Aug 24 2007

Writing Titles that Sell (Novels and Chapters)

Published by at 3:57 pm under Titles,Writing Articles

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

This article will cover how to write novel titles that sell and when/how to name your chapters.

Most readers will look at two things before deciding whether to shelf your book: your title and your cover-art. Of these, you control only the title.

An effective title usually connects emotionally with readers (Heart of Darkness, Return of the King). Some may suggest an unusual premise or plot, like His Majesty’s Dragon. Others suggest an unusual reading experience, like Barbara Bloodbath or Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space.

Building Emotional Connections
If your title doesn’t affect your readers, they will put your book down. One way to come up with emotionally effective titles is to brainstorm a list of words that relate to your book–particularly, forceful and evocative nouns. For example, if you’re writing a book about a rebel, The Rebel would probably fail because it’s boring. What else is in your book? Let’s say the rebel’s personal growth is an important theme. The Rebel’s Growth doesn’t work either, so let’s try using a thesaurus. Growth is a synonym of rise, which is a synonym of ascension. The Rise of the Rebel and The Rebel’s Ascension are both better.

Slight changes to your title’s structure can hugely affect its emotional impact. For example, The Return of the King is a great title, but The Returning King is awful. The words are the same, but the rhythm and style have changed.

You can also try tweaking your word-choice. “Return” and “King” both have great, robust sounds and flair. By contrast, “Homecoming of the Monarch” is lousy. Even though the literal meaning is identical, the sound is off. In addition to the sound and style, word-choice can also affect the mood and feel of the title. For example, His Majesty’s Dragon is different than The King’s Dragon because HMD suggests that the dragons are like the British navy, His Majesty’s Ships. Just from the title, you can tell that HMD has historicity and realism (besides the dragons, obviously).

Some works, particularly sword-and-spell fantasies, make the substantial error of using a made-up word in the title. Nothing is less likely to emotionally affect a potential reader than a word he hasn’t seen before. Place-names are particularly weak. Character names are reasonably weak. As a rule, most character names are not strong enough to intrigue potential readers. (There are some exceptions, like Barbara Bloodbath).

Character names usually work better in chapter titles. By the time your readers are reading the chapter, they will have some emotional investment in the character. Something like “Paingod, Humanitarian” might intrigue you if you already knew that Paingod is humanitarian mainly as far as he’s not vegetarian. As a rule, character names that can interest prospective readers are typically a bit sinister and exotic (like Barbara Bloodbath, Paingod, Saddam Hussein, etc.) In contrast, names like Harry Potter are usually too boring to entice readers on their own. (In such cases, it’s usually best to add some other element, as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

Suggests an Unusual Premise
There are two especially strong reasons to use your title to suggest the premise or plot. One, your premise is so cool and fresh that it sells itself, like His Majesty’s Dragon. Two, your premise and/or reading experience are odd enough that you need to reach for a niche market, as in Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space. This sort of wacky title is more prevalent in children’s literature.

Arouses Curiosity/Makes Readers Want to Know More
This is another unconventional, risky approach. If your title makes your readers curious enough that they open the book, great. The key is giving them enough to wonder. So You Want to be a Honey Master works only if readers wonder what a Honey Master is. What about The King’s Death? Most readers probably won’t care who the King is or wonder why he died. Giving us more information might draw readers into the story. For example, The King’s Dead (but I Swear it was an Accident) is probably a winner.

242 responses so far

242 Responses to “Writing Titles that Sell (Novels and Chapters)”

  1. Fryon 28 Jun 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Wow, always title chapters? I haven’t seen a serious novel with titled chapters or a table of contents since I was in grade-school. Let me just look at some of the award winning books on my shelf. Nope, no table of contents or named chapters. I call bullcrap on this one.

  2. B. Macon 28 Jun 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Hello, Fry! I looked at a few of the books on my shelf and found that most chaptered books tended to name the chapters, such as Harry Potter, the Narnia books, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the Bible, Soon I Will Be Invincible, Walking with Dragons, etc. On my political science shelf, I also have “Profiles in Courage,” “Making the Corps” and “The Terror Presidency,” all with named chapters. I think that all these books are generally regarded to be of literary merit, and Profiles won a Pulitzer.

    However, even if it were the case that not a single “serious” chaptered book had named chapters, I think it would be a sound move for the average novelist to name his. I think that most modern fiction, particularly fiction aimed to entertain a mass-market, is better served by a table of contents that looks interesting than a list of numbered chapters. I can only speak for myself, of course, but the witty table of contents for SIWBI convinced me to buy the book.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jacobon 30 Jun 2008 at 2:36 am

    @Fry:

    Are you writing to win awards or are you writing to sell books? I think B. Mac and Cadet Davis provide mostly useful writing advice here, but I’d take it with the caveat that their implicit focus seems to be to help authors maximize their mass-market appeal rather than their chances of winning literary awards.

    I agree with your point that named titles– particularly named titles that have an unusual style!– are likely to reduce the literary seriousness of a work. However, I think that B.M.’s point about making the table of contents a productive showcase for your work is a valid and probably more important consideration for mass-market authors. I agree with his factual premise that the large majority of chaptered books have tables of contents, and from there it seems at least plausible that making the table of contents more productive will promote sales.

    Yours.

    J.M.

  4. Cadet Davison 30 Jun 2008 at 10:10 am

    Quoting Jacob:

    I agree with your point that named titles… are likely to reduce the literary seriousness of a work.

    I don’t think that’s right. I think the chapter and section titles for JFK’s Profiles in Courage established a serious style and foreshadowed the substance without adding a whiff of frivolity. I’d say that even if you were writing to win literary acclaim, naming your chapters costs you literally nothing except for your time.

    I’d probably go farther than B.M. on this one, and say that not titling chapters is a mistake almost as bad as not naming the main character. The only reason I might not go that far is because you could probably get your book published without a table of contents. But why wouldn’t you want a table of contents? It will help readers navigate your book and can serve as a useful promotional tool… if your chapters are titled!

  5. Beccaon 30 Sep 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I do not believe in titled chapters, at least not for my own work. While books like Harry Potter can make use of chapter titles, I find that if I try to use them in my own fiction it either a) Seriously detracts from the mood (which is often melancholy), or b) accidentally makes a promise I can’t deliver. If it’s an epic work of fiction like Harry Potter or LOTR, a chapter title can make pretty justifiably grandiose statements about what’s going to happen next. However, if it’s my dramatic/sad YA novel about a couple of gay teenagers, it either interrupts the tone (if something problematic happens, a “And Now For Something Completely Different” title will kill it), or sets my writing up for failure (“The Most Amazing, Touching Love Scene Ever” is just inaccurate). I guess it’s that I just don’t know how in the hell to create them, let alone use them. Or possible, titling chapters isn’t always appropriate? Because when I think about my favourite books, no chapter titled books come to mind.

  6. Jacobon 30 Sep 2008 at 8:36 pm

    That’s a good point. With respect to B. Mac and Cadet Davis, whose writing advice is usually sound, chapter titles might not be as necessary as they argue. However, it is another tool at your disposal that might be worth considering.

    If you’d like to try chapter titles, I’d recommend focusing on creating a hook that is merely an interesting statement about what will follow rather than a grandiose, hard-to-deliver claim. Instead of something epic like “The Most Amazing, Touching Love Scene Ever,” you might call it something like “Quiet Love.” Instead of “Something Completely Different,” you might allude to the problem at hand or even generally to a foreboding mood.

  7. Anonymouson 02 Oct 2008 at 7:19 am

    What do you think of these three titles for the first three chapters of my book?

    Chapter One: Normality Is A Variable

    Chapter Two: The Land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies

    Chapter Three: Take A Picture, It’ll Last Longer

    Chapter two’s title isn’t directly related to the plot, but I think it will make readers want to know what the heck is going on. It refers to a minor character who frequently daydreams, or goes into “the land of the Happy-Cake-Fairies”.

  8. Cadet Davison 02 Oct 2008 at 7:46 am

    I like the first one and love the third one. (You might want to consider “Normal” instead of “Normality,” but I think either would be effective). My impression about the second is that it doesn’t have quite the seriousness of the other two and seems to be named after something that doesn’t sound all that important to the story. It’s, uhh, kind of hard for me to keep track of all the anonymous commenters now. Could you remind me what your manuscript is about? Is the second title in line with the tone of the book?

  9. Anonymouson 02 Oct 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Mine’s the one about the guy named Isaac who came from a parallel universe and was put into foster care with humans. I left a comment of “Your Title Is Bad, But You Can Fix It (Part 7)”, and there’s a more full explanation there. From now on, I shall be known as the ReTARDISed Whovian. (I love Doctor Who!)

  10. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Oct 2008 at 5:47 pm

    The second kind of fits with the tone of the book. It’s a bit more lighthearted than other superhero stories, and the main character makes little comments about the world around him and how “my actions don’t always come off as human as I’d like. Fortunately, in this society (I’m not sure about my own one), it just gets me labeled as a dork”.

  11. B. Macon 02 Oct 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t know about “Normality is a Variable.” My positive interpretation would be that it gives the story an overly-intellectual tone (which might be misaimed, depending on who your target audience is). A more negative interpretation would be that it sounds pretentious.

  12. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Oct 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Yeah, I guess. I tend to derive chapter titles for all my (amateur) works from in-chapter wording. Same with titles. It’s in first person, and in the first chapter, he tells us:

    “My name is Isaac, and I’m sixteen years old. That’s pretty much where I would normally stop telling you about myself, if I was normal. For me, normality is a variable, depending on whether the independent variable is my own species or humans. But I have to tell you everything for anything to make sense, so get ready for a description of an interesting albeit unfortunate life.”

  13. B. Macon 02 Oct 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Ah, OK. Your passage makes it sound like the sixteen year old is decidedly cerebral. In that case, the intellectual tone of the chapter’s title probably isn’t a mismatch.

  14. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Oct 2008 at 1:46 am

    I finished another two chapters today. Their titles are:

    Chapter Four: Save ‘n’ Sprint

    Chapter Five: An Overwhelming Desire To Take a Nap

    What do you think? And can you offer any good remedies for writer’s block? I want to be prepared when that curse strikes me down.

    Thanks!

  15. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 9:00 am

    I’m decidedly intrigued by “An Overwhelming Desire to Take a Nap.” The word overwhelming works excellently there.

    I didn’t like Save ‘n’ Sprint as much. It feels kind of like an in-joke that I don’t get. Is it a reference to something? If so, will your target audience get the reference?

    As for writer’s block, I recommend forcing yourself to write until you’ve spent 60-90 minutes and have two pages done each day. Your pages don’t have have to be excellent, or even good. Don’t rewrite anything or waste too much time on description. After a month, you should have 60+ pages that will probably look something like a rough account of what the characters do. Then you can go back and do things like adding description and tinkering with the word-choice.

  16. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Oct 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Well, save ‘n’ sprint is kind of like a dine ‘n’ dash, where you run out of a restaurant without paying. But Save ‘n’ Sprint is the chapter where Isaac makes his first rescue, and sprints away because he isn’t properly disguised and is afraid of someone seeing his face. So, he pulls a “save ‘n’ sprint”.

    Thanks for the advice on writer’s block! I’m on a roll right now, but as always, I’ll be stricken with WB at some point.

    The ReTARDISed Whovian

  17. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Hmm. That’s an interesting idea for a chapter, but I’m not sold on the title. It makes sense when you explain it, but you can’t really explain it before-hand to your readers. What do you think about something like “Fight and Flight”? (The fight is to save the girl, and then the flight is to get away from her).

  18. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:32 pm

    That could work! Thanks!

    I’m having trouble for a title for chapter six, though.

    It’s after Isaac gets home from work and makes dinner for his foster family, they have some pleasant conversation which reveals a few things about each person, then the news comes on and there’s footage of Isaac’s first rescue. So he freaks a little because it was a spur of the moment thing and is afraid that someone might recognize him. Any suggestions? I’m tearing my hair out here.

    Thanks!

  19. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:46 pm

    “Even Superheroes Eat” or “Living the Lie,” maybe. I like LTL better because the heart of this chapter is probably less about them eating and more about him trying to live a double-life.

  20. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Okay, thanks! I like “Living The Lie” better, too.

  21. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Oct 2008 at 5:28 am

    What do you think of these?

    Chapter Seven: In An Old Movie

    Chapter Eight: Hey, Teacher! Leave That Freak Alone!

    Chapter seven has this passage about the school he attends:

    “We walked through the large wooden doors of our school, which had been built way back in first settler days. As a result, it was old and a bit creepy, which made me love it. It made me feel like I was in an old movie.”

    Chapter eight is set in one of his classes, where his teacher doesn’t particularly like him. Plus it’s a bit of a reference to a song that a lot of people have heard. I know it’s kind of an in-joke that may be lost on a few people, but I like it.

  22. B. Macon 04 Oct 2008 at 6:40 am

    I got the Pink Floyd reference, but I think that a lot of readers will feel like they’re missing something if they didn’t know what the reference was to. I suspect that it would be more effective to make the title just “Leave that Freak Alone!” Either way, I like the concept quite a lot, but the shorter version might be a bit more accessible to younger readers.

    I don’t think I’m getting a strong vibe off “In An Old Movie.” What happens in the chapter?

  23. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Oct 2008 at 6:55 am

    “In An Old Movie” was the best chapter title I could derive from the events, but here’s a brief summary so you can maybe suggest a couple. My original idea was to call it “The Promise of Waffles”, but I thought it was a bit odd.

    There’s a brief paragraph to show his unwillingness to drag himself out of bed because he’s tired and is dreading the fact that people will be talking about the new superhero at school. The description of his routine isn’t long, it’s about three sentences of him getting his uniform out, grabbing some breakfast and other stuff you do to prepare for school. Then he has to coax his foster sister into getting up by offering to make waffles, and after that he has to practically shove her out of the door so they can walk to school. After he leaves his sister at the primary school, he meets his friends at the school gates where we learn that one of them is crazy about trading cards and action figures, and that the other is slowly becoming obsessed with the Guardian. Of course, this annoys Isaac because he doesn’t want to be the Guardian. Then they go in and grab their books for their first class.

  24. B. Macon 04 Oct 2008 at 7:36 am

    Maybe “Getting Schooled,” particularly if you’re big on slang. I like the flavor of “The Promise of Waffles,” but if waffles aren’t the core of the chapter then it’s probably a red herring. Here are some other thoughts that bubbled to the top of my mind… “That Time of the Day,” “The Morning After,” “The Bus Stops for No One.” If you’re into bad literary references, you might like “The Schoolbell Rings for Thee.”

  25. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Oct 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Ooh, I like “The Schoolbell Rings for Thee”.

    How about these?

    Chapter Nine: Babies Dribble Better

    Chapter Ten: Beat Up The Bad Guys

    Chapter Eleven: The Secret Identity Of A Superhero

    Chapter eight’s set in PE class, and they’re playing basketball.

    Chapter nine is Isaac talking to his friends and they say “…People will start blaming him for not being there to beat up the bad guys and save the innocent…”

    Chapter ten is a girl figuring out who he is.

    Thanks!

  26. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Oct 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Erm, I mean chapters nine, ten and eleven!

    Nine’s set in PE class, and they’re playing basketball.

    Ten is Isaac talking to his friends and they say “…People will start blaming him for not being there to beat up the bad guys and save the innocent…”

    Eleven is a girl figuring out who he is.

    Hehe, stupid mistake. Silly me.

  27. B. Macon 04 Oct 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Hmm.

    “Beat Up the Bad Guys” feels refreshingly straight-forward. On the other hand, if the chapter is mostly about Isaac talking to his friends, the readers might feel a bit jilted. BUTBG would probably be more appropriate for an action-heavy chapter.

    I feel that “The Secret Identity of a Superhero” has potential. It may be more rhythmic as “The Hero’s Secret Identity” or “The Superhero’s Secret Identity” but I suspect that the title would also benefit from a verb. Perhaps something like “Don’t Blow Your Cover,” “Blowing Cover” or “Don’t Blow Your Secret Identity” would be more forceful.

    I think the phrase “Babies Dribble Better” is a pun that may be a red herring. The chapter isn’t really about drooling babies, is it? I think it would be better to allude to why the basketball game matters to this character and story. For example, if he needs to win at basketball to impress the girl, then making a cheesy pun with the word “court” might be appropriate. You can court a girl and basketball’s played on a court, right? Sigh. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. 🙂

  28. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Oct 2008 at 10:19 pm

    In chapter nine the girl he saved recognises an ink stain on his hand while they’re playing basketball. (He was at work just before he saved her, and the pen leaked when he was signing in).

    Chapter ten is mostly him talking to his friends, and at one point mocks superheroes by putting on a deep voice and saying: ” ‘I’m a superhero. I act all tough and save innocent people, but I’m really a loser’.” There is a part where he explains how his friend is teaching his other friend how to play a trading card game.

