Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Importance of Comp Titles for Fiction and Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Finding comp titles for the novels or memoirs you are creating is important for a few reasons. First, seeking similar titles helps the writer actually see what has been published recently in their genre, on their topic. It shows the writer what’s selling and perhaps why.

However, you are not only reading a possible comp title to see how it is like your work-in-progress. You should be reading the title to see how your book fits into the literary landscape on the topic or in the genre. How is your book different from the titles that are already out there? It’s not that we want to write something that is exactly the same as what is already out there. We want to write on the same topic, or in the same genre, but handle the problem—or tension—in a unique way.    

This is what makes writing so difficult. Creating a story with both internal and external tension is not cookie-cutter science. Yes, as writers we realize that certain plot points—I call them movements—need to happen at certain times in the story. I know particular genres need their “specifics” in stories, too.

But as far as I can see, it’s not the same old, same old—even in specific genres. In my YA adventures, I need more than just a different setting, a different national park. I need different external problems, different family situations, different characters who have specific internal troubles they are trying to overcome.

We read comp titles to see how our stories are similar just as much as to see how they are different.

Comp titles are also necessary for preparing a book proposal for traditional presses. Book publishing is a business. Gone are the days in which writers just sat and wrote. 

Nuts! I was born too late. That’s what I like to do.

Now writers need to be marketers as well. That’s a whole other topic I’m just learning about. Please offer any tips you may have. Thanks!

However, I believe comp titles can help even small presses or self-publishers because comp titles show the writer what’s out there in that literary landscape. And knowing what’s out there will help the writer to market his or her books. Writers will know where to place their titles.

I’ve been looking for recent memoir titles to read dealing with education or personal experience in college. I’ve read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Educated by Tara Westover, and J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. They all deal with the protagonist realizing he or she needed an education to move forward in life.

I may need to broaden my searches. I should consider inspirational works; the power of choices, of believing in yourself, of finding or beginning a dream and seeing it through with perseverance. I think there are different genres for memoir. I think there is one called “Life Experience.” I should go to Amazon and take a look at life experience memoirs.

*Please offer any recent memoir titles you’ve read that deal with life experiences; trying to better yourself or learning to believe in oneself, so I can add them to my reading list and see if they could be used as comp titles for my college memoir. I truly appreciate all your comments. They help me to move forward with my work.*

So how do you look for comp titles for your books? Please share any insight you may have here at Adventures in Writing.

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

            My family camping photographs of national and state parks, in caves or mighty forests or on mountains or rivers and lakes have inspired many an adventure short story. You can see some of these photographs at my Camping with Five Kids blog.

Most recently, hiking in the Adirondack Mountains in New York inspired one of my current works in progress that I spoke about last month. 

I think I’ve got the pacing, when the protagonist finally realizes that because his father believed in him, he needs to believe in himself. I’ve got to make sure the emotion is there. That’s the difficult part for me. I’ve got so much going on in the short story—only 1800 words, remember—that many times I forget to leave word space to show emotions. How do you tuck in telling emotions in story?
The boulder scramble to the
top of Mt. Marcy Adirondack
Mountains in New York.
Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences with allergic reactions and helping me understand why and how to use the EpiPen last month. I’ve learned so much and hope to get back to that story shortly. First I need to be brave enough to let go and send out my Adirondack story. One story at a time, Vic, one story at a time.

I find photographs, especially of personal experiences, extremely helpful in story creation. Not only can they give you a visual reminder of a place, but if you study the photograph or a painting of a particular place, you can wrap your mind around questions to ask through story. What if questions. Deeply penetrating questions. Why is the protagonist here? What is he doing? What is he running away from or trying to hide from? What is he trying to make sense of in his life?

Try it yourself. Pick up any photograph or gaze deeply into a piece of artwork. Study the faces of the people in them. What could they be thinking about? What problems are they trying to solve? Describe them. Better yet, create them!

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing game.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.