Monthly Archives: October 2012

“The Inkling” in Echolocation

Vuk Dragojevic

Echolocation Issue 12 Launch 
Thursday, November 1, 2012
No One Writes to the Colonel
460 College St., Toronto, ON
Readings start at 8pm

My story “The Inkling” is featured in the new issue of Echolocationthe literary journal produced by the Graduate English students at the University of Toronto.

“The Inkling” is the tale of Jarls Jensen, a failed journalist, who seeks a fortune-telling fraud to influence his wife. This story was inpired by a dream, my cat Harold, Picton, my grandparent’s Airstream in Dwyer Hill, and my brother’s fondness for the name Jarls…Berg.

Reading “Summer Sublet”
At the launch, I’ll be reading a different story from my almost finished collection, Men and the Drink, alongside fellow contributors Ben Ladouceur and Andrew Battershill. Drop by for a copy of the new issue, a reading or three, drinks, dancing, and conversation.
Super Fans R & D & G

October Literary Links

Mental Floss. 11 Amazing Librarian Tattoos

Salon. How to write a bad review.

Canada Writes. Russell Smith vs. Lynn Coady: Let’s write about sex! No, let’s not!

the guardian. Short stories are far more than premises for ‘twists’

PRISM international. Social Media from an Author’s Point of View

the Atlantic Wire. The Imagined Lives of Punctuation Marks

The New York Times. The Trouble with Intentions

Slate. Cormac McCarthy Cuts to the Bone

Lindsay Buroker. Tips for Dealing with Bad Book Reviews

Huffington Post. Is the Editor Dead?

Short Story Titles

What’s in a title? A lot. It’s the first thing a reader, editor, or judge responds to. A good title piques interest and raises questions before the reader knows what your story is about. A bad title may turn someone off from reading further.

Of course, you can’t please everyone. Perhaps you’ve titled a story Brenda’s Biscuits. Not bad. Now imagine a reader who as a child was bullied by a girl named Brenda, whose grandfather died from choking on a biscuit, and who was scorned by a teacher for using excessive alliteration. An extreme example, but you get the picture.

A strong title may suggest an emotion or create a mood. It should not only sound good but also look good. If a reader likes your story and wants to recommend it, would they remember the title, or is it too long and obscure sounding? Originality is a bonus. Titles can’t be copyrighted, but if someone searches for your short story online, it would be a shame if there were four others titled the same.

Titles come to writers at different times. In my experience, the best titles appear early on when writing a short. I once changed a story’s title after each revision – twelve times! Some writers are okay to wait until a work is completely finished before naming a piece, but I prefer to have a working title, even if it is the wrong one.

If a suitable title eludes you, don’t wait for it to magically appear – ask other writers and mentors for suggestions. Objectivity can muddle up titling the same way it can revisions. You don’t want to sit on a fantastic piece of fiction just because you’re not convinced you have the best title. Submit your work, an editor may suggest something better.

On the flip side, don’t get too attached. I once thought up a great title early on in drafts. By the time the story was done, the title didn’t quite fit, but I kept it anyway because I thought it sounded cool. Just like characters, you sometimes need to kill titles or at least save them for different stories.

Good titles seem to come without much thought, but if you are struggling, consider these suggestions.

  • name of character
  • possessive and object/subject
  • name of setting
  • theme or symbol
  • conflicting moment or event
  • expression
  • line from story

Brenda’s Biscuits was an extreme example of how a title can turn a reader off. A more likely scenario: a reader picks up an anthology of short stories, yours included. They only have time to read one. The reader will skim over the table of contents and choose a story whose title intrigues them the most. Will it be yours?

Any tips or anecdotes about short story titles?

Dreams for Writing Inspiration

Dreams can be a wonderful tool for fiction writing because the creative mind continues to spin its magic beyond our waking hours. If friends roll their eyes when you begin a sentence with, “I had this dream…”, stop talking and start writing. What develops in our unconscious minds is unique and personal – characteristics of a good story.

Dreams can inspire at different stages of writing. You may write an entire piece of flash fiction or only use one aspect of a dream – a character, imagery, setting, or mood as a seed for a new story. Night visions can also help solve problems you’re having during revisions. Try reading your piece right before bed. The story may work itself into a dream and provide you with a solution.

Of course, you have to remember your dreams. Keep a notebook and pencil beside your bed. When you wake, write everything down right away. Once in this habit, you’ll find your dreams become clearer and that you remember more often. In the middle of the night, I reach for my cell phone (no need to turn on the light) and tweet basic themes.

Dreams are often fantastical and wouldn’t make sense translated directly to the page unless you write magical realism or science fiction. But similar to using real life experiences for inspiration, anything can be altered for the sake of story. A giant hairy monster chasing you can be written as a 6 feet tall stalker with hairy knuckles. That said, don’t forget the nightmares.

What is your connection between dreaming and writing?

Stephen King, an excerpt from Writers Dreaming
5 Famous Books Inspired by Dreams