    “Half the time Will was racing on about his television shows, and we just smiled and nodded, having no idea who the hell Kristy Suffolk was and what she was doing in the Kingdom of Giogani. I just hope he doesn’t ask us to recount the series to him, because I just plain don’t know my Grunds from my Hirlins. All I know is that one of them is blue and can sing, while the other is green and lives in a swamp. Those wacky Grunds and Hirlins. Or is it Hunds and Grirlins? Meh.”

    Chapter eleven switches for first person to third, to explain how the girl was eavesdropping on him and his friends for more evidence to back up her suspicions. She overhears him speaking in the deeper voice, and recognizes it because he used it as part of his disguise.

    Can you make any suggestions that would fit with those? Thanks!

  29. Cadet Davison 05 Oct 2008 at 8:38 am

    Readers may be a bit disorientated by a switch from first-person to third-person. One way in which you could accommodate the eavesdropping angle within his first-person story is by having him talk and then realize that she’s eavesdropping on him. He might notice that she’s sort of following him around as well and deduce that she may know more than she’s letting on. I think that what she knows is not as interesting as what he thinks she knows. If this chapter were told from his perspective, we might also see what he does about her. If I were him, I’d want to find out more about a person that might know my identity. Is she the sort of girl that talks a lot? Is this going to be a security problem? I think this sort of setup would lend itself very nicely to a paranoid-sounding title like “Watch Your Back” or “Guardian, Guard Thyself.”

  30. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Oct 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Okay, thanks! I’ll have him notice her and freak out.

  31. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Oct 2008 at 2:30 am

    I renamed chapters nine, ten and eleven, and have just finished a couple more chapters. How about these?

    Chapter Nine: The Ink Stain of Truth
    The girl he rescued (Amy-Belle) notices the stain and begins to believe that he’s the Guardian.

    Chapter Ten: What If She Knows?
    He sees her eavesdropping on his conversation with his friends.

    Chapter Eleven: The Hero’s Secret Identity
    She overhears him talking in a deeper voice, the one he used when saving her.

    (I need help with this title.)
    Isaac gets a call from his friend to tell him that footage of the first rescue shows that he can fly, and that it couldn’t possibly be a hoax. Of course, Isaac knows that already.

    Chapter Thirteen: Burn, Baby Burn! Textile Inferno!
    Isaac does another rescue, pulling a man out of a fire in a textile factory.

    Chapter Fourteen: Me Sick
    Isaac overdoes it with his powers during the fire, and falls ill because of it. He forgets one minor thing (What he ate before seeing the fire on the news), but later recalls it. His memory-lapses will get worse as time wears on.

    Chapter Fifteen: Her Constant Stares
    He is stared at by Amy-Belle all day at school.

    Chapter Sixteen: Ignorant Girls With Harmful Information = Uh Oh
    Amy-Belle gets ahold of his diary.

    So, what do you think? Thanks!

  32. Cadet Davison 11 Oct 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Ack, I just noticed these. Here are some belated comments.

    The Ink Stain of Truth. I think adding the phrase “Of Truth” gives it a very campy feel. If you’d like it to be more sober, you might consider just making the title “The Ink Stain.” I think that’s strange enough that it might be interesting.

    What if She Knows? I like this.

    The Hero’s Secret Identity. I think this needs more flair. You might try “Keep Your Friends Close,” particularly if they have been friendly up to this point.

    Burn, Baby Burn! Textile Inferno. I love disco as much as anyone, but I think the reference to Disco Inferno is a red herring. If you want a campy pun, I recommend something like “Up Your Arson.”

    I know “Me Sick” isn’t supposed to be proper English, but even so it’s a bit hard to read. Also, I don’t get the connection between his amnesia and the incorrect English. I’d recommend something like “Memory Overload.”

    Her Constant Stares. I like this.

    Ignorant Girls With Harmful Information = Uh Oh. This feels kind of campy. Maybe try “Why Guys Shouldn’t Write Diaries.”

  33. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Oct 2008 at 8:10 pm

    What does the ROTC in “Air Force ROTC Cadet” stand for?

  34. Cadet Davison 11 Oct 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. It’s one of the programs that commissions military officers.

  35. B. Macon 11 Oct 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Word on the street is that Cadet Davis left Air Force because his sadistic evaluations tended to make his subordinates burst into tears. Now, when he feels the need to tear into someone, he opens up a manuscript.

    [CADET DAVIS ADDS: No comment.]

  36. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Oct 2008 at 12:57 am

    Okay, thanks! Any recommendations for the title of chapter twelve? I can’t think of any.

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Oct 2008 at 1:22 am

    I named the next few, too.

    Chapter Seventeen: Please Excuse Me While I Go Freak Out
    Isaac finds out that the small in-school Guardian fanclub is growing, and that they’ll all be watching him for signs to his secret identity.

    Chapter Eighteen: The Goddess of Marionettes
    Amy-Belle is reading his diary to gain insights into his life and get closer to him, using him like a puppet.

    Chapter Nineteen: A (Un)Pleasant Surprise
    Amy-Belle asks him out, and he reluctantly agrees. But he’s relieved, believing that she was staring because she had a crush on him.

    Chapter Twenty: Mix And Match
    Amy-Belle is with her friend as they sort out an outfit for her date. She wants to conform to his standards, and Morgan is a little suspicious.

    Chapter Twenty-One: A Walk In The Park
    They go to the park and wander around, and Amy-Belle reveals a few details of her life.

    What do you think? Thanks!

  38. B. Macon 12 Oct 2008 at 1:35 am

    “Please Excuse Me While I Go Freak Out.” I love this.

    The Goddess of Marionettes. Hmm. I’m not feeling it. What do you think about “Top Secret”? (The contents of his diary are top secret).

    A (Un)Pleasant Surprise. This feels a little bit awkward. You could try something like like The Question or The [Adjective] Question. Alternatively, if the issue is whether the experience will be pleasant or not, you might work in the word dilemma.

    Mix and Match. I like this title. However, the content seems very different than a lot of the novel thus far (and it’s only one of a handful of chapters where she’s the lead). There are also demographic issues. Are the people that enjoyed the first few chapters and the premise going to enjoy this chapter? My guess is that this chapter is very well-tailored for female readers, but that feels like a shift in audience. Please see #44 here, particularly the point about switching main characters. One way you could stay clear of an audience shift is making it clear earlier on that the story is as much about her as it is about him. (That’s significant enough that you’d probably mention it on the backcover).

    A Walk In The Park. I like this title, but I think the chapter may feel slowly-paced if the dramatic content is mostly her revealing her backstory. Readers would probably find that more interesting if she were the main character. I’d recommend focusing on the date itself (and maybe his lingering suspicions about her, if he has any) to characterize the two of them rather than her backstory. Otherwise it may feel like he’s kind of disappearing from the story.

    For your chapter 12, I’d recommend something like “Newsflash” or, for a cheekier tone, “The Newsflash That Wasn’t.”

  39. Bretton 12 Oct 2008 at 4:32 am

    Prospective chapter titles. I think I may need help.

    Chapter 1: On the Origin of Heroes

    Chapter 2: Hidden Potential *OR* Either They’ll Become Knights or Die Trying

    Chapter 3: The Holvistran *OR* They Might Not Make It Out Alive

    Chapter 4: Zicaron- The Final Problem *OR* A Whole New World (They Just Didn’t Have a Clue)

    Chapter 5: The Academy *OR* We Made It This Far (Let’s Hope Josh Doesn’t Fail)

    What do you think?

  40. B. Macon 12 Oct 2008 at 9:13 am

    Could you describe what happens in each of these chapters in a few sentences, Brett?

  41. Bretton 12 Oct 2008 at 10:58 am

    Certainly. Why didn’t I think of that? (slams head into table)

    Chapter 1: On the Origin of Heroes

    Book Opens. Alex and his brothers are caught in a feud with their female cousins. During the course of the battle Alex and Karen (leader of the girls) start fighting and discover their powers. Parents come home, DON’T freak out, explain what happened and reveal that they are part of a secretive order that enlist people with powers to protect the world. They then tell he kids that after training, they wil be sent to an academy for further guidance.

    Chapter 2: Hidden Potential *OR* Either They’ll Become Knights or Die Trying

    The kids begin their training under their uncle Raphael, who is nothing less than a near abusive taskmaster. story then skips forward to the last part of their training, explaining the rest in flashbacks from Alex. In the final part of their training they are sent into an ACTUAL (not VIRTUAL) reality generator called the Holvistran (holographic virtual reality, sophisticated tactile response reproduction, and trans-dimensional replication) in pairs to discover their powers. Alex and Karen get stuck with each other.

    Chapter 3: The Holvistran *OR* They Might Not Make It Out Alive
    The kids go on various adventures to help them discover their powers. Alex and Karen spend most of the time fighting. During the fight LAex transfers some of his energy into a lump of metal (with the help of a lightning bolt) and makes a sword, proceeding to whup Karen’s a** with it. His father intervenes and scolds them. They are then sent on a quest to make a power staff for Karen so both of hem will have weapons. Meanwhile, Xavier (Alex’s dad) decides eeryone else isn’t learning fast enough so he devises an alternative program.

    Chapter 4: Zicaron- The Final Problem *OR* A Whole New World (They Just Didn’t Have a Clue)
    Alex’s & Karen’s brothers and sisters are teleported to a vast plain for no apparent reason. Xavier explains that this entire time they have been in the real world, in the land of Zicaron to be precise. He then says they must face him in combat. He’s wearing an exosuit so their no match for him. Meanwhile Alex & Karen are off fighting a fire demon. When they get back, they help their siblings defeat Xavier, who congratulates them. He then tells them to end their feud, which they do, but surprisingly enough, not by fighting. Alex and Karen shake hands and resolve their differences. Xavier says that this was their final test and they are ready for the academy.

    Chapter 5: The Academy *OR* We Made It This Far (Let’s Hope Josh Doesn’t Fail)
    (Not written yet) Alex, Karen and company arrive at the academy. Since they are in different levels, they will have to split up. It gets kind of emotional here. Alex then leaves to get acclamated to the new place. He then meets several other important characters, including Amorelia and Auringel (disguised as the school’s Headmaster), and the main plot begins.

    What do you think now? Sorry for the wordiness, but its hard to condense into a sentence. I think my plot may get too complicated in later parts. Also, this book has humor, but its not completely comedic, so I’d like to get a mix of serious and not-so-much titles. I would not want my auddience to make light of a climax becuase of a goofy title, but I also don’t want the titles to be boring. Also, the reason for title number five is that I consistently characterize Alex’s brother Josh as being lazy and a goofball. Thanks a WHOLE bunch!

  42. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 3:23 am

    Perhaps I should revise this comment. It looks a bit intimidating.

  43. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 5:06 am

    I added line-breaks, so your comment looks a lot less scary.

  44. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:16 am

    Thanks. So what do you think?

  45. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 7:35 am

    OK, the first chapter doesn’t strike me as too light-hearted in tone (ahem, a superpowered fight). I think “On the Origin of Heroes” is a bit long and strikes me as reminiscent of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” Unless you’re writing a really cerebral book aimed at the readers that will get the reference, I’d recommend tweaking it. For example, maybe “Origins,” “Revelations,” “Emergence,” “That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!” or “Young Blood.” For a more comical feel, you could try “Whoops” (with or without an exclamation).

    Chapter 2. I’d recommend avoiding the prominent use of words like “knights” in a novel that’s closer to sci-fi than fantasy. I like the word “virtual” because it’s very sci-fi. Perhaps “Virtual Training, Actual Pain” (you could replace “Training” with Fights), or “Forcing The Lock” for a more literary feel. (Someone’s hidden potential has to be unlocked, and it sounds like Raphael is trying to force the lock open). For a more comical feel, you could try “Say Uncle,” which is another wordplay.

    Chapter 3. Maybe “Picking up the Slack.” For a more whimsical feel, you could try something like “When Life Gives You Lumps, Make a Katana.”

    Chapter 4. I think “A Whole New World” is good, but the Aladdin reference seems like a red herring. Maybe you could try something like “Clueless” instead. (Clueless was a movie, but the word is generic enough that readers probably won’t make the association). Or maybe something like “Welcome Back… Kind of”.

    Chapter 5. Maybe “A Poor Plan” (ie relying on Josh) or “The Wrong Time to Fail” (right when they get to the academy). Alternatively, you could just call this chapter “The Academy.”

    I’m not sure that I’m getting the feel of the book right. Let me know what you think. If these aren’t quite the right vibe, I can try again.

  46. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 7:43 am

    Did the line-break work? In hindsight, I’m not sure if these comments allow guests to use HTML, but I know our contributors (me, Davis, Jacob, Paingod) can.

  47. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:58 am

    The book is actually more fantasy than sci-fi. Originally, the training was an actual simulation. I made it real so the experience would be more visceral, and also to cut out the extra sci-fi. Their teleportation actually has a natural (pseudo-magical) explanation. Originally I wanted to mesh fantasy and sci-fi, but later I figured that would be too difficult, so I’m focusing mostly on the fantasy aspect. the sci-fi aspect shows up at most 5 times:

    1. The beginning

    2. Later Alex is assigned to track down a dangerous vigilante and the supercriminal he’s hunting

    3. A friend of Alex’s is a computer genius

    4. Friend of Alex’s is ridiculously rich and she owns an exo-suit (built by the aforementioned genius)

    5. Alex and the genius kid, Tony Martin, build a basic glider-style flying machine. In this world, flying machines are considered to be impossible, but in reality they are but because of the decline of the human race, man has forgotten the knowledge. This may be scrapped.

    The way I reconcile these aspects are that there are actually two lands: Terra (Man’s Earth) and Zicaron (the Elderworld, populated by elves and the like.) Nearly ALL sci-fi takes place in Terra and nearly ALL fantasy takes place in Zicaron. There is relatively little criss-crossing so it’s easier to follow. Also the reason I used “knights is because Alex and company are training to become members of the “Divinely Ordained and Noble Order of the Knights of Telessar (the Sign of the Phoenix)”. Think of it as a fantasy Knights Templar that protects the world through superpowered agents. They’re also called the “Knights” or “Telessars”. Derrogatory terms include the “KOT’s” and the “capes”. (in-joke: regular police = cops, Knights = capes). Also, due to past events, the majority of mankind does not know that Zicaron exists. I hope I helped you get the right vibe. The plot’s pretty…unique. Your thoughts?

  48. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 8:00 am

    I think it worked.

  49. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Hmm. Yes, your plot is very unique. Geographically isolating the sci-fi will help, but I suspect that the mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements in the same book will still make the book tricky to sell.

    First, if the story starts out as (apparently) sci-fi, the readers that stick around after a few chapters are going to be mostly sci-fi fans. Then, when you switch to a fantasy setting for the rest of the book, they will probably feel like they’ve been baited-and-switched. (For a real-life example, it’d be like putting a few classical-rock songs at the front of a rap CD).

    Second, on a practical level the book has to be stocked on either the fantasy shelf or the sci-fi shelf at a bookstore.

    Third, of the three main settings of superhero story (futuristic sci-fi, present real-world and medieval fantasy), I think that medieval fantasy is probably the hardest to do. Typically, these stories eschew the superhero label altogether and just present themselves as straight-up fantasy. For example, Eragon isn’t a “superhero,” but he has a lot of the characteristics of a superhero. He has an origin story that suddenly pulls him from normal to incredible, extraordinary combat skills, a cool mode of transportation and a sidekick (his dragon). If Eragon were set in a more contemporary time, there’s no question that he would be a superhero.

  50. Ragged Boyon 13 Oct 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I’d like to pitch some prospective chapters. Looking through some comics I own, it looks like they have about six chapters per issue. Here are mine.

    1) “The City of Failures”-This chapter introduces Comet City as well as Aadrello, both of which being failures. Aadrello having failed in life, so far, being a college dropout and being denied entry into Raggs graffiti gang as well as some more of his most memorable failures. Comet City failing economically, due to the malfunction of its “revolutionary” energy generators (haven’t named them yet). In addition, the city lost its’ vibrant culture and became a graffiti-infested dump and later sunk into a depression.

    2) “Tags Over Tags-Total Disrespect”- After his hasty rejection by the Raggs, Aadrello takes it upon himself to show Comet City “what art really is”. He dons a costume (precursor to his superhero-dom) and becomes A.Arty the tagger who discredits the Raggs by tagging over their tags (the most sincere form of disrespect in the graffiti world). They finally catch him in the act and a short fight and on foot chase scene ensues. He gets away in the end.

    3) “A Sketchbook with A Name?”-While out another night, in his continuing discredation of the Raggs, he is spotted by the police. Not only do they want to catch him they want to find out who this A.Arty is. Another chase ensues( I know you’re thinking another one, geez, but this one is far more “epic”). This is the chase in which he trips over the Animata (a mystic, time-traveling sketchbook) and takes it. After eluding the “Poe-Poe” he goes to his “home” and later notices that the book is empty and has a name on it “Animata”. He thinks “Awesome, new sketchbook”

    4)”Jumping Off The Pages” After having drawn a few thing in his new “sketchbook”, he wakes up to see the few drawings he did roaming the empty house. Terrified, he runs from the house to any empty parking lot (or some place vacant). He thinks he’s going crazy when he hears a voice in his head talking to himm and see the Animata laying on the ground before him. The voice ,which he has no choice but to accept, tells him how to summon basic things from the book. Mr. Mantis whom he summons is the instructor for the book, he explains why Aadrello was chosen. Also, that the Animata is chosen for artists with something deep down that sets them apart and its purpose it to help those artist realize their dreams.

    5)”Apprenticeship? Yeah Right” Mr. Mantis offers to teach Aadrello how to further use the Animata through apprenticeship, appalled by the thought of working under someone he can see(he didn’t mind Raggs becuase the leader is mysterious and cool), he refuses with a “Yeah right”. After a later confrontation with the Raggs, A.Arty/Aadrello is pummeled and unmasked, in anger agrees to Mr. Mantis’ proposal. The rest of the chapter goes through the rigorous and odd training of the Animatan (Animata user).

    6)”Raggs, Revenge, and Rays” After learning the fundamentals of the Animata, that had magically transfered his older drawings into itself, he decides to become A.Arty again to exact his revenge against the Raggs. In a battle between the powerless Raggs members and Aadrello,after realizing the the members won’t stay down, it is revealed that they are under mind-control of the Raggs leader, who personally offers Aadrello a spot in the gang. Upon refusal, the Raggs leader, who is obviously demented, tries to kill Aadrello. While in the middle of fighting an ominous blue light is cast upon the city. The Cyborn Moon floats over the city and attempts to destroy it with vaporizing rays, Aadrello runs away from the rays and is finally trapped on the roof of the Halo’s Tower. He jumps trying to use the rapid emotion to summon something for an escape( powers are effected by emotion), he does but passes out and is wisked away to a desolate nearby planet. He awakes confused and scared in the middle of nowhere. that’s the end of the first issue

    The next issue, if published, is when he actually becomes “Sketch” and meets Mz. Corpse and Emerald and the story kicks off. What do you think? I need help with the title of this first issue.

  51. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 5:01 pm

    In that case, I would classify this story as fantasy. I have already limited the sci-fi elements’ appearance as noted, and the part at the beginning isn’t really sci-fi. The teleportation is naturally(pseudo-magically) explained, and the presence of technology doesn’t necessitate it being classified as sci-fi, does it?

    Edited Quote (Note the parentheses and asterisks):

    1. The beginning (NOT true sci-fi)

    2. Later Alex is assigned to track down a dangerous vigilante and the supercriminal he’s hunting (Can be altered to be less sci-fi)

    3. A friend of Alex’s is a computer genius (NOT really sci-fi if you think about it)

    4. Friend of Alex’s is ridiculously rich and she owns an exo-suit (built by the aforementioned genius, again not really TOO sci-fi)

    5. Alex and the genius kid, Tony Martin, build a basic glider-style flying machine. In this world, flying machines are considered to be impossible, but in reality they are. *However,because of the decline of the human race, man has forgotten the knowledge.* This may be scrapped. (It’s a glider, not an x-wing, and there’s no space travel or supresonics involved, so again not sci-fi. Powered flight doesn’t come till later)

  52. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 5:30 pm

    If you could please suggest ways to tone down the sci-fi I’d be grateful. I just don’t want my human countries to be reduced to a Carvahallish cliched middle ages existance.

  53. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Hmm, Brett. I’ll think about ways to tone down the sci-fi. It’s sort of a convention that combining sci-fi elements with elements of high fantasy is very, very difficult. The audiences don’t necessarily overlap very well and the parts of the story might not feel consistent even though the plot itself is relatively consistent. For example, Saint George stories feel very different than the sci-fi action movie Reign of Fire, even though both stories revolve around humans fighting with dragons.

  54. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I was warned of this. Well, if it helps you think: here’s a point-by-pont list of sci-fi elements I’ve included or thought of so far:

    Alex and Karen build a Hydrosphere Assault cannon and a Repulsion Ray to fight each other.

    The kids are trained in a hi-tech underground facility (may be indispensable)

    The kids are teleported to Zicaron (I explain this as using NOT magical energy, so it’s technically not sci-fi)

    Xavier fights the kids in a power suit until it gets destroyed.

    Tony Martin is a computer genius.

    Veronica Pandora Nobel (super-rich girl) wears an exo-suit which is her source of powers besides her meta-genetic enhancement.

    S.A.R.A.H. is a fully sentient, intelligent robot that used to be Tony’s older sister until she was diagnosed with a terminal illness which cause tony to transfer her mind into the robot (which can mimic nearly all human functions. I said he was a genius.)

    They use guns in Terra.

    The vigilante Alex is assigned to track down was the son of a mob lord. The villain was a bigger mob lord who went insane after an incident with a cryogenetic reassembler (help!) and became Jack Frost aka The Count of Cold aka Sleet von Hail aka Arcticus Maximus aka HELP! Corny villain name alert! The objective is that Alex sees how a life of revenge has warped the vigilante guy. Please help me find a way to accomplish this plot point without much sci-fi or corniness.

    I’ll post more when they occur to me.

  55. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 3:31 am

    Ragged Boy, I like your approach with his origin story. It reminds me somewhat of the first spider-man movie. I also find no flaws with your plot except that I can find no reason that Aaderello would reject Mr. Mantis at first.

    Quote: ” appalled by the thought of working under someone he can see(he didn’t mind Raggs becuase the leader is mysterious and cool)” Explain please?

    The conflict with the Raggs leader also seems to be unresolved. I would either have them finish the fight, make it clear that he died in the cyborn moon attack, or have him return later. Readers might expect the last one if you leave his fate unclear. If you don’t want a (Villain’s name here) Strikes Back plot, either because of clicheness or because Aaderello will be too powerful for him, you could always have him return as an ally. That is rarely expected (except in Dragonball Z, where it is a plot staple.) As an explanation for this I offer that witnessing the destruction wreaked by the Cyborn Moon caused him to realize how petty his existence is and dedicate what remains of his life to something meaningful. Only downside to this is that you’d have to explain how he escapes the planet. A good “Villain returns” plot would be to have him return as an agent of the Cyborn moon. It’s not unprecidented (see 80’s galvatron), but its also not cliched.

  56. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 3:34 am

    Also, this plot is a great excuse for star wars one-liner spoof.

    Example:
    “That’s no moon.”
    “Yes it is!”
    “Really? Let me get my telescope and-”
    “No time for that! Run!”

  57. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 5:58 am

    Suppose, I characterize my human nations as being more like our ancient empires (Egypt, Rome, Incas, Babylon, etc.) rather than futuristic societies? that way I could keep some technology and eliminate the sci-fi. I mean, atlantis had technology right? I just have to explain the tech differently. People are usually open to ancient empires having access to advanced technology, even if it appears to be magic. Example: the countless booby traps Indiana Jones encounters. Your thoughts?

  58. Cadet Davison 14 Oct 2008 at 6:26 am

    I’ve seen three kinds of stories that integrate magic and technology well:
    1) Steampunk stories like the Arcanum computer game. By making technology something that (usually) dwarves/gnomes/industrialized humans do, it helps the technology fit into a setting that also has a lot of magic.

    2) Real-world magical stories, like the Dresden Files or Harry Potter (which doesn’t dwell on human technology, but it’s set in the real world). Magic is usually explained as a subset of the real world. Typically it’s something that only a few people do, frequently hidden from the rest of the world.

    3) Stories with technology so advanced that it’s essentially magical (many Atlantis stories). Very hard to do well.

  59. Ragged Boyon 14 Oct 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I’m not sure if you understand that he survives the attack and goes to another planet. So you mean make it seem like he died and the Raggs and their leader are killed by a vaporizing ray right in front of Aadrello. Raggs will have no return they got oblierated. The reason he doesn’t want to work under Mr.Mantis is that he feels he’s too good to work under someone, he was okay with the Raggs becuase they were popular. It’s like high school, why hang out with the nerdy kid in the corner when you can chill with the popular clique?

    Yo, B.Mac, Cadet Davis, Jacon will you review my chapters they are up there somewhere (Brett, I appreciate your comments and your help, and I don’t mean any disrespect when I say I need one of them to review it too)

  60. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 2:59 pm

    No offense taken. I am likewise looking for one of them to help me out with this sci-fi issue.

  61. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 3:07 pm

    For a title, I’d offer “Raggs, Tags, and Near Certain Death”. Or perhaps “Tag, You’re Dead”. If you wanted to emphasize your character’s nature, maybe “Bright Stars and Dirty Raggs”.

  62. Cadet Davison 14 Oct 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Brett, what do you think about steampunk? I think that would be the easiest way to reconcile the incongruent feel of advanced technology (like exo-suits) with more fantastical elements like magic and elves and stuff. Alternatively, if you’d like to do a more modern story, Shadowrun did a pretty good job of integrating elves/dragons/orcs into a gritty near-futuristic setting. Giving the world an origin story helped Shadowrun explain the presence of magic in a high-tech setting (Shadowrun’s set in the real world and the story kicks off with everything going to hell when fantasy races emerge among the human populace).

    So it’s not impossible to integrate sci-fi elements into a story that has fantasy elements. But you will have to work to ensure that the elements of your story that aren’t conventional fantasy (powersuits, computer geniuses, robots, caped crusaders, etc.) fit in the story in a somewhat coherent way. I think that B. Mac may have hesitated to help because the most obvious advice– what an editor will probably lean towards– is “pick either sci-fi or fantasy and cut the other.” No one wants to get (or give) advice like that, but I have significant concerns about whether it is feasible to get an audience on board for a story that has significant elements of both. Genre-bending well isn’t impossible, certainly, but it is very hard.

  63. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 6:11 pm

    My story has very few sci-fi elements. Do you think that perhaps if I presented those elements differently, then they wouldn’t feel so out of place? Perhaps my human empires use traditional weaponry (swords, bows, etc.) but have access to advanced versions. (Like star wars only toned way down and no space travel.)

  64. Bretton 14 Oct 2008 at 6:16 pm

    If necessary I may need to change my compuer genius into a mechanical genius. As for S.A.R.A.H. I think I can explain that as he discovered a new science (ridiculously advanced robotics) by combining his mech knowledge with elvish power and finesse.

    i.e.- crude human mechanics + elvish NOT magic = advanced robot.

    As for exosuits, I think they may end up as advanced armor, perhaps also undergoing the elvish treatment. In order to restore the element of power that chracter lost, I could give her expert fighting skills, and meta-human enhancements.

    Do you think readers will accept this?

  65. Jacobon 14 Oct 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I feel very lost by the tangent about fantasy/sci-fi genrebending. Even if I knew anything about whether genrebending worked (and/or under what conditions it could work), I doubt I could offer much because the extent to which Brett’s book has sci-fi elements seems very murky. Could we move on to some other issue?

  66. Ragged Boyon 14 Oct 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Yeah, new subject like the six chapters I’ve posted, those are up there just waiting for a review.

    I cracked up typing this.

  67. Jacobon 14 Oct 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’m very sorry, but I’d rather not review your work. If you’re unhappy about the pace at which we’re reviewing your work, why not try finding someone else? I recommend online writing workshops, friends or teachers.

  68. Cadet Davison 14 Oct 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I’m passing as well.

  69. B. Macon 14 Oct 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I think I can look at your chapters within the next week or so, Ragged Boy. Work has been hectic. If you require immediate assistance, I can suggest a few reasonably priced book doctors.

    Also, aren’t you writing a comic book? Do comic books typically have chapters?

  70. Bretton 15 Oct 2008 at 3:24 am

    Haha! Very well then. Question: do you think it would be better to define fictional words in footnotes, on-page inserts, or glossary. I’ll have a glossary for sure, but wanted to do omething to decrease the inconvenience of always flipping to the back of the book. That was something that bugged me when reading Eragon and Eldest even more than the plot.

  71. Bretton 15 Oct 2008 at 3:25 am

    P.S. Sorry about the tangent, I was just kinda concerned is all.

  72. B. Macon 15 Oct 2008 at 3:30 am

    Hi, Brett. I like footnotes a lot– we use them extensively in our novel– but they may add an air of pretentiousness. We tried to avoid that by lacing them with humor. For example, I think our footnotes were pretty funny and effective in Gotta Kill ‘Em All!. Terry Pratchett also uses footnotes; his footnotes are hilarious and don’t distract from the story.

    I can’t think of any novels that used footnotes without humorous intent. I suppose if your novel were really serious and cerebral, using straight-up footnotes (like reminding a reader what an Elvish word translates into, for example) may work.

    I think a glossary is a great start, but I agree that it can be a bit cumbersome for readers to use it frequently. You can help readers wean themselves off the glossary with on-page context clues and by crafting fictional words that sound very intuitive. For example, Dungeons and Dragons has two races called “terrasques” and “mind flayers.” Readers shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering that a terrasque is a giant behemoth and that mind flayers are psychic predators.

    Also, could you clarify what you mean by on-page inserts?

  73. Anonymouson 15 Oct 2008 at 4:09 am

    Yes, comics have chapters at least DC Comics do.

    So who are these doctors? they sound scary are they british? BrItish people are scary.

    And no, I’m not unhappy, It’s fine i can be patient.

  74. B. Macon 15 Oct 2008 at 4:15 am

    British people are scary? What?

  75. Ragged Boyon 15 Oct 2008 at 9:47 am

    That anonymous person was me on a different computer.

  76. Ragged Boyon 17 Oct 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I can’t think of a name for my series, and I am so stuck.

    But for my superhero trio I was thinking “Star Squad” or “Team Star”

  77. Ragged Boyon 17 Oct 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I’d be like.

    “Hey, it’s Team Star!” exclaims amazed man

    “Team Star? who are they?” asks clueless woman

    “Only the hippest young superheroes, dawg” replies inner-city youth

    Or you could swap it with Star Squad.

  78. B. Macon 17 Oct 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Hmm. I think “Star Squad” and “Team Star” sound a bit too retro for your series. I think they sound too much like they’re out of the Golden Age of comics. What do you think about The Hellions?

  79. Bretton 19 Oct 2008 at 9:57 am

    Sorry it took so long. I went camping. Here’s what I meant: In the early drafts I inserted text boxes with info, translation etc. ON the page as notes to help the reader. Your thoughts on this method?

  80. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Hmm. I think it may be a bit more intrusive than footnotes. Because footnotes are more conventional than text boxes, I would recommend using footnotes on your manuscript. Then, as soon as you get a publishing contract, you can ask your editor about using text boxes.

    How was camping?

  81. Bretton 19 Oct 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Cold. Wet. Survivable. I’ll go with the footnotes. Thnx.

  82. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I was going to say… there are probably better times to camp than mid-October, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

  83. Bretton 19 Oct 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Yeah. Not exactly my choice. It was a Pathfinders event.

  84. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I’m not sure how you’d use chapters in a comic book, but if DC Comics did it in some of its comic books, it probably won’t be much of an issue.

    1: I love City of Failures. It’s unexpected (in contrast to something more conventional like “City of Heroes”) and sets the right mood. I would recommend taking out the word “The” in the chapter title for punch. My main concern about the content of the chapter is that the description makes it sound like it’ll be mostly backstory. I’d recommend focusing on what he’s failing at now (probably the Raggs rejection) rather than what he’s failed at in the past (college dropout, etc.)

    2: I’m not quite feeling “Tags over Tags–Total Disrespect.” I think “Total Disrespect” would be OK on its own. Alternately, you could use “Tags Over Tags,” but that would only be effective if most of your readers actually knew what “Tags Over Tags” was a reference to. That depends on your target audience. However, if you’re writing for the usual comic-book audience (15-25 non-poor whites), my guess is they probably wouldn’t get it.

    3: “A Sketchbook With a Name?” This has suspense and style. However, I’m not quite feeling the question-mark. I’d recommend tweaking this to “The Sketchbook With a Name.”

    4: “Jumping off the Pages” is pretty good. As a minor stylistic tweak, I’d recommend changing “Pages” to “Page.”

    5: I didn’t like this title. I’d recommend something like “I Refuse to Work for a Sketchbook” instead, maybe? (Or you could substitute “Drawing” for “Sketchbook”).

    6: I didn’t like this title so much. I’d recommend putting the death-ray aspect of this chapter front and center. At this point, the graffiti-artist angle of his story virtually vanishes, so I would try to have the title reflect that. Also, I’d recommend foreshadowing the conflict with the Cyborn Moon earlier. Since this opening issue is pretty much the character’s origin story, I’d recommend having it end with him becoming Sketch. Waiting for the second issue to do that may be too slow.

  85. Ragged Boyon 20 Oct 2008 at 11:53 am

    Yeah I thought about that when I wrote it, he should become Sketch in the first issue. And there should be some foreshadowing, the Cyborn Moon can’t just pop up out of nowhere, I’ll add a part tying the Animata to the Cyborn Moon’s arrival, because they are tracking it. I’ll post the revised first issue soon. So I should probably speed up the pace of the story so that I can fit more in the first book. I won’t post it in chapter form and it will be in a section that applies, since it’s no longer about chapters and titles. I’ll call the series The Hellions after looking up the meaning it’s a good describer of the group, but aren’t the Hellions in use by X-Men.

  86. B. Macon 20 Oct 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve since looked up the Hellions and found that the word is used by the X-Men, but that reference is still pretty obscure. I think you’d be OK. If you like the word but want to differentiate yourself from the X-Men, you could try modifying Hellions with an adjective or phrase. For example, if you wanted to make the Hellions sound like a graffiti gang, maybe you could make them the Comet City Hellions. At the very least, as a series name that clearly identifies itself as scifi. Alternately, you could use a word that sounds more conventionally heroic to make them sound more like a standard superhero team. Or you could use a word that’s really wacky and out-there to show that the team is all about creativity (The Lurid Hellions?)

  87. Bretton 21 Oct 2008 at 7:58 am

    I’m figuring out the backstory and timeline for everything that happens before my book starts (to avoid continuity issues), and I was wondering, about how old does a fantasy world need to be? Right now mine is less than 9,000 years old, but that feels a bit too young to me. Your advice?

  88. B. Macon 21 Oct 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I don’t think there are any hard-and-fast rules for world age. If the world were only 2,500 years old instead of 9,000 years or 25,000 years, it probably wouldn’t affect the development of the story all that much. The age of the world is pretty much just like a scenery choice, so you have a lot of latitude to play around with it.

    In contrast, the backstory that shapes the plot is far more important than scenery and should probably be kept as narrow and recent as possible. For example, if your story hinged on a conflict between a few noble families, it would probably help if the events that have shaped the conflict happened just over the past few generations than over hundreds of generations. Your readers will probably find it easier to keep track of a shorter timeline.

  89. Bretton 21 Oct 2008 at 3:47 pm

    would you consider 956 years “ancient” (for a nation)?

  90. B. Macon 21 Oct 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Yeah, I think it would be an ancient country.

    Most readers will probably determine whether it feels ancient by comparing it to their own country. For example, the oldest countries in the Western Hemisphere (the United States and Haiti) are about 250 years old. It’s not as clear in Europe, but political scientists frequently cite England’s Commonwealth in 1529 as the first example of a modern nation-state.

  91. Bretton 21 Oct 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Also, I’ve made some changes to chapter names. The chapter descriptions are the same as above.

    Chapter 1: A Star Is Born- This is an origin story

    Chapter 2: Forcing the Lock- Took your suggestion

    Chapter 3: Conflict of Interests- refers to the fight between Alex and Karen that dominates this chapter

    Chapter 4: Completely Clueless- modified your suggestion

    Chapter 5: The Next Level- ???

    your thoughts?

  92. Cadet Davison 21 Oct 2008 at 5:12 pm

    This is probably the first time in the history of this website that political science has actually proven remotely useful. And possibly the history of the world.

  93. Bretton 22 Oct 2008 at 3:23 am

    Also, I’ve made some changes to chapter names. The chapter descriptions are the same as above.

    Chapter 1: A Star Is Born- This is an origin story

    Chapter 2: Forcing the Lock- Took your suggestion

    Chapter 3: Conflict of Interests- refers to the fight between Alex and Karen that dominates this chapter

    Chapter 4: Completely Clueless- modified your suggestion

    Chapter 5: The Next Level- ???

    your thoughts?

  94. B. Macon 22 Oct 2008 at 4:01 am

    A Star is Born may be a little bit cheesy, but I like the sort-of-wordplay with the series name.

    I like Forcing the Lock. It may help if you introduce the lock metaphor in the first chapter’s title, so that it’s a bit clearer what “forcing the lock” is a reference to.

    My first impression when I hear “Conflict of Interests” is that a professional has conflicting interests, like a lawyer representing two sides in the same case. So it might not quite convey the sense of two siblings sparring with each other. I think it may help to use your chapter 3 title to foreshadow the fight. For example, why are they fighting? Why is the fight so relevant that you’re writing about it? Something like Pecking Order doesn’t quite have the right style, I think, but it conveys the substance well.

    Completely Clueless sounds good. I like the slightly whimsical, hyperbolic touch of “completely” there.

    I’m not quite feeling “The Next Level.” When they rely on Josh in chapter 5, what sort of test are they facing? I think that giving that sort of detail may make the title more suspenseful.

  95. Bretton 22 Oct 2008 at 5:19 am

    How about “Cooperation Through Subordination” for Chapter 3?

    As for Chapter 5, I don’t think you got the right vibe. Josh does not feature too prominently in this chapter. Alex separates from his brothers and cousins and begins to progress from this point on his own, meeting new friends etc. in the process.

    Oh, and if you’re worrying that I’m scrapping all of the characters and plot developments up to this point to focus on the main character, thus revealing that what progressed in Chapters 1-4 was backstory and I only introduced the peripheral characters to further characterize Alex, don’t worry. In fact, you’re only half right. Their main purpose was to characterize Alex, but they won’t vanish into the mists of obscurity. We’ll see Xavier, Karen, Josh, and company again, just not yet. However, throughout the course of the plot, I will make it plain that Alex has been keeping up with his family (references, letters, etc.).

    What do you think?

  96. B. Macon 22 Oct 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Cooperation through Subordination is interesting, but it may be possible to smooth it out a bit. Could you give a synopsis for chapter 3 and chapter 5?

    As for the separation in chapter 5, it’s not a problem that you move away from peripheral characters in one scene and move to a separate scene with mostly new characters. For example, the first Harry Potter book spends about 50 pages where the most important side-characters are Dudley, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Marge. After Harry moves to Hogwarts, we hardly ever see those characters again. So even if you decided that you never wanted to work with Xavier/Karen/Josh/etc. again, that would be OK as long as they accomplished something commensurate with the amount of time they had on-screen. When you eventually reintroduce these characters, I would recommend that you be fairly generous with context clues to help readers remember who these characters are, particularly if they’ve developed a lot in the interim.

  97. Bretton 22 Oct 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Thank you. Here are the synopses you requested:

    Chapter 3: Cooperation through Subordination

    The kids go on various adventures to help them discover their powers. Alex and Karen spend most of the time fighting, the details of which dominate the chapter. Peripheral plots include Mike and Zenobia explorng caves and running into a gargoyle, April and Josh struggling to work together, and Rachel and Kiturah discovering their powers. This prevents the “nonstop fighting” problem.

    During the fight Alex transfers some of his energy into a lump of metal (with the help of a lightning bolt) and makes a sword,and defeats Karen. His father intervenes and scolds them. They are then sent on a quest to make a power staff for Karen so both of hem will have weapons. Meanwhile, Xavier (Alex’s dad) decides everyone else isn’t learning fast enough so he devises an alternative program. Raphael agrees, but Rishtaria and Kayla do not and the parents begin arguing over the pace of the children’s training.

    Chapter 5: The Next Level
    (In progress) Alex, Karen and company arrive at the academy. They meet the Second Master, a wolf-man named Lupus Cane (last of his race. Shh!), and Headmaster Mikayel (the phoenix Auringel in disguise. Double shh!). Since the kids are all in different levels, they will have to split up. It gets kind of emotional here. Alex then leaves to get acclamated to the new place. He then meets several other important characters, most prominently Amorelia, and the main plot begins.

  98. Bretton 23 Oct 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Your thoughts?

  99. B. Macon 23 Oct 2008 at 11:50 pm

    For #3, what would you think about “Bolt out of the Blue?” The idiom translates to something unexpected, but there’s also the reference to the lightning that proves very important in the fight with Karen.

  100. Bretton 24 Oct 2008 at 3:34 am

    I get number three, but what is five a reference to?

  101. B. Macon 24 Oct 2008 at 3:57 am

    It’s not a reference. If they face their second master (Lupus Cane) in chapter 5, then he would be the next master. I think it’ll make sense for readers that have already read the encounter between them and what I imagine is the first master.

  102. Bretton 24 Oct 2008 at 4:56 am

    Oh, you misunderstood. Second Master is Lupus Cane’s title. In some foreign schools, that office is roughly the same as “vice principal” in the US.

    Principal –> Headmaster

    Vice Principal –> Second Master

    You see?

  103. B. Macon 24 Oct 2008 at 8:28 am

    Oh, OK.

  104. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Nov 2008 at 12:52 am

    Okay, I have a few more chapter titles that I need some comments on.

    Chapter Twenty-Two: Is This An Interrogation?

    His girlfriend get nervous because her friend seems to be prying about her date. She actually isn’t, she’s just interested in how it went.

    Chapter Twenty-Three: Ol’ Meathead

    The school bully is introduced. “Ol’ Meathead” is Isaac’s nickname for him.

    Chapter Twenty-Four: Wraparound

    Isaac goes to save a child trapped in a crashed car. It’s practically wrapped around a tree.

    Chapter Twenty-Five: Scrapped

    He sees that a lot more girls are making scrapbooks of his rescues.

    Chapter Twenty-Six: Behind Every Supermodel

    Amy-Belle tells her nanny about Isaac, describing him as “totally cute” (leaving out the fact that he’s a superhero), and her nanny replies that “behind every supermodel is a totally cute guy”.

    Chapter Twenty-Seven: Heroic Orders

    The restaurant where Isaac works is packed full because he made his first rescue on the same street. It’s now a tourist hotspot and his workload has quadrupled.

    Chapter Twenty-Eight: Night Lights and Night Life

    He flies over the city to a robbery and watches as the lights switch on.

    Chapter Twenty-Nine: Gunplay

    He is threatened with a gun and has to disarm the guy without getting shot.

    Chapter Thirty: The Illness
    Another fatigue headache hits him, and he gets really sick.

    Chapter Thirty-One: Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me
    He goes to school despite his illness and is praying for death all day because it hurts so much.

    Chapter Thirty-Two: A Gladiator In A School Uniform
    He and his sister are attacked on the way home from school, by three of Isaac’s classmates. His little sister throws sand in one guy’s eyes and raises his voice a few octaves with a well-placed kick.

    Chapter Thirty-Three: Let Them Eat Cake
    He gives his sister her favourite dinner and some cake for using her knowledge of fighting for the forces of good. Normally she’s beating up her classmates. (She’s not blood related to him and doesn’t have superpowers)

    Chapter Thirty-Four: Surfing the Fansite Wave
    Isaac’s foster father tells him that the Guardian has a fansite, which ranks local teens on the likelihood that they’re the Guardian. Isaac has a 2% chance and his friend has 2.6%. He is relieved that the girls clearly don’t know what to look for, seeing as his friend is very different from him.

    Chapter Thirty-Four: Stranger Than Fact
    His other friend writes a fanfic where the Guardian is seen as a 21 year old journalist with red hair and brown eyes, who is openly brave in real life. Basically, he’s the opposite of Isaac.

  105. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Nov 2008 at 1:42 am

    I have just thrown together some possible titles for my novel, but I must say that I do insist on the colon. Some books pulled it off, and I’ll make an attempt. I know character names don’t really belong in titles, but it worked for Bridget Jones, Artemis Fowl, Maximum Ride, Jane Eyre and Emma. It might not work for me, but I can try.

    The Guardian: Behind the Mask

    Isaac Maehara: Not Quite Normal

    Isaac Maehara: Average (For His Species)

    Isaac Maehara: Student/Superhero *OR* Isaac Maehara: Student… Waiter… Superhero *OR* Isaac Maehara: Student, Waiter, Superhero

    Isaac Maehara: Legal Guardianship (This is my favourite, but it’s an in-joke. It fits because he’s adopted, which the reader won’t know until the third page. But it doesn’t say what it’s really about, since there’s no mention of superheroes.)

    I need help reducing the list by elimination, and possibly some suggestions. Thanks!

  106. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:58 am

    Of these, I would eliminate The Guardian: Behind the Mask and Isaac Maehara: Legal Guardianship. I don’t feel like they make enough of a sell to prospective readers.

    In contrast, Isaac Maehara: Student, Waiter, Superhero very clearly sells a story that’s about a typical teen that is a superhero on top of being a student and waiter.
    If Isaac is essentially a typical teen, then I feel that something like this (ie Student, Waiter, Superhero) could be a really effective title. However, if he’s a typical teen, then it might feel incongruent to readers that he’s not human. (Going back to Superhero Nation, we used a mutant alligator to personify an agency that’s beyond wacky).

    I like Isaac Maehara: Average (For His Species) but it feels like it’s selling a different story than IM:SWS. Instead of emphasizing that he’s a superhero that does exceedingly average things for a teenager (being a student and waiter), it says that he’s average for another species. The first one would get readers that want to read about a typical teenager-turned-superhero; the second would get readers that want to learn about a nonhuman protagonist. Notice that the second one doesn’t imply that this is a superhero story.

    Isaac Maehara: Not Quite Normal makes a third kind of pitch. I suspect that would pick up readers that are interested in reading about a teenager that’s more weird than normal. Based on my loose understanding of your novel, I feel like this title is kind of likely to mismarket your work. Another concern I’d have is that this does not seem to be a superhero story, or even necessarily fantastical.

    Here are some tweaks you could try… Isaac Maehara: Average (For His Species) could be just Average for His Species. That would eliminate two sets of punctuation that tend to be awkward. If you’d like to use Isaac’s name there, you could try Isaac, Average for His Species or Isaac [Last name], Average for His Species. However, if you’d like to use his last name, I’d recommend using a last-name that doesn’t have unusual letter combinations like ‘maeh.’

    I’d recommend cutting “Isaac Maehara” out of Isaac Maehara: Student, Waiter, Superhero. “Student, Waiter, Superhero” is remarkably informative and concise: readers will know that this story is about a typical teen that becomes a superhero. I don’t think that naming the typical teen in the title adds enough here to justify adding a word or two.

  107. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 9:40 am

    I like these titles:

    • Ol’ Meathead (maybe just Meathead)?
    • Wraparound
    • Behind Every Supermodel
    • Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me
    • Gunplay

    Is This An Interrogation?
    I’m not quite feeling the rhetorical question here. Maybe something like “Prying Eyes” or “The Meddler” might work better. Also, my impression is that this might seem very removed from the Isaac-centric chapters. His main link to the chapter is that her girlfriend is interested in how her date with Isaac went. But dramatically speaking, there’s nothing at stake for Isaac here. For example, if the girlfriend were very critical of Isaac and were subtly pushing her to dump him, then Isaac would have something at stake. I think that raising the stakes for Isaac here would increase the interest-level of readers that are more interested in Isaac than his girlfriend.

    Scrapped.
    Stylistically, this may be a red herring. I think “Scrapped” sounds more threatening and sinister than this chapter actually turns out to be. (Unless he does find it sinister that the girls are making scrapbooks of him, which would be pretty funny). Also, how long is this chapter? It feels like there’s not as much dramatic conflict in this chapter as the others. I’d recommend adding some reason that the scrapbooks and his growing fan-base are consequential in the context of this chapter. Maybe he finds it threatening because the more closely they look at pictures of him, the more he fears that they will notice how much he looks like the hero.

    Heroic Orders.
    My main concern here is that the chapter does not feature very much conflict. OK, so his workload has quadrupled. I suspect readers will wonder “so what?” I would try to increase the drama here (and his stake in the scene) by having him try to juggle his quadrupled workload with trying to spend time with his girlfriend and/or as a superhero. If there are antagonists at this point of the story, it might be useful to bring them in here. If I were attempting to learn more about the hero at this point, I’d probably start here looking for forensic evidence. I’d also try to consider the possibility that the hero’s base of operations is near where he tends to make his appearances, which is probably pretty close to the first fight. Also, I’m not very fond of the title here. Do you like “Unintended Consequences”?

    Night Lights and Night Life. I didn’t think the title was very dramatic. “Nightlife” might be smoother. Midnight’s another word I’d think about using (like Midnight Rescue, Midnight Bust, or maybe The Fight At Midnight). Also, this chapter doesn’t seem too dramatic. I like that the robbery is looming ahead, but looking at the city might not be interesting enough.

    The Illness.
    I like the substance, but making the title more specific might help. For example, maybe “The Hangover” or “Power Hangover.” Alternately, I think something more literary could work. Maybe “World of Hurt”?

    A Gladiator In A School Uniform.
    The substance here is fine, but I’m not so keen on the chapter name. “School Uniform” is kind of awkward. Maybe something like “A Demon in Pigtails”?

    Let Them Eat Cake.
    I’m not sure how much the Marie Antoinette reference adds here. Something like “They Ate Cake” might be a marginally more interesting title, but I’d recommend coming up with some reason that them eating cake together is dramatic. (For example, if they had hated each other, this could be a symbolic moment of reconciliation).

    Surfing the Fansite Wave.
    I’d recommend something more over the top, like “The Worldwide Web of Lies.” Also, if this fansite wave is something that is mostly coming from teens and young people, I think it would make sense if someone younger (like Isaac’s sister) told him about the website.

  108. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Up until now, I have been sort of free-writing my chapters in that I have a general idea of where the plot needs to go and I let the story write itself. I have recently discovered however, that this technique is a breeding ground for writer’s block. Consequently I’ve started outlining my book by chapter and I would like your opinion on some upcoming titles, as well as some already written that you have seen. All commenters welcome!

    Chapter 1: A Star Is Born-
    Alex discovers his powers during a fight with his cousin Karen. His parents come home, explain, and reveal their connection to the Knights Telessar.

    Chapter 2: Forcing the Lock
    Alex and company begin their training under their uncle Raphael. They later are sent into power training.

    Chapter 3: Cooperation Through Subordination
    Alex and Karen fight, then later learn to work together to defeat the pyron Gehennite. Meanwhile their siblings have their own adventures, culminating in an encounter with Xavier.

    Chapter 4: Completely Clueless
    It is reveled that the kids were in Zicaron the whole time. They then fight Xavier without success until Alex and Karen arrive and help them to win. The two then resolve their rivalry once and for all.

    Chapter 5: The Academy
    The kids arrive at the Academy and must split up. Alex gets acclimated to his new surroundings. He meets the elf-girl Amorelia, who he crushes on. He is assigned to a residential group consisting of Whit, Felisha, Edmond, Jackal, Jason, Tiffany, and Anastasia. (The last four are extremely minor characters and have no bearing on the plot. They exist because four people wouldn’t be a practical number for an RC group given the number of children in the school. We only know their names because Alex’s RC makes them do a “Hi my name is…” exercise to get to know each other.) The chapter ends with them going to dinner.

    *RC means residential counselor.

    Chapter 6: Unleash the Fire
    Alex goes to dinner with his residential group. He meets up with Amorelia again and she introduces him to a couple of her friends. Alex has his first run-in with the Axe Grinders and fights Volund Skulk. Lupus Cane busts them and sends Alex to the office.

    Chapter 7: To the Office With You
    Chapter opens with a conversation between Mikayel and Lupus Cane about the Emissary of Fire. The topic of conversation eventually switches to Alex. Lupus plays the doubter, but Mikayel has faith in him. They then bring Alex in and chide him for his actions. He is punished. (I think he must get SOME kind of punishment, because if he gets off, not only would it be bad for mary sue/chosen one reasons, but it might seem like their giving him leeway for corruption, which is unacceptable for a good authority figure to do.) Lupus leaves the room and Mikayel has a private conversation with Alex. Alex leaves.

    Chapter 8: An Encounter of the Purebred Kind
    Alex leaves the office and runs into Team Thunder/ the Jainar Triplets. They begin to persecute him for being a “halfling” when Whit and Amorelia appear to back him up. Whit wants to fight, but Amorelia wants a peaceful solution. The triplets tease Whit for being an even greater “mongrel” than Alex, and act indignant toward Amorelia for helping out the “mutts”, though saying that such weakness is to be expected of an Adamari tribe elf (The triplets are Zhudai elves, of the tribe famous for its warriors, while the Adamari are more peaceful and spiritual). Alex thanks Amorelia and he and Whit leave to go back to their dorm sector. After encountering Amorelia, Whit considers that not all purebreds are bad.

  109. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Thoughts?

  110. Ragged Boyon 03 Nov 2008 at 7:05 pm

    All in all it sounds good but I have a few concerns. Even with the four characters that are minor, a lot of names are thrown around in the beginning, which may disorientate the reader. But as long as you differentiate the characters it should work out fine. Title-wise the only one I have a quibble with is To the Office With You. That sounds a little funny, in my opinion, but if you wanted to emphasize the punishment, I think “The Rod of Punishment” or “The Code of Conduct” would be good. If you want to emphasize the conversation between Mikayel and Lupus, I think “Opinionated Overseers” would be okay. But who knows. I’m no B.Mac, so feel free to scrap my ideas.

  111. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks Ragged Boy!

  112. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Oh, and the four minor characters will probably only show up here, and maybe one or two other times just to remind us that they exist in the background. Maybe they’ll become more important in the future. Who knows?

  113. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Ragged Boy said: “I’m no B. Mac, so feel free to scrap my ideas.”
    Hello, Brett. Unlike Ragged Boy I am B. Mac, but feel free to scrap my ideas anyway.

    I agree that free-writing chapters can be very tricky. I find it very difficult to free-write chapters that are remotely coherent. Some people can do that, but I’m definitely not one of them.

    Chapter 1 looks pretty good. The title is serviceable and the substance of the chapter sounds like it will effectively introduce readers to a new world and characters.

    2: I like “Forcing the Lock” as a title, though I would recommend explaining what the phrase means in-story. The substance like it has a lot of potential. Although the idea of a training scene is a little bit cliche, there are so many ways to go with it that it shouldn’t be a problem. (If you feel that it’s getting too cliche, I’d recommend developing the relationship between Alex and Karen. That’s a useful fallback that has dramatic potential).

    3: I’m not completely sure what “Cooperation through Subordination” means. The word subordination kind of threw me off because it suggests a pecking-order that didn’t quite come across in your chapter synopsis. Is it that one of the two is subordinate to the other or that the two are partners? If teamwork/partnership is the main theme we’re supposed to take away from the title, I’d recommend something like “Blood and Water” (‘blood is thicker than water’ is a phrase used to describe how deep family ties are) or “The Ties That Bind.”

    4: How important will your readers regard it that they’re in Zicaron and not somewhere else? My main concern about chapter 4 is that the Zicaron revelation might be a “so what?” moment for your readers. To avoid that, I’d recommend trying to establishing why it matters, what’s so totally different (and ideally difficult) about being in Zicaron rather than the place they thought they were.

    5 looks OK. I’d recommend changing Anastasia’s name (it is long and resembles Amorelia) and Jason’s (it resembles Jackal’s). If possible, I would recommend paring down the side-cast here. By my count, we’re getting three important characters (Amorelia, Whit and Felisha) and at least five other characters (Jackal, Jason, Tiffany, Anastasia and the RC). As a rule, I would say that a character that has no bearing on the plot probably isn’t important enough to get a name. One way you could get around introducing those characters is by having the RC introduce Alex to a smaller group. Having four characters in the group (Amorelia, Whit, Felisha and Alex) would be large enough, I think.

    Another note on 5. It seems like not very much is going on besides the ice-breaker exercise. I haven’t read your ice-breaker, but my impression is that it will come off kind of like an infodump. “Hi, my name is Amorelia, and these are the essential things you need to know about me.” I suspect that the same information might be more interesting if it were delivered in a setting that had higher stakes. For example, maybe they’re doling the students out into groups, and Alex is worried that he will deliver a terrible introduction speech and get picked into the same group as a bunch of losers.

    Also, RC as residential counselor is OK, but a quick survey of students in my American dormitory found that most of them were not familiar with the term. I’d advise writing it out a few times before abbreviating it.

    In chapter 6, we see another few characters: Lupus Cane, Skulk and the rest of the Axe Grinders. I would recommend closely reading through the scene in Harry Potter 1 where Harry meets Ron, Hermione, Draco, Crabbe & Malfoy over a brief period. It really worked in Harry Potter, which is why I recommend it as a basis for comparison.

    Also, I didn’t like the title Unleash the Fire very much. It doesn’t seem to convey the sense of the chapter very well (?)

    7: Mikayel’s name is a little bit hard on the eyes. Would you be OK spelling it “Michael”?

    I agree that it’s wise to have Alex punished. If he gets nothing, he looks like a Mary Sue. If he’s punished too hard, he also looks like a Mary Sue struggling against supernasty authority figures. However, if the punishment is fair, it will emphasize that he’s not above the rules.

    8: I get the “Encounter of the Third Kind” reference, but the reference doesn’t seem to add very much here. I’d recommend looking at #42 here.

    As for the substance of the chapter, I’d also recommend looking at Harry Potter 1. I know you haven’t read it, but many of your readers have and they may feel that the Jainar triplets making fun of him for being a halfling will sound similar to Draco making fun of Mudbloods.

    There are a lot of proper-nouns in this book that start with A. For example: Alex, Amorelia, Anastasia and Adamari. Several of these words use more than one A, as well.

  114. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 8:25 pm

    By the chap. 3 title, I mean that Alex and Karen are fighting for supremacy. They think the only way they can cooperate is if one is subserviant to the other.

    The revelation in Zicaron means that their power training was legitimately dangerous. until then, they (except Alex and Karen) had been assuming that they were in a safe environment. SURPRISE! There were several time wher you could have actually died!

    Would it be ok if I had them make fun of how lame the exercise was afterwards? Im also going to try to rework it a bit. Basically what was originally written was that they would say their name, codename, and what they’d like to be called. Alex gets nervous because he hadn’t picked a codename yet. Afterwards it’s basically a teenage “well, that was lame.” moment. Hopefully with hillarium.

    Unleash the Fire is meant to convey Alex unleashing his powers on Volund with unbridled fury. Maybe this would be better used elsewhere. Could you suggest a replacement?

    The reason I can’t spell the Headmaster’s name as Michael is that Alex has a brother named Michael introduced earlier on and readers could get confused.

    Suppose I made the chapter 8 title simply “Purebreds” or maybe “You Purebreds and Your Insults” (X-Men reference. Magneto says “You homo sapiens and your guns!” I loved that line.)

  115. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Your response?

  116. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Oh, and also. I haven’t read Harry Potter for religious reasons. I hope that doesn’t come off as strange.

  117. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:29 pm

    OK. I have a few issues with the revelation in Zicaron; first, it doesn’t seem like it will necessarily be very dramatic. The reader will learn that in the past the characters could have gotten hurt, but didn’t. It would be more dramatic if they learned that they could now get hurt, and might.

    Additionally, from the in-story perspective, the revelation doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Why would the parents hold back the information that their powers could kill each other? It seems like holding that back could easily get one of the kids killed. I mean, they’re playing around with superpowers that they don’t have a good handle on. Unless the parents are secretly hoping that one of the kids gets killed, I think that hiding the information makes the parents look very cold. In any case, I think that the fight-scenes would be more dramatic if we knew that they were in legitimate peril. Then the question of “can the two control their budding powers to somehow not kill themselves?” is life-and-death.

    I think you have a pretty good grasp of comedy. If you’d like to do a scene based on their name and codename, that could be funny. (We have a few running gags based on superhero names and melodramatically tragic origin stories; I think it’s pretty fertile). Tonewise, one of the things I’d look out for is that the kids joking about the training might make the parents look incompetent, particularly if the parents have been genuinely incompetent. That’s not necessarily problematic, but it’s a possibly unintended side-effect of the comedy.

    I’m not sure what your plot looks like later on, but I think it may help to draw out the Alex-Volund conflict more before having Alex go crazy on him, particularly if the characters spend more than a few chapters at this academy. As for the title, I think that “Unleash the Fire” is fine for a chapter that features Alex torching Volund. I just hadn’t gotten that impression about the chapter. You could also consider “Fiery Revenge” or “Burning Loose.”

    If Alex’s brother is named Michael, I would recommend changing the headmaster’s name.

    Purebreds is an OK title.

  118. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Ah, cool. Would you be OK with reading a HP plot synopsis? In lieu of the actual book, I think that might help if only to get a handle on a plot that’s already been used and is very widely-known. The chapter where he meets a slew of characters and has a run-in with Malfoy is chapter 6.

  119. Ragged Boyon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:32 pm

    You Bananas and Your Peels. I thought that was funny.

  120. The Casual Passer-Byon 03 Nov 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Question. not too sure if this is the right place for this comment, but how can you convey that a female character is “well proportioned” and curvy without coming off as tawdry or indecent?

  121. Bretton 03 Nov 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Bananas and peels??? What do you mean? Where did that line come from?

  122. Ragged Boyon 03 Nov 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I heard that on Family Guy (best show ever). It was funny.

    Yo, Casual Passer-By. I would suggest making her “assets” an understatement, not putting too much focus on them, unless her body is contributing to the story. For example:

    (Disclaimer: I’m not the best writer, bear with me.)
    The advanced CyberSuit was well designed, contouring her well developed body nicely. Allowing her freedom, enhanced speed, and strength the suit was a vast improvement to her original. In addition to the technical superiority, the suit was stylish and complemented her curvy figure well.

    In just three sentences the reader knows of that the girl’s body is well proportioned and curvaceous, without coming of as too sleazy and cheap.

  123. B. Macon 03 Nov 2008 at 10:54 pm

    That’s a tough question, Casual Passerby. One way you could bring attention to it is if it’s somehow relevant to the story. Erm, I’m kind of struggling to think of such an example, but let’s try this out.

    FEMALE SUPERHERO: This armor is tight.

    MALE SCIENTIST: Form-fitting armor generates less air resistance. It’s more aerodynamic.

    FEMALE SUPERHERO: I really doubt you had air-resistance in mind when you were designing this.

    MALE SCIENTIST: I don’t know what you mean.

    FEMALE SUPERHERO: Then you won’t know why someone broke into your house three hours ago and replaced all your clothes with Speedos.

    MALE SCIENTIST: …

    FEMALE SUPERHERO: But you’ll be happy to know that they’re aerodynamic!

  124. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Nov 2008 at 2:56 am

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    I picked Maehara for his surname because I want a diverse cast but without stereotyping. I have the girlfriend, who has Greek grandparents on her mother’s side, Isaac’s friend who moved from England when he was six, and Isaac’s other friend, whose parents are from India. She also wears a steel bracelet for religious reasons. Isaac’s adoptive father has Japanese roots and his mother’s family went to Australia as convicts with the first ship. I think it reflects modern day Australia, because we’re very multicultural. If anyone thinks they’re just token Greek or token English or token Indian, that’s their problem. They actually share ethnicities with some people I know, but not the personalities.

    I think I’ll go with Isaac: Student, Waiter, Superhero. It’ll mention on the back how he’s not human, anyway.

    Okay, I think that her being pressured to dump him would spice the chapter up. I have more fun writing about Isaac, and at the end of the chapter his girlfriend and her friend see him in the school hall, so maybe she could be hinting at her to dump him there and then.

    That’s actually what happens! Haha. Yeah, he sees something creepy in teenage girls making scrapbooks of him despite knowing little or nothing about him. It also freaks him out because of the high levels of scrutiny that every movement he makes gos under.

    Yes, “Unintended Consequences” sounds much better. I don’t have an antagonist yet (That’s if you don’t count his girlfriend stealing his diary), but I’m bringing one in soon. Do you think another of his species would be good, or a government investigator who wants to know who he is? Any government would be curious as to who a superhero was and probably wish to employ or study them. I think the strength of this plot would be that Isaac would fear that his identity would become common knowledge, so try harder to balance everything.

    Okay, I’ll change it to “Night Lights and Nightlife”. It’s not just him flying to the robbery, he gets there and the chapter ends with him getting threatened with a gun. This scene is where the robber is running to a getaway car:

    “His fingers only brushed the door before I leapt forward and slammed it shut, locking him out of the vehicle. Both of us jumped out of our skins as a bullet whizzed by us, piercing the back wheel and bursting the tyre.

    You should have heard him swear. He used words that I didn’t even know existed, and I watch late night television. Then I remembered that he had a gun, too. It was just too bad that he’d already shoved it into my face before the police got to us.”

    In the next one, “Gunplay”, he disarms the robber.

    I like “World of Hurt”, and “A Demon in Pigtails”.

    They don’t really hate eachother, it’s just that Isaac sees her as a bit ungrateful because she’s always picking fights and getting into trouble, and doesn’t even talk. He on the other hand, cooks dinner on weekends, tries his hardest at everything and never gets into fights unless absolutely necessary. Isaac’s fond of her, but says that he’s having trouble loving a mean little She-Hulk. He sympathizes with her to a degree, but feels that she crossed the line a few kilometres back.

    I think the URL of the website would be better if it were carved into his desk at school. That’s how a lot of things get viral, because the students write it down and check it out after class.

  125. B. Macon 04 Nov 2008 at 7:12 am

    I don’t think it’s a stereotyping/token problem or that his ethnicity is otherwise problematic, but there are probably other names of the same ethnicity that have a better sound.

  126. Bretton 04 Nov 2008 at 11:03 am

    What would you think of a Headmaster Gabriel, Headmaster Zoltan, Headmaster Ziya or Headmaster Eleazar?

  127. B. Macon 04 Nov 2008 at 11:05 am

    Gabriel or Zoltan would be solid. I like Eleazar as well, but it might be smoother as Alazar.

  128. Bretton 04 Nov 2008 at 11:19 am

    I think Gabriel might be best then. It really sticks out, and I don’t think I’ve used the letter G for any other names, so he won’t get confused with anyone.

  129. Bretton 07 Nov 2008 at 9:17 am

    Some planned chapters I am requesting feedback on:

    Chapter 9: The Nuisance
    Alex wakes up to see Whit in a towel. He freaks out. Later he goes to his first class. He sees Kíra and Livír again in this class. He runs into the prankster annoyance Stephen Stait, who annoys Alex throughout the day by constantly pestering him using his shock touch power. The chapter focuses on Alex struggling to keep his cool and not torch the kid, after remembering his encounter with the Axe Grinders. Kíra and Livír help to keep him calm.

    Chapter 10: Round Two– Fight!
    Later, Alex meets up with Edmond and the two decide to check out Míten Sias. As they are exploring, they meet up with the Axe Grinders, still sore from the last battle. Alex decides that since they’re outside of school, there’s nothing to hold him back. He and Edmond enter into a full scale fight with them, this time Alex uses the Zolfír Vaichar and it is revealed that Edmond morph objects into weapons. They fight until some Knights show up. Alex considers covering their escape route with fire but it would be too obvious who was involved. They instead escape by using Alex’s powers and some cloth to create a makeshift flying balloon.

    Chapter 11: Triple Threat
    The Jainar triplets run into Alex and begin persecuting him again. He challenges them to a duel. He is allowed two of his friends as partners.

    Chapter 12: This Is Gonna Be Fun
    Alex enters into the duel with the Jainar triplets with Whit and Amorelia as partners.

    Thoughts?

  130. Bretton 07 Nov 2008 at 9:24 am

    Oh, Kíra and Livír are Amorelia’s friends that she introduced to Alex dutin chapter 6 by the way.

    Kíra- innocent, kind, near-perfect elf-girl with the power to absorb/redirect/control raw energy and the ability to levitate for short periods of time. Her levitation power is limited becuase true flight is extremely rare in this world, and ancient humans were the only ones to master it (gliders). The farther away she is from the ground, the more difficult her levitation becomes.

    Livír- inner city “black girl” giantess who is considered fairly short for her race with invulnerability, super-strength, and the power to create shockwaves.

  131. B. Macon 07 Nov 2008 at 11:11 am

    I like “The Nuisance.” I’m not sure what’s going on with seeing Whit in a towel, though.

    “Round Two– Fight!” could probably be shortened to just “Round Two.” I think the Fight! clause sounds a bit too much like Mortal Combat, heh.

    Triple Threat is OK. In terms of substance, it sounds like the battle will be a series of duels rather than a single 3-on-3 battle. That should make your choreography much easier. I suspect that readers will predict the following to happen: Whit will lose, Amorelia will win (although not in that order), and then it will come down to Alex to break the tie. One way you could twist that is to have Whit win, then Alex loses and Amorelia breaks the tie (either with a win or loss, depending on whether you want them to win at this point). I’d recommend giving at least one of Alex or Amorelia a loss to show their abilities/skills developing over time.

    Another way you could tweak this chapter is if it’s not immediately clear that Whit and/or Amorelia actually want to fight against the twins and Alex has to convince them.

    This is Gonna Be Fun is borderline-OK, although it’s told from the perspective of the characters more so than the titles of the last few chapters, which come from the perspective of the narrator. Another character-perspective one you could consider is “Let’s Do This,” which is shorter.

    The substance of this sounds pretty good. If you’d like to mix things up a bit, you could consider having Alex and/or the team lose, as above, or you could give the duels unusual parameters (no hands, no weapons, etc. to make the heroes improvise). Or you could work in the element of strategy by having the triplets cockily say which of them will fight in which order, so the good guys can plan accordingly (Alex might volunteer to fight the strongest of them, for example).

  132. Bretton 07 Nov 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Great Ideas! The whole Whit-in-a-towel scene is to illustrate how even though she’s a social person she can be socially insensitive. Alex is freaking out because she’s “indecent” and Whit doesn’t really care.

    I think I’ll go with this scenario:
    “One way you could twist that is to have Whit win, then Alex loses and Amorelia breaks the tie” because Whit probably wouldn’t lose the fight uless it was to someone much bigger/stronger than her. She fights like a savage. Amorelia probably wouldn’t lose because she’s so elite. Also, the loss could humble Alex a bit. What do you think of this: Whit fights the first triplet and wins. The one she fought freaks out (“she fights like a savage!”) and the triplets strategize and goad Alex into getting angry and going next so they can notch a win. Since the triplets are so elite, they could beat Alex. Amorelia is the wild card. Also, Whit would be eager to fight because she wanted to the last time Alex faced the triplets. Amorelia would take some convincing. Your thoughts?

  133. Bretton 07 Nov 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Also, you didn’t know before but Zolfir Vaichar is the name of Alex’s sword and Miten Sias is teh city that the Academy is in. Sorry to tell you after the fact.

  134. Bretton 07 Nov 2008 at 2:59 pm

    So what do you think?

  135. B. Macon 07 Nov 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I think that the element of savagery is very interesting for the friendly-but-socially-insensitive Whit. I love it!

    Yeah, I think the loss could humble Alex. He’s the only one on his team that couldn’t beat an elf — surely the triplets would remind him of that forever. (Also, if you don’t mind portraying them as sexist, they could later taunt him because he needed two girls to save him). They could also claim after the fact that they went easy on the girls, because they’re so “civilized” and elven, and that Alex only picked two women to take advantage of elven decency.

    In retrospect, if Amorelia’s defining aspect is eliteness, it would make sense that she’s the one that pulls out the tie-breaking win. I think your take on this is solid. (Whit wins, Alex loses, Amorelia wins).

    It also makes sense that she’d need the most convincing. Maybe she sees the triplet’s taunts and the duel as totally below her and so she doesn’t think it’s worth her time. I wonder what Alex might have to promise her to convince her otherwise. (IE: what does she think is worth her time?)

    This is also a good opportunity to show the triplets as hypocritical if you care to. When they’re fighting, I’d recommend having them grossly take advantage of the rules and/or take low blows. I think it would be especially awesome if Alex lost because he agreed to some seemingly insignificant rule that inadvertently gave them a huge advantage over him.

  136. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Oh my god, you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to find this section, and it was right in my face, I went totally blonde for a moment haha.

    Well, I just wanted to say that I’m going to start coming up with chapters soon and posting them. I don’t know why that needed foreshadowing, I’m dizzy today hahaha.

  137. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Also, the triplets are girls.

  138. B. Macon 09 Nov 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Ah. Then that probably wouldn’t work.

  139. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Ok, I came up with these magic fields for my novela. I want to keep the names simple and straight to the point.

    White Magic includes protection, healing, light, purification and at higher levels revival.

    Black Magic includes curses, poison, darkness and necromancy. It’s not necessarily evil.

    Red Magic enhances the caster’s physical abilities or weakens the opponent’s physical ability. It’s typically used by mages that like to get physical.

    Blue Magic handles conjuration, enchantment and alteration. Usually the caster summons an object and then enchants it with different auras. It’s a very versatile field. Adrian is a Blue Mage.

    Elemental Magic controls the natural elements. Elemental mages that specialize in other fields are rare.

    Alchemistic Magic handles the alteration, combination, or transmutation of material as well as living things. It’s like Blue Magic but alchemism deals more with the material side of magic rather than the enchanting side. This field is sometimes considered playing God. Alchemism also creates potions and elixirs.

    Summoning Magic specializes in the summoning and manipulation of other worldly creature and spirits or invoking their abilities. This is Jiminy’s speciality.

    Fortunistic Magic specializes in the outer aspects of reality. It can manipulate luck and order. At high levels, precognition and time manipulation are possible. This is the toughest field to master and is highly coveted.

    All of the magic fields have their own forms of conjuration, blast spells, and high status abilities. All mages have the same basic skills like magic senses and, to a degree, psychic ability.

    I’d greatly appreciate any opinions and advice.

    Also, I need a little help with Blue Magic. I do want to keep it, but is it unique enough to be a field or should I add something extra to set it apart? Or is enchantment enough?

  140. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 9:07 pm

    I’m not big on “magic”, but it seems to me that the main difference between Blue and Alchemistic magic is that while Alchemistic magin turns one thing into another, Blue magin takes something and does not change it, but makes it better. You could play this up by making it impossible to alter an object’s physical form with blue magic, but making is very possible to change some of its properties.

    e.g. arrows fly farther, swords stay sharper longer, armor and weaponry is enveloped in a mystic aura that renders it Excalibur-level invincible, etc.

    And how is black magic not evil again?

  141. B. Macon 10 Nov 2008 at 2:02 am

    Brett, I think that what R.B. meant is that his black mages are not necessarily nefarious, evil people. Although R.B.’s black magic does not sound very heroic (poison, necromancy, etc.), nothing there precludes black mages from being friendly, nice people. In fact, someone could probably become a black mage for benevolent reasons. I imagine that someone that wanted to be a healer might study black as well as white magic, so that he could treat poison and bodily decay more competently. And necromancy might provide closure to the survivors of the recently deceased, giving them precious extra minutes to speak with their departed loved ones. (At a more modern level, criminal investigators and coroners might also benefit from black magic).

    On a stylistic note, R.B., I would recommend uncapitalizing the styles of magic. I’d say just white magic instead of “White Magic” because I think that capital letters tend to stick out more.

    On a more substantial level, I would recommend simplifying the magical system a bit by reducing the number of types of magic if possible. I think readers would find it easier to learn about 4-5 than 8. For example, you could probably merge blue magic and alchemy pretty easily, and red magic feels kind of like a subset of blue magic.

    It might look something like this:

    1: white magic (healing/protection/ect). I would recommend eliminating revival because that will make death and the fear of death much less dramatic.
    2: black magic (poison/death/etc.)
    3: augmentation magic (or whatever you want to call it)– this is the ability to change physical abilities or alter/transmute material.
    4: elemental
    5: fortune magic (I’ve tweaked the name a bit, but that’s just a suggestion obviously)
    6: summoning

    If all the types of magic have their own kinds of blast spells, you may wish to consider getting rid of elemental magic because it’s kind of superfluous then. I’m kind of struggling to think of what you could do with elemental control that isn’t a kind of blast spell. At best, I’m coming up with things like “I’m going to make myself as strong as rock!” which overlap heavily with the augmentation category. For the sake of clarity, I would recommend trying to prevent overlaps as much as possible to keep the categories of magic distinct.

    I am particularly fond of fortune magic, even though I think it’ll be harder to depict than the other types of magic.

  142. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 5:54 am

    Hey! Bending! I suggest you watch Avatar: The Last Airbender to get some ideas about elemental magic. They are very creative in their use of bending.

    e.g. Toph is blind but can see by sensing vibrations in the earth, Katara can “bend” the water in another person’s bloodstream and use them as a puppet, Aang can create a small ball of air called an “air scooter” to ride on, Zuko can redirect lightning.

  143. Ragged Boyon 10 Nov 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Oh Yeah I know all about Avatar. I loved that show and then they ended it. Damn you Nickelodeon

  144. Ragged Boyon 10 Nov 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Hummm, I like your suggestions alot B.Mac and Brett. I think I will remove revival from white magic. And if either dark or white magic users wanted to resurrect someone, not only would you have to be extremely powerful, but it would take some ultimate sacrifice (a deal with death, human sacrifices).

    I don’t know, I kind of want alot of fields, but I can take a few out. I think I will merge red magic into general magic, but I do want to keep alchemy separate from blue magic, because alchemy is such a large field. On a base level I think they’re pretty distinct from one another. I will probably also merge elements with generl magic, but you can still specialize in it, whereas a regular mage (of another category) might just want to learn a fireball spell or something.

    So I’m looking at 6-7 possible fields, it’s probably a little much, but I think if I portray them right it could works.

    Did I leave anything out?

    Thanks for the help! Be back soon!

  145. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:01 am

    I am going to start writing soon, but not in my actual notebook for the story, in a composition book. Then I’ll give it revision. I’ll post new things as they come up.

    And the conclusion to my magic is above. I’ll post any interesting new things accordingly.

  146. Ragged Boyon 24 Nov 2008 at 8:44 am

    You should probably put this section where it can be found easily.

  147. C. S. Marloweon 01 Apr 2009 at 1:35 pm

    My story is entitled ‘The Vampire’s Companion’. I tried to take into account some of the advice used on here, and now I’m just wondering if that sounds interesting.
    Thoughts?

  148. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Did somebody mention Avatar? I freakin love that show!

    Oh, right, that was months ago…

    Umm… the name is good because everyone knows what a vampire is, so it speaks to the audience. But you should probably get a second opinion on that…

  149. Holliequon 01 Apr 2009 at 2:20 pm

    The Vampire’s Companion is okay, I guess. I think ‘companion’ is the weak word, here. What is this companion like? For example, if they were crazy, you might title the story ‘The Vampire’s Lunatic’. (I don’t think they actually are crazy, that was just an example). This seems a bit more interesting.

    What do you think?

  150. C. S. Marloweon 01 Apr 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Possibly, yeah. When I say ‘companion’ I mean as in the literal sense. She’s lonely, so she half hypnotizes him, half charms him into coming with her to act as a friend, a companion, that sort of thing. ‘The Vampire’s Travelling Companion’ somehow doesn’t seem to have the right feel, xD.

  151. C. S. Marloweon 01 Apr 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Note: Just occurred to me some might think that ‘The Vampire’s Travelling Companion’ would make a good title for a comedy or a surreal story. Sadly, it’s neither. More of a Gothic mystery/drama.

  152. B. Macon 01 Apr 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I agree that “companion” is the weak word in The Vampire’s Companion. It needs a bit more style, and perhaps another detail altogether.

  153. Davidon 02 Apr 2009 at 7:32 am

    im trying to come up with a titel for my story

    how about
    The cronicels of otherworld the Banshee, the Angel and the book lol

    or The Banshee quest

    A tale of a Banshee

    these are just a few i could think of any sugestions

  154. Ragged Boyon 02 Apr 2009 at 8:35 am

    None of them really stand out to me. The Banshee, The Angel, and the Book reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia.

    I think the problem is that we don’t get an impression of the story from these titles. What is the style of the story? What are the themes? I’m not that good at fantasy titles, but how about A Banshee’s Cry or Banshee: The Arcane.

    Hope this helps.

  155. B. Macon 02 Apr 2009 at 9:13 am

    –I’d absolutely stay away from “Tale” (or “Quest”) because they’re too bland and don’t say anything about what kind of story you’re writing. Please see #3 in this article.

    –I’d recommend avoiding “banshee” because I don’t think it’ll help you make the case to prospective readers. The people that are familiar with banshees think of them as screaming monsters, but your story does not actually use the banshees in that way. So I think that identifying the character as a banshee in the title is a red herring.

  156. Tomon 02 Apr 2009 at 10:39 am

    Kaspar the Friendly Banshee?

    I kid, I kid.

    Umm… I really don’t know what to suggest.

  157. Holliequon 02 Apr 2009 at 11:51 am

    I’m afraid I have no suggestions either right now. If it’s about bridging a peace between angels and banshees, perhaps that could inspire the title a little?

    Whilst I’m thinking about it, I was thinking of stealing my ch. 2 title, “Through The Shining Door” as the title of the novel. What do you think?

  158. B. Macon 02 Apr 2009 at 11:54 am

    I think it feels too artsy. I have no idea what it’s about.

  159. Holliequon 02 Apr 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hmm. Ah well, it’ll do as a stand-in until I come up with something better.

  160. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Say, how are my titles?

    Novel Title: How to Save the World

    Chapter One: Five to Freedom

    Chapter Two (planned): Sugar Makes the World Go Round

  161. B. Macon 02 Apr 2009 at 12:53 pm

    How to Save the World is a good start, but I’d recommend adding another detail/clause to suggest what your story is about and add style.

    I have no idea what “Five to Freedom” means. “Sugar Makes the World Go Round” sounds interesting.

  162. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I’m going through the titles of literally all my old concept titles now. All are fiction of some sort, from fantasy to sci-fi, and the majority are not intended to portray a humorous story.

    Here’s one (more will come):

    Between Light and Darkness

    It’s a fantasy romance lightly dealing in the paranormal. Whatcha think? Just don’t be too cruel, OK?

    – Wings

  163. Ragged Boyon 02 Apr 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Don’t be cruel? Don’t be cruel!? I’ll be as cruel as I want to be! RAWWRR! 🙂

    I understand it, but it doesn’t make me think of romance. I just think fantasy. It makes me think of the idea that exists between light and darkness. Was your aim that one character was “light” and the other was “dark” and that they come together?”

  164. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Yes, but it goes a little deeper then that. The plot revolves around two enemies (Light and Darkness respectively) fighting for the control of two pearls which have the power to grant the user’s greatest wish. (Ironically, their greatest wishes are for the same thing: to see their childhood friend again) Then, we have rebellious Aya, on the side of light, and cowardly Zar, on the side of darkness. The children of the enemy leaders, they become unlikely allies and travel to the armies’ homeland, to unravel the cause of the war once and for all.

    – Wings 🙂

  165. Wingson 09 Apr 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Just in: If you want advice for chapter titles, hunt down the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I mean, here’s the first chapter title:

    I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher.

    Plus, the book’s hilarious.

    -Wings

  166. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 2:04 pm

    lol, Percy Jackson. I really shouldn’t enjoy that since I’m kinda too old to be reading them, but they have Greek mythology, I can’t resist. I lurve Greek mythology.

    Yeah, they can be pretty funny sometimes. They also make excellent use of the first person, which is pretty rare in literature but seems to be the person of choice on this site for some weird reason…

    When’s the fifth one coming out by the way?

  167. Wingson 09 Apr 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I think in March or May.

    Wow – someone else who loves Greek Mythology as much as I do!

  168. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Haha, I checked out the table of contents for The Lightning Thief. It looks hilarious.

    1: I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher
    2: Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death
    3: Grover Unexpectedly Loses His Pants
    4: My Mother Teaches Me Bullfighting
    5: I Play Pinochle With a Horse

    That all sounds excellent.

  169. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Apr 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Haha. I would’ve loved to vaporize my algebra teacher. That’d teach him for failing me! It’s my own fault, I guess. My mind hates numbers. What is one million gillion times a zillion? I don’t know, but I doubt my maths teacher could spell antidisestablishmentarianism. Ha! I WIN! 😉

  170. Wingson 16 Apr 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Same here, Whovian. Math = torture.

    – Wings

  171. Holliequon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:12 am

    I like maths. D: It makes sense. And my teacher’s really awesome. That does help.

  172. C. S. Marloweon 07 May 2009 at 8:58 am

    Hah, reading the comments and this article makes me feel so lazy, I stole my first chapter title or two from a fellow writer. Well, the title for chapter one anyway. The prologue is entitled ‘Exodus.’ (Escape felt a bit cliched.) Chapter one is The ‘Dead Goddess’, Chapter Two is ‘Bound For Southampton’, and Chapter Three is ‘Harmless.’
    (mutter, poke) Not so keen on the title for chapter three though.

  173. H.G. Miltonon 26 May 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Generally, titled chapters bug me, as they detract from the mood and bounce me out of the story. What bugs me even more is chapters that don’t have numbers, like in Harry Potter. Usually it’s just curiosity that drives me to find out which chapter I’m on, but sometimes if I’m try to remember my place but the pages are into the hundreds and therefore harder to recall, it’s much easier to think, “Okay, I know I was on chapter six,” than, “I’m pretty sure I was halfway down page three-hundred and eighty seven.”

  174. Ragged Boyon 26 May 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I like titled chapters. Although, I hate when their one word. I’m reading Raymond E. Feist and all his chapter are one simple word. The chapter title Discovery is repeated throughout his collection.

  175. Tomon 27 May 2009 at 3:30 am

    The problem with one word titles is you’re really restraining yourself. A lot of the time the idea you’re trying to convey in a chapter can’t be summed up in one word you haven’t used before. Hence in Robert Muchamore’s CHERUB series a variation on the chapter title ‘briefing’ has been used approximately once per book. I’m pretty sure other titles have been used more than once too. This also applies to television episode titles. Smallville is really struggling with this. I don’t think they anticipated this many seasons and therefore are really having trouble coming up with one word episode titles.

  176. trekfanon 14 Jul 2009 at 11:00 am

    I’ve actually never tried titles with my chapters. So…I guess I’ll throw some out there with some brief synopsis.

    Ch. 1-Basically, it’s the set up chapter for the entire story. It introduces the main character, his occupation, what he’s hunting, and who he’s with. From there, he has his orders to move out and confront the man simply known as “The Target.”

    The confrontation goes badly. His team is killed, and in a desperate attempt to save his friend, he is shot and severely wounded.

    The man looked at Mike with a pity in his eyes. “So young.” He aimed and fired. Mike fell off the roof from the force of the bullet and landed on the ground below.

    He drifted in and out of consciousness for a few minutes. The last thing he heard was a woman’s scream.

    The woman’s scream would be that of his commander. Anyways…title ideas?

    I was thinking something like “Failure is an Option” but I fear that may foreshadow too much.

    As always any and all comments are welcome. 🙂

  177. esnippleeon 02 Jul 2010 at 5:07 pm

    hmm… thinking of a title. i’ve thought of “banishing a difference” but really thats completely focused on the start. “banishing a difference, its not like it will save the world?” uhhh… “banishing a difference, its not like it will help us” i like that, but its a little wordy and maybe it wouldnt fit my target audience. and also i dont know if i fit its standard. i know around what sort of audience its targeted at, but i’m not sure what age they are. its confusing and i really fail.

  178. esnippleeon 02 Jul 2010 at 5:10 pm

    i think i know i keep thinking its like less then thirteen but i have no idea. trash my post. i know now. just tell me if it fits.. it doesnt does it. meh i’ll think of something better.

  179. ekimmakon 13 Sep 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I’m trying to get my novel finished in the next month or so, but I’m stuck trying to get the characters to the big finale. My writing is sort of big action scene, group of skits, big action scene, group of skits, and so on. I’m stuck in a group of skits.

    But, I also wanted to know how well these chapter titles work.

    Chapter 1: Welcome to BioTech
    Chapter 2: Graveyard Sector
    Chapter 3: Superhuman High
    Chapter 4: A Stroke of Luck
    Chapter 5: Scientific Atrocity
    Chapter 6: Illegal for Existing
    Chapter 7: Premonitions
    Chapter 8: Flight of the Buzz Bomber

    I still have one or two chapters to write, though, and haven’t gotten names for them. An important thing to know is that the first 4 chapters are basically the same day over and over again, but from different PoVs.

  180. B. Macon 13 Sep 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I think “Welcome to BioTech” could be more distinct. What sort of role does BioTech play in the story? Is it a heroic organization or more of a Frankenstein freak show?

    Graveyard Sector and Superhuman High feel effective to me.

    A Stroke of Luck sounds sort of bland. What’s at stake?

    Scientific Atrocity is interesting.

    Illegal for Existing could probably be smoother. For example, Unlawful Existence or Felony Existence or maybe Existence in the First Degree or Born Criminal.

    Premonitions is interesting but it may help to add a modifier (probably an adjective).

    I really like Flight of the Buzz Bomber.

  181. ekimmakon 13 Sep 2010 at 11:10 pm

    BioTech Industries is a corrupt science corporation. The main character is seen being thrown in a prison cell, where he talks with other occupants and the first concept of superhumans is introduced. It’s sort of an ironic title, as it sounds like the sort of thing a tour guide would say, when the reality is you’re locked in a cage, waiting for experiments. Lots and lots of painful experiments.

    A Stroke of Luck introduces two characters: Calvin and Ace. It starts with Calvin’s setting (the water), but also brings Ace into it. The second half is just Ace, showing off his luck power in a casino, both to drive it into bankruptcy and to escape the bad guys trying to kill him.

    Illegal for Existing is the chapter where its revealed that superhumans are outlaws. You’re right, it could be smoother, I’m just not sure how.

    Premonitions is the fight to prevent their capture. After they pull that off, a catastrophe occurs, just like clockwork. Start of the next chapter, they start investigating these disasters. The Buzz Bomber is the guy responsible, and he’s only representing the real danger.

  182. ShardReaperon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’ve only got four chapters titled so far:

    1. Welcome to Omega (Jake joins the team.)
    2. City of Supers (Omega investigates the disappearance of a Hero team.)
    3. Eagle Eye (Adam, Rex, and Jake investigate action in the Azeroth caves.)
    4. Hero Time (Omega leads the assault against the Splicer invasion.)

  183. ekimmakon 14 Sep 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Changing the title for Premonitions to Pyromania. It’s more relevant to the plot of that exact chapter, although it might also give it away abit.

  184. ekimmakon 14 Sep 2010 at 5:26 pm

    And changing Illegal for Existing to Illegal Existence.

  185. Nicholas Caseon 11 Feb 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Okay, I think I’ve got a winner!

    Edge of Tomorrow: A Year Until the End

    Is that good enough B.Mac?!

  186. Nicholas Caseon 18 Mar 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Okay, here it is-the epic title.

    Shock
    The Cold One

    I just hope people won’t think this is some vampire love story though.

  187. Ivanon 22 May 2011 at 12:22 am

    I’m thinking about naming my chapters with lines from “across the universe” by the beatles. Would this create a copyright hassle that would turn editors off of my book?

  188. B. Macon 22 May 2011 at 3:07 am

    I think you’d have to get permission from the people that own the rights to the song in question. One author suggests that it’d probably be pretty expensive). Legal matters aside, I’d wonder if these are really the most effective chapter titles possible.

  189. EvilpixieAon 22 May 2011 at 6:26 am

    @Nicholas Case

    Ohhh, I like it!
    If I saw that sitting on the shelf I would pick it up for closer inspection.

  190. Mynaon 22 May 2011 at 6:56 am

    I like Shock, but ‘The Cold One’ sounds very much like Twilight that even if your story has nothing to do with vampires the name recognition would be a problem… frozen one maybe?

  191. Fletcheron 07 Jan 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Just for people that didn’t see a previous post I made elsewhere, I am writing a book based on a dream I had a while back.
    The Novel is about a 16 year old boy Fletcher Smith and he’s an orphan, he knows nothing of his parents. He’s picked on by a Bully whose Brothers a big time gangster. He’s not a nerd but he’s not popular, he’s in the middle. He gets average grades, lives in an average orphanage and goes to an average school.
    One day he’s hit by a meteor, embedded inside is a crystal which, when touched, turns him into half the essence of light itself.
    He gains his powers slowly, they only fully grow at the end of Part I (it has 2 Parts) and inside his head is a programmed mentor (a bit like Jor-El in Superman.)
    Fletcher gets in trouble with the law with his powers, so has to avoid the Police while stopping crooks, super humans and his half brother (The Dark) from destroying the universe.

    I have the Novel worked out but what I want some help with, is the title of the book.
    His Hero name is ‘The Light’, named by the media and eventually himself.
    Could you guys help me, I’d appreciate it.

    -Fletcher 😀

  192. JTSon 04 Jun 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Hey B. Mac and others, I am trying to come up with a title for my novel. It is a fantasy novel. Just tell me what come to your mind when you hear this title:

    “The Dragon Tongue Legacy”

    This would be for the name of the series rather than the title of an individual book. I’ll give the premise once I get some feedback so that I get an idea of how well this title works. Please do not try to spare my feelings, I need all the help I can get. Thanks all.

    JTS

  193. B. McKenzieon 04 Jun 2013 at 7:12 pm

    If “tongue” means a language dragons use (i.e. we’re talking about a dragon’s mother tongue and not its actual tongue), I’d suggest making Dragontongue one word. Otherwise, I think it feels like we’re talking about the legacy of a dragon’s tongue, which would be very unexpected and/or morbid indeed.



    Either way, I’m not sure this is the best way to sell the series. Legacy strikes me as sort of a bland word, and depending on what sort of story you’re trying to introduce, I suspect there are probably more interesting ways to incorporate dragons into a title than “Dragon Tongue” or Dragontongue (e.g. His Majesty’s Dragon does a good job selling an unusual premise).

  194. JTSon 04 Jun 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you B. Mac, I really appreciate your input. You are correct in assuming that it is a language, I have been brain storming for months trying to find a better name. As you noticed, it can be take as very strange and uncomfortable (who wants to read about a tongue in the body part sense). What do you consider a stronger word to replace Legacy. The characters get the powers passed on to them but not by blood but by the time they were born so Legacy sounded better than Descendants. The second the last DT dies in the generation before, seven children are born and their powers show up eighteen years later. There are seven DTs in all, one for each kingdom, with the exception of my main characters who are fraternal twins and share the same power. So there are actually eight in this generation.

    The reason I called them Dragontongues was because of their ability to speak to the dragons as well as their individual powers. They were created by the God of the fantasy world to protect the dragons from the hunter that seek to exterminate them, one of the hunters is the king of one of the kingdoms. Dragons were originally the consciences of the people but everyone lost the ability to speak with them when they began battling to save their land from a massive civil war. Only the DTs retained the language.

    I have also been debating wether I should change my MCs name from Aivan to something else. I have already read the article on this site about names and stuff and I am still not sure what to think.

    Thanks for helping out a befuddled, newbie writer.
    JTS

  195. JTSon 04 Jun 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I just realized how confusing the explanation for the passing on of powers is. Here is a clearer explanation. There are seven Dragontongues (completely new name is still in consideration). The second after the last one of them die, the next generation is born (as in, given birth to) and the powers appear eighteen years later.

  196. JTSon 05 Jun 2013 at 9:23 am

    Please, excuse the terrible punctuation of my posts above. Ipads are a pain-in-the-rear to type on.

  197. Timothyon 05 Jun 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Would ‘Havoc: Earth’s Mightiest Murderers’ be a good title for my story? Its about a group of antiheroes who assassinate people in order to make a living (Havoc is the name of their team).

  198. B. McKenzieon 05 Jun 2013 at 6:43 pm

    My suggestion would be to remove “Havoc:” from the title and let “Earth’s Mightiest Murderers” stand by itself. EMM does a pretty good job laying out a fairly unusual premise with flair while doing a pretty good job showing us what the author’s style is like.

  199. DDTLon 06 Jun 2013 at 3:58 am

    How about “The Ashes of Eden” (or alternatively “The Ashes of Heaven”) for a Sci-Fi/uchronia/cyberpunk story?

  200. B. McKenzieon 06 Jun 2013 at 6:21 am

    If the story doesn’t have a religious angle, I’d like The Ashes of Eden better. It strikes me as an effective, interesting title, with (I think) a bit less ambiguity about the content of the book (e.g. The Ashes of Heaven could plausibly be about fallen angels or some other fantasy work).

  201. JTSon 06 Jun 2013 at 7:09 am

    Wow, those are awesome title, however, I accidentally misled you guys. The story that I put in the post was actually the origin of the powers, sort of an explanation for why the world is the way it is in the present, where my MCs are the fourth generation of the Dragontonues and it is set 300 years after the first Dragontongues are made. Sorry for the confusion. On a side note, the title you gave me would work absolutely perfect for another book idea that has angels as the MCs.

  202. DDTLon 06 Jun 2013 at 7:12 am

    Well there is a slight religious angle with some characters, but the story is mostly about different individuals within countries/organisations/corporations on an alternative Earth ruled by 4 dominant species (one of them are eagle like being named Archangels) fighting each other to create their own vision of the perfect world (which translate into “Freedom”, “Control”, “Abundance” or “Order” depending on the side) and/or saving the world from an supposedly imminent Chaos/apocalypse.

    Plot include telekinetic reptile and other god-like superpowered individuals, a microscopic extraterrestrial organism named “the Ash” which will lead to great technological advances (and disasters), mind control, nanotechnology and stuff like that.

    I plan it to be quite dark and brutal, with most of the characters motivated by fear and desespair rather than hope, with no “good” or “evil” sides, where protagonists can become antagonists from one volume to another.

  203. JTSon 06 Jun 2013 at 10:24 am

    I feel so stupid now. I thought DDTL and B. McKenzie were replying to my post. Lol. Sorry DDTL I liked your title so much I wanted to steal it. 😉 no worries, thousands more words for me to choose from. The story you have put together, DDTL, sound interesting. How are you going to keep the audiences interested when the characters are jumping from protags to antags? Is it based on the perspective of the character you are dealing with at the moment? So with one volume you have convinced your audience that one race is the good side and they’re rooting for that race and then you switch to another race in the next book and now the readers are having doubts about who is the actual good side? It sounds complicated, but the good kind of complicated.

  204. DDTLon 06 Jun 2013 at 10:45 am

    Well the trick is there is no “good” or “bad” race. Actually many conflicts are WITHIN each race (like one reptilian nation against another reptilian nation, or one archangel corporation against another archangel corporation, or even between two individuals in the same “side”).

    My sentence was poorly phrased: it’s the different countries/organisations/corporations which are fighting each other rather than the races. For instance one “side” of my world is a multi-specie Illuminati-like secret organisation plotting to expand their influence and take other countries and corporations from the inside to prevent the apocalypse (or whatever they believe will happen).

    It’s more about characters than “races”. For instance each volume will have two different point-of-view characters.

    Thanks for your comment anyway, glad it sounded interesting for you 🙂

  205. JTSon 06 Jun 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hey B. Mac, I have another question for you. I have been thinking about replacement names for “Dragontongue” as the name of the hero-group and was wondering if the name “Gifted” sounded too cheesy.
    Another name I have come up with, “Scalies” or maybe “Scaleskins” (the heroes are characterized by patches of dragon scales in various places depending on where they are from), is a nickname that their enemies gave them to make them seem less likable, or gross, to the masses, however, the first generation of heroes took a liking to the name and it stuck, now being used as their names in “legends” hundreds of years later.

  206. Blackscaron 06 Jun 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Hello! I’ve returned for some more feedback, if that’s all right.

    My novel is currently titled “Half-Hearted”. I will now give a brief summary of the book.

    ((WARNING: EXTREMELY LONG POST AHEAD. PROCEED WITH UTMOST CAUTION. Haha, I’m joking, but seriously; the incoming post is very lengthy.))

    In a seemingly normal cafe, many people patronize it with little thought of who might be pulling the strings. The only demons that they know are the ones they see in comic books, manga, or political parties. They don’t expect such an innocent-looking building with a cute little name, such as “The Final Ground”, to be so demented.

    Little do the inhabitants of Argento City know that the things they call ‘supernatural’ aren’t as imaginary as they would like. Demons and dhampirs run rampant behind closed curtains, and werewolves and vampires stalk the night.

    Seth Grayson, a snarky teenage blogger with an affinity for swordplay and Alice Blakemoor, an irascible seventeen year old girl who really hates her job as a waitress at The Final Ground, accidentally stumble upon The Final Ground’s darkest secret: it’s a front for one of the most dangerous hitman organizations in that side of the country, Rebuilt. Most of the employees are members of Rebuilt, many of them being nonhumans.

    During a seemingly routine Wednesday night, one of Rebuilt’s many enemies chooses to raid The Final Ground, ensnaring Seth and Alice into the midst of the chaos. After a rough fight where their potentially dangerous powers are revealed to both groups, one of Rebuilt’s most efficient hit-men offers them each a position as novice trainees.

    It should have been an easy refusal, as Rebuilt only makes contracts with nonhumans. They hunt and kill those who commit crimes against the few demons who truly have done no wrong.

    It should have been an easy refusal, except that neither Seth nor Alice are human.
    It’s a halfhearted acceptance, but it saves both of their lives.
    Lately, more and more seemingly infallible city officials have been listed as targets. Simultaneously, more and more of Rebuilt’s members have been disappearing without a trace. The corpses are discovered weeks later, dismembered and mangled until they are totally unrecognizable.

    All evidence points towards the city’s officials, who seem as though they have finally located Rebuilt’s whereabouts and are planning a counterattack.

    It’s a classic case of good versus evil, but as to whom is aligned with what is up for debate.

    As assassins-in-training, both Seth and Alice must now answer the following question: is the darkest side always the most evil?

    Wow, that was long. I am so, so sorry about this.

    Anyways, my first chapter has been named. I promise that every subsequent post won’t be this long.
    Ah, I’d better get to the point and actually post what I originally meant to type.

    Chapter One: The Plates Shattered, but I Swear They Broke Themselves.

    ((Seth is leisurely walking Argento City’s streets, on his way to his part-time job as The Final Ground’s pianist. He shows up at the cafe and accidentally encounters Alice, whom he has been locked in a bitter rivalry with for the past three years. He accidentally bumps into her on his way to the piano, causing her to drop the large stack of plates she was carrying. At first he tried to help her clean the mess up, but then abruptly stopped once he recognized her. She blames him for the accident, he insults her somewhat meanly, and the two start to fight.
    The power is cut right in the middle of their duel, and the fire alarm goes off. Gunshots can be heard, and rumors of a government strike are spread.))

  207. Blackscaron 06 Jun 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Err, could I please also get a review on the book itself’s title, as well?

  208. B. McKenzieon 06 Jun 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Of the three options, I think Gifted sounds the most workable (although you’ll probably come up with something more distinct in time — ideally something that makes it sound they might be more interesting than just their superpowers/demographics?)

  209. […] even found an article about how to title your story. It was just what I was looking for (read it here).  I’m just over the half-way mark of my first draft and I still have no idea what I’m […]

  210. Lunalon 08 Aug 2013 at 5:45 am

    I’m writing a novel or at least trying to do so. I don’t write in English so the title sounds a bit different of course, like the rhythm etc. but anyway… It’s a fantasy story and the name “When stars flew” has been the one I’ve come up with and actually liked. So what do you think?

  211. B. McKenzieon 08 Aug 2013 at 6:09 am

    I don’t think I’d be able to offer much help on a title which isn’t actually in English, though it may be helpful if the actual (non-English) title gave more information about the plot and/or main character and/or main conflict.

    However, that’s my take on the English. In the original language, it’s possible readers would be able to discern more information about the book from the actual title than an English-speaker can get from “When Stars Flew.” I don’t understand what a flying star is (a shooting star?) or what kind of story this would be.

  212. Blackscaron 19 Aug 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Hello, hello!

    For my novel, which centers on teenagers that go to a special school to learn to slay vampires (I’m pretty sure everyone’s sick of my incessant posting by this point; sorry about that, hehe), I was debating on the title ‘Dusk Till Dawn’.

    Do you think that would work? I only thought it would be a clever, if not overly cliched, throwback to vampires’ sleep schedules. Also, the majority of my story takes place during the night.

    For the first chapter, I was considering titling it ‘The Slayer’s Apprentice Is Mainly His Errand Girl’. (Please, feel free to correct the capitalization if I’ve done it wrong!)

    In that chapter, Alice is introduced by being sent to run errands for the slayer who happens to be the master in their master-apprentice relationship. Even though he ought to be preparing her to try to take Rosewood Academy’s initiation, he mainly uses her as a sort of errand girl while he goes out and kills the vampires (and, if he’s with a team, the occasional werewolf). However, on the way to the store, Alice happens to notice a vampire attacking a civilian in broad daylight, something that is practically unheard of save for during times of war.

    Since she has a bit of a hero complex, she decides to intervene, and because the vampire is in a weakened state, manages to help the squad of Rosewood’s slayers take it down.

    I figure that they’d invite her to attend the cram school for initiates, then, and she’d begin her training in chapter two or three, depending on how I pace everything.

    Do the titles make sense, or no?

    -Blackscar

  213. Blackscaron 19 Aug 2013 at 6:33 pm

    @Blackscar

    Also, if Dusk Till Dawn has already been taken – and I’m more than willing to bet that it has – does anyone have any alternate suggestions?

    Thanks!

  214. Proxie#0on 07 Sep 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Hello again all! I am now trying to figure out if the title for my novel is interesting enough, and also try to figure out what to name my chapters. So, to start, right now I have the title for my novel as one of two: “Where Darkness Lies,” or “Where Does Darkness Fall” or some mix of the two.

    Just so you have some background, my novel is going to be about a middle-aged teacher who returns home to the family she estranged herself from years ago. She returns in hopes of reuniting with her mother and brother, but finds her brother has just been arrested, and her mother is less than interested in her welfare. Anyways, she brings it upon herself to prove her brothers innocence before he can be taken to court. The only issue is, her brother could be just as guilty as he is accused of.

  215. Proxie#0on 07 Sep 2013 at 7:52 pm

    So I’m going to start just after the beginning of the story, at chapter one. This chapter has my main character, Audrey Malone, in a police stations waiting area, and begins as she starts a conversation Cassius Andrews, the person claiming to have been attacked by her brother. Audrey consoles him under the guise of a woman visiting her wrongly imprisoned love, hoping to glean some information about the soon to be case from him. As he stands to leave, she “trips“, scratching his arm to get some of “Cash’s” blood. After Cash leaves, Audrey gets more comfortable in her seat, positions herself, and consumes the blood sample. After a few moments, she falls asleep, and begins a Psychometric trip, allowing her to see the past 24 hours (roughly) of Cash’s memories.

    So My thoughts as to the title of this chapter are:

    Blood Trip

    Dark Divination

    Divination in Blood

  216. Jade D.on 15 Sep 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I need some total help with my title:
    The book is about this 16-year-old international criminal mastermind, who finds out he is being recruited along with his siblings (he new he had them, they just never met) to work for an international peace-keeping organization who investigates weird thing that happen (aliens, ancient technologies, time travel, ect. ) He is a bit of a wise-cracker once saying “So the UN thinks it’s a good idea to leave the fate of the world to a group of teenagers and their weird robot friend.” (ignore the last reference, that requires explanation.) “Good-bye world, nice knowing ya!”

    I need some major help, all I could come up with was:

    -The Science of Chaos
    -Those Kids who Saved the World
    -Goodbye World!
    -We’re Doomed (but it’s disappointingly not my fault)

    As you can see, I need help:(!!!

  217. Elecon 18 Oct 2013 at 2:29 am

    Whoa, Blackscar, your novel idea sounds incredible. I wish you good luck with it!

  218. Elecon 18 Oct 2013 at 2:34 am

    Jade D, something I find suitable in comedic-ish novels is having titles along the lines of ‘Fun with blah’ or ‘blah does blah, but I blah it wasn’t blah,’, as you have done with one of your titles. I would recommend keeping chapter names to at most 7 words, or the maximum that can fit on one A5 line in large font. It’s hard to come up with names when I don’t understand your story, but I hope I’ve helped.

  219. Wolfgirlon 05 Dec 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Which of these sounds the best?

    1. The Chronicles of Life and Death
    2. Conversation with Death.
    3. The Life of Death.
    4. Death back again.
    5. A Story of a Young Man Named Death
    6. Death’s Doors

    Or if you have any suggestions.

  220. Wolfgirlon 21 Dec 2013 at 11:14 am

    I think I have a good title name. Someone please rate.

    “The Extraordinary Mortal Life of a Boy Named Death”

  221. B. McKenzieon 21 Dec 2013 at 11:32 am

    “Someone please rate: ‘The Extraordinary Mortal Life of a Boy Named Death.'” I’d recommend shortening it to “A Boy Named Death” because it’s pretty self-explanatory that someone named Death has an extraordinary life. (Also, I think “A Boy Named Death” is a hell of a lot easier to remember).

  222. Wolfgirlon 21 Dec 2013 at 11:43 am

    Thanks

  223. Aj of Earthon 17 Feb 2014 at 12:30 am

    Howdy! A quick question about titles and copyright…

    If we’re talking about an original work of fiction, is a writer allowed to use existing titles of songs in their book as titles of parts? As in the larger segments of a single book in which individual chapters are found?

    Ex.:
    Part 1 (chptrs 1-7, pgs 1-50) titled Nothing Else Matters
    Part 2 (chptrs 8-16, pgs 50-100) titled Refuse/Resist

    I’m only using Metallica as an example here because the band is well-known and the titles are fairly unique/specific.

    But there we have it. Is a writer legally allowed to utilize song titles in this way?

  224. B. McKenzieon 17 Feb 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Hello, AJ of Earth. I’m not a lawyer, and neither is Anne Allen, but she says that authors are free to use song titles because they can’t be copyrighted. I don’t know anything about it, though.

    My issue would be mainly creative rather than legal. (E.g. is it more effective than what the author could have come up with on his own?)

  225. Cillian Cotteron 07 Mar 2014 at 9:53 am

    Hey, like is coming up with a name for a chapter not for more childrens fiction and not so much adult fiction?

  226. B. McKenzieon 07 Mar 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I would say it’s more common in children’s fiction, but still an option in adult fiction.

  227. Weisson 08 Mar 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Hello there! Sorry for the long hiatus; I’ve been facing some internet problems lately, and I’m considering switching providers.

    However! I’ve had some spare time to write, and I was wondering – how would the chapter title ‘Human in Demon’s Clothing’ work for a chapter focusing primarily on a character treated as delinquent trash because they happen to have a certain demonic feature about them work?

    Thanks in advance!

    ~Weiss

  228. Weisson 09 Mar 2014 at 5:59 am

    @Weiss

    Regarding my previous comment, I should mention it’s for an upcoming chapter, not a rewrite. Also, when you hear the word ‘Dragonblade’, what do you think of? Just curious; I don’t know how cliched I want a certain sword/plot element of my story to be.

    ~Weiss

  229. B. McKenzieon 09 Mar 2014 at 7:42 am

    “When you hear the word ‘Dragonblade’, what do you think of?” It sounds sort of generically fantasy.

  230. Wolfgirlon 29 Apr 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Just curious how do these two titles sounds?

    The Demon within Me
    Guardian Shinigami

    The first title is to a book about a preteen girl named Celeste. She finds out she has been possessed by a demon and has to team up with the demon possessing her to become a demon hunter or she will be killed. Along the way, her best friend/crush, Cliff, joins her and becomes a demon hunter too in order to help her (and because he likes her too but neither of them know it yet.). They are the apprentices of these two teenaged demon hunters, Will and Isabelle. Will is a cocky jerk with a hidden soft side. Isabelle, on the other hand, is a bit new to demon hunting but is extremely kind. She also has a quick wit. By the way, throughout the book, there is romance between Will and Isabelle.

    The second title is a sort of pun off of Guardian angel. Shinigami are the Japanese gods of death. So I figure it’d also be funny that a god of death would be a guardian. Anyway, the book is about girl that in Japan. She meets and, in a way, befriends a rogue shinigami.

  231. AceofXon 23 Jun 2014 at 11:47 am

    What do you think of a title that’s a paradox?

    It’s the one title that has stuck in my brain for the novel I’m writing. It is:

    “An Honest Liar.”

    Opinions?

  232. AceofXon 24 Jun 2014 at 6:15 am

    I realize I haven’t given any information on the book, but I want initial feedback, as if you just saw it in a bookstore or on a website first.

    Speaking of which, I can be slightly more specific: Fantasy.

  233. batboyon 19 Sep 2014 at 8:48 am

    Just kidding dude that’s a pretty interesting title. I want to read your book. XD

  234. AceofXon 07 Oct 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Um, batboy, are you talking to me when you say it’s an interesting title? If you are, I think you’re previous comment got blocked or deleted. If you are, thanks for the vote of confidence! I appreciate it. If you’re not, I’ll assume you are anyway.

  235. B. McKenzieon 07 Oct 2014 at 7:41 pm

    “If you are, I think your previous comment got blocked or deleted.” I don’t have any record of a previous comment.

  236. AceofXon 08 Oct 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Oh, I see. The “just kidding dude” really threw me. As I said, thank you! I have periodic times of thinking that I’m so bad I should give up (much less now that I’ve completed a preemptive rewrite and am a third of the way done, approximately), so anything that helps get through that is useful.

    That said, if anyone else wants to comment on the title, absolute honesty please. Thank you for a great site, B. McKenzie.

  237. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 14 Apr 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I have a few working titles that I wanted to get a quick opinion on. I also included brief summaries to help understand exactly why I chose the names.

    Intrahuman Residence: Red Herrings and Other Remarkable Falsehoods

    The story begins with characters being thrown in various different directions after an attempted attack on a human military base. Though this was only a feint (as the main military force attacked a different location), a group of main characters follow the forces back towards their HQ and attempt to rescue as many people as they can. They manage to rescue a few, including a side-ambiguous villain. Things begin to escalate from here as Alfred and Matthew follow Jaizons trail of bodies while Wilbur and his military unit continue their fight against the forces opposing them. All the while, Xander is scouring the far north in search of a way to reconnect with the surviving humans in Russia.

    Intrahuman Residence: Sifting through the Ringer

    The invading forces face a third party as they attempt to continue their assault on humanity, while Wilbur attempts to escape from a scientific/medical facility where he and others from his unit are being experimented on. Alfred and Matthew attempt to catch new leads on Jaizon’s activity after seeing through his attempted evasion (by switching bodies with a major military leader). Nixial and the other invading forces face down a third party that would rather attempt human-alien integration, while Xander begins working to gain the trust and support of the surviving Russo-Alien leadership (who are allied against Nixial).

    Intrahuman Residence: Fallen from the Good Ones Graces

    After nearly being killed by him, Alfred’s gusto is reinvigorated, and he continues his work on a plan to oust Jaizon while also planning Matthews escape from prison. As they continue their quest, Nixial plans to destroy the fragile alliance being formed between the North Americans, Russians, and Allied-Aliens (Novae) while also continuing to fight the southern front in what was formerly called Canada. As the pressure continues to mount, Jaizon begins plans that would destroy all of his enemies, human and alien alike.

  238. Fae Lanson 01 Nov 2017 at 7:56 am

    Struggling with a title for my latest short story. It’s middle grade fantasy story about a preteen girl born with a deformed leg. She is assigned as an apprentice to an antisocial teenage wizard prodigy. While he is a prodigy wiht spells, his social skills are severely lacking often landing him in hot water with the wizard’s council. Thus, he’s assigned Faelynn (the girl) becuase she is seen as less valuable as an apprentice. Throughout the story, they overcome the challenges of prejudice while also defeating a blind boy that was tricked into sacrificing a town to a demon to gain sight.

  239. blon 01 Nov 2017 at 4:17 pm

    First of all, sounds like a good idea, but I do have a question, when looking at your description, it appears as if the teenage prodigy gets in trouble for not liking/ hating hanging with people. why would that get him in trouble?
    Just curious (:

    Second, here is a suggestion: incantations of the infirm. A bit cheesy I will admit but based on what you’ve said something like that mite? Might? Miht? Work (forgot how to spell for a sec)

  240. Fae Lanson 27 Nov 2017 at 7:18 am

    lol. sorry i didn’t see this for almost a month somehow. Basically, Lyle can come off as disrespectful to his superiors due his lack of social skills.

  241. blon 05 Dec 2017 at 1:35 am

    Oh, ok that makes sense. I guess I misunderstood, anyway I’m sorry to bother because it sounds interesting, I’m kind of curious about the main male character would his social problems be personality, or actual disease.
    Once again sorry to bother.

  242. Faeon 06 Dec 2017 at 2:03 pm

    It’s fine. I love answering questions! Lyle was definitely written as a having severe social anxiety. I’m thinking he may be mildly autistic.

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