Coming Up with a Creative and Memorable Title: Tips and Exercises

Titles are your first attempt to get readers interested in your story, and we all know how important first impressions are! But coming up with a title that’s not only creative and memorable but also accurately reflects the essence of your work can be a daunting task. So, how do you make the process a bit easier? Here are some tips and exercises to help you come up with the perfect title for your book or story.

-Summarize your story in one sentence: Start by summarizing your story in one sentence. This will give you a clear idea of what your story is about and what themes you want to highlight.

-Play with words: Once you have a clear idea of the main theme of your story, start playing with words related to your theme. Write down different combinations of words that capture the essence of your story. 

-Use literary devices: Utilize literary devices such as alliteration, rhyme, or puns to make your title stand out.

-Look to the classics: Take inspiration from the classics. Consider how each title relates to the specific story and how you can apply that to your own work.

-Get feedback: Share your potential titles with friends, family, or writing peers for their input. Getting feedback from others can help you refine your title and make sure it reflects the tone you intend.

-Try the “Elevator Pitch” exercise: Imagine you have only 30 seconds to pitch your story to a publisher or reader. The longer it takes for you to get to the point, the more work you have to do to refine your idea.

-Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try different titles. You may have to go through several different options before you find the right one.

In conclusion, coming up with a title for your book or story can be a challenging task, but with these tips and exercises, you can make the process a bit easier and come up with a title that accurately reflects the essence of your work and captures the reader’s attention. So, don’t stress too much, have fun with the process, and trust your instincts!

Finding Time to Write: Balancing a Busy Life

Let’s start with a simple truth: writing is a priority. If you want to make it a part of your daily routine, you need to treat it like one. And the good news is, you don’t need hours and hours to get some words down.

Here are some tips to help you carve out that precious writing time:

Get up early or stay up late. If you’re not a morning person, this may not be the best option for you, but if you’re able to wake up even just 15 minutes earlier, you’ll have some quiet, uninterrupted time to write. If you’re a night owl, try staying up just a little bit later to get some writing done.

Schedule your writing time. If you’re someone who thrives on structure, try scheduling your writing time into your day like you would a meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Make it non-negotiable.

Use your lunch break. If you have a job that requires you to be in an office, try using your lunch break to write. Even just 20 minutes can make a huge difference.

Write in small increments. You don’t have to write for hours on end. Just write for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Those little bursts of creativity can add up and help you stay motivated.

Make it a family affair. If you have a partner or children, try involving them in your writing journey. Explain to them how important writing is to you and ask for their support. You may be surprised at how willing they are to help.

Get creative with your writing space. If you’re having trouble finding a quiet spot to write, try writing outside, in a coffee shop, or even in your car. Sometimes a change of scenery can help get your creative juices flowing.

Focus on results. One thing that worked for me when I started was concentrating on words written, not minutes used. I would set a minimum daily count of just 250 words. Most days, I wrote more than that, but 250 was the low bar I set for myself in case my day went completely crazy.

In conclusion, finding time to write is all about making it a priority and getting creative with your schedule. Remember, every little bit counts, so don’t be afraid to start small. Happy writing!

The Plot vs. The Point

Confusing the plot and the point of a story is a common mistake, even for experienced writers.

For example, if someone were to ask about the plot of the first Avengers movie, they may get a shot-by-shot retelling of the events, but that’s not what the story is about. It’s about a group of individuals who are used to working alone, learning to work together to overcome a greater threat. The characters’ struggle to work together as a team is the main theme of the story.

Similarly, Major Decision follows a 7th-grade boy who dives into the world of wrestling to avoid the guilt he feels over his older brother’s injury. While the plot includes rival challenges, and old friends trying to drag the boy back to his old habits, the story is ultimately about taking responsibility for one’s actions and developing agency.

In Captain Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, the plot may include James’ life being changed forever by Peter Pan, the ship, the pirates, the island, and the croc. But, the story is really about a mortal standing up against a supernatural, dangerous, chaotic, uncaring, and savage being. It’s about resistance and resilience in the face of death.

One of the comments on a recent video asked about the difference between plot and point in a story. The commenter wrote about a character who is the only one who can see the doppelgänger villain, who is trying to force them to do awful things. The story is not about the scenes and events, but rather the fear of losing control over the life the character has built for themselves. A doppelgänger is a reflection of the character, capable of all their actions and choices, and possesses all their memories and attachments. The stakes in the story are the life the character has built for themselves and the fear of losing it to the evil reflection.

Another example of a doppelgänger story is Spider-Man and Venom. When Peter Parker found the Symbiote on Battleworld during Secret Wars, it seemed like a blessing. He was stronger and faster, but he would wake up exhausted because the Symbiote was taking over his body at night. Peter started to question whether he was using enough force to stop people from hurting each other and whether he was tough enough. When Spider-Man and the Symbiote split, Venom became an evil reflection of what Spider-Man could do if he let go of his humanity. The story is about Peter’s fear of losing control and his refusal to use arbitrary punishment as a deterrent. Venom represents freedom from that fear, but Peter recognizes the consequences are not worth the momentary satisfaction.

