listening to the feedback and frequently involves rewriting your piece, if your group is on its toes and you are capable of accepting constructive criticism. Continue reading


Four Ways to Reveal Character: A Different Take

If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a million times: “The four ways to reveal character in fiction are action, speech, appearance, thought.” My observation of what creates a memorable character is slightly different. In my view, speech and appearance exhibit personality, but personality (persona) is only one aspect of a character. Also, appearance is often modified by behavior. Continue reading

Naming Your Book: Weird Can Work

How fun. Lulu has a Titlescorer feature on their website. Enter the name of your next book’s ingenious (so you think) would-be title and see how your bright idea stacks up. Of course, there is a caveat:

The Lulu Titlescorer is a useful tool, which, in Lulu’s 50-year study of some 700 novels, proved 40% better than random guess-work in guessing whether a particular title had produced a bestseller or not. “It guessed right in nearly 70% of cases,” says Dr Atai Winkler. “Given the nature of the data and the way tastes change, this is very good — better than we might have expected.”

Even so, this is not an exact science. Far from it. In fact, Dr. Winkler advises that the Lulu Titlescorer should, in practice, always be combined with use of your own low-tech judgement.

This is because, for all the work that went it, the Lulu Titlescorer is capable of giving high scores to titles that most of us would rate as weird, if not terrible. Meanwhile, of course, it also gives low scores to the titles of novels (e.g. The Da Vinci Code) which, in fact, topped the New York Times bestseller list for long periods.

So, as well as using the Titlescorer to test the merits of your own title, you can also play around with it to see what is the worst or downright weirdest title you can come up with that still earns a high score. Give it a whirl.

On the same page, they’ve also got a link to their Titlefight where you can pit two titles against one another.

Thumbnail photo courtesy pschubert on morgueFile