So, what is your main character afraid of? What is your story about? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to hear it.

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Embracing ChatGPT as Educators

Without growth, life would be a never-ending Groundhog Day, with the same mistakes being made over and over again. This can be especially true in the field of education.

It is crucial to stay informed about new technologies that may enhance the learning experience for our students. One such technology that has recently caught national attention is ChatGPT, an AI program that uses advanced algorithms and a large amount of text data to understand and respond to questions and statements in a way that mimics human conversation.

While the thought of using ChatGPT in the classroom may raise questions, it’s important to remember that new technology, including educational technology, has often been met with apprehension and resistance in the past. Concerns about the cost and time required for implementation, fear of change and the unknown, and the potential for technology to replace traditional teaching methods are all valid and reasonable reactions.

That being said…

The Danielson Framework, widely used to assess and improve teaching practices, is divided into four domains: planning and preparation, the classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities.

“Flexibility and responsiveness” is part of the instruction domain. This component evaluates how teachers adjust their instruction to meet the needs of all students in the classroom. It looks at how teachers use various teaching strategies, including differentiated instruction, to respond to the needs of their students.

And just like in the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors breaks out of a cycle of misery by changing his behavior, educators should approach new technologies with the same mindset. By investing energy in learning more about ChatGPT, we can make the most of its potential benefits while being mindful of any potential downsides. Either that or we invest twice as much energy policing the technology we refuse to learn. I hate to evoke an “either/or” fallacy, but I’ve seen it go this way for the last twenty years of my career and I’d like to avoid it this time around.

The OpenAI website and their GitHub page are great resources to learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities. Additionally, websites such as EdSurge and EdTech Magazine provide tutorials, guides, and resources on how to use ChatGPT in the classroom.

While ChatGPT is still in development and its impact on education is not yet clear, it’s worth exploring how it can be used in a way that enhances the learning experience for our students.


Dynamic Character Development in 2023

The new year starts with grueling self-inflicted changes, but why do so very few of those changes last? Fiction has the answer, or at least the structure of fiction suggests one… 

Most people are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. He articulated this story structure in 1949 and it still holds up as a blueprint for a main character’s dynamic change. These short sentences should sound familiar because they are the plot of most of the stories you have read or watched in your lifetime:

A hero leaves the status quo to address an issue. They develop new approaches and attitudes to better deal with this problem because their old ways don’t work. Finally, the hero returns home different than they were before. The end.

Joseph Campbell wrote down seventeen (17) steps, but I am not going through each of them for you right now because each step isn’t exactly relevant to this conversation. 

The part that I want to discuss is the necessary change that the hero goes through to be successful. I used the word dynamic earlier on purpose because dynamic characters change. Characters who don’t change are called static

Real change happens when we are forced to adapt to challenges that will not be resolved by doing things the old way. It doesn’t matter whether the new habit is about trusting others, working with a team, learning to work on your own, accepting responsibility, or learning how to let things go, the hero needs to be torn from their comfort and forced to act in a way that is going to help them succeed.

The cold reality is that most of us aren’t willing to go through that in our daily lives and I don’t blame you. Comfort is comfortable. This is often why we see the most growth and change in ourselves after a traumatic loss or an unexpected setback. And that makes it harder, because who wants to change when everything seems okay? Yeah, we know it could be better, but that requires work, and sometimes work is hard to justify when things are just fine.

My suggestion? Put yourself through the Hero’s Journey. What is your antagonist right now? Relationships? Setting time aside to write? Starting a new career? Write down what you have been doing to address it (or avoid it). Are you solving the problem or are you managing your discomfort? 

Once you figure out what you need to get done, you can start figuring out how to do it. Joseph Campbell suggests a mentor. There are professionals who do this, but friends and family members work fine as long as you can trust them. 

Don’t worry about stiff and declarative resolutions. Intentions are more of a direction than a destination, which reduces some of the pressure. 

Did you want to read more books? Get a library card, download the Libby app, and download e-books and audiobooks from your public library for free. Listen during your commute to work or read on your phone while waiting at the dentist’s office.

Did you want to start writing? Find one hour a day in which you are left alone and get typing. It doesn’t have to be a lot of words at first. Just enough to build the habit. Once you develop that inertia, things will be a lot easier.

Achieve your own dynamic character development in 2023.

My intention for 2023 is to talk with people who share my passion for story structure, character development, and all of that nerdy trash because it makes me smile and gives me an opportunity to review how I can get better at what I enjoy doing. 

So why not help me get off to a good start by subscribing and commenting? 

I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve got planned for 2023. 

Talk soon.


Learn more about the Hero’s Journey: