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Jan's Master Class--TITLE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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GShuler
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Postby GShuler » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:25 am

glorybee wrote:Thanks, Laura--that's very gracious!

I feel like a fraud today--I just submitted my 'up and down' piece with the WORST. TITLE. EVER.


Thanks to your class, I have submitted the BEST title ever... but boy, did the story ever fall short!
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby dandelionflower » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:01 am

Thanks for these classes, Jan. They've been valuable, chocked full of wonderful writing gems. September seems far away, but if you could send me the file, I'll go over early threads. At least I'll know that I can't kill them! (I believe I may be a closet thread killer.)

I also love titles, adore them really. About half the time the topic brings a title or phrase to mind first, and then I build a story around it. Other times I hop on the wagon of agonization--which the red line is telling me is not a word. I think it should be.

The second story I entered at FW had one of my favorite titles.

A Purple Kind of Love

The story itself needs some work.

Only once have I REALLY wanted to use the topic for my title. It was the Countdown to Christmas week. I wrote a story chronicling the horrible events of 1968 that ended with the beautiful Christmas message from Apollo 8. "Countdown to Christmas" Would have been the best title. Instead I named it, "A Moment to Bind". I was not thrilled.

My favorite kinds of titles are those that provide the last puzzle piece to a story--without which one doesn't fully "get" it. The only time I've been able to do that is with, "A Place for Pamela"--though it's not my favorite story.

With this one I matched the MC's voice with the title perfectly and I was happy with the result:

You Think You Got Problems?

One title that was salsaee (again not a real word) was:

Mrs. Weaver Eliminates the "F" Word


One of my favorite published titles is, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
--it haunts me.

Again, Jan, thanks for everything. Enjoy retirement and babies and writing, and the summer.

See you in August at the conference:)

P.S. Hope I don't kill this thread.
Lisa Mikitarian
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Postby glorybee » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:21 am

Lisa, all of the titles you've mentioned are superb--I think I like the 'F' word one best for it's titilation and curiosity factor.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is a phrase taken from a poem called "sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. It's a moving poem that ends with this stanza:

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!


Very moving, and perhaps with a different meaning than many people attribute to it!

I'm drifting from the subject, but that book has a sentence in it that went far to awaken the writer in me when I first read it several years ago. Angelou writes about a time when, as a young girl, she and her brother got into a laughing fit at church. Later, she writes something like For days afterward, my brother and I stood at the edge of laughter's cliff, and any little thing threatened to send us over the edge.

Rats, I wish I had the exact quote, because it's so much better than that. It was a simple little sentence, insignificant in the long run to the rest of the book, but it stopped me cold and made me think dang, that's WRITING. I'd love to be able to do that.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Kristen Hester » Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:59 am

Jan, thanks so much for this topic. I can honestly say I think I've broken everyone one of your what-not-to-do suggestions. :hide Your information was REALLY helpful. I have to admit, I sometimes don't think about a title until I am submitting and the computer reminds me that I need one. :oops: That's not the best time to decide on a title.

Anywho, here are few of my favorite titles (You listed one of my titles in your article. Thrilling!)

One Snotty Nose Away from a Straight Jacket
I like this one because I just think it sounds funny. I hoped many moms could relate to the feeling!

Conversations in a Lifeboat
I liked this one because it sounded interesting to me and it would make me curious. I'd want to know why they were in a lifeboat and what did they talk about.

Sunk
This title had a double (or triple) meaning and it just fit. Plus, this is one of my favorite challenge entires.
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Postby glorybee » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:08 am

Kristen, thanks so much for your kindness and your contributions to the class.

I'd go read all of the titles you just cited--excellent job! Hope to see you around in the Challenge more often this quarter. You've been missed.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby lthomas » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:01 am

glorybee wrote:
I'm drifting from the subject, but that book has a sentence in it that went far to awaken the writer in me when I first read it several years ago. Angelou writes about a time when, as a young girl, she and her brother got into a laughing fit at church. Later, she writes something like For days afterward, my brother and I stood at the edge of laughter's cliff, and any little thing threatened to send us over the edge.

Rats, I wish I had the exact quote, because it's so much better than that. It was a simple little sentence, insignificant in the long run to the rest of the book, but it stopped me cold and made me think dang, that's WRITING. I'd love to be able to do that.


I think you did a wonderful job. And I so agree what her words can do to stir the writer in us!

I've learned a lot from these lessons as well. Looking back at some of mine, I'm a bit :oops: Oh well, time to move on.

Here's three that I think I did a fairly good job at capturing what I thought to be the essence of the story, while possibly intriguing the reader to read on:
Guilt and Misery, Divinely Yoked
Inseparable Vines
Before Breakfast

Thanks, Jan - but aren't you suppose to be on vacation!

Take care, Loren
"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." From "As You Like It." Wm. Shakespeare.

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Postby glorybee » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:15 am

Loren, I was just looking through your list of titles, and I just thought "that first one is an awesome title!" So I clicked it, and saw what I'd originally written--one of the best titles ever!

I'm thinking that you've had little, if any, reason to :oops: here at FW!

And yes, I'm on vacation...at home with my computer and my Diet Coke, getting a preview of retirement!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby dandelionflower » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:08 pm

The small "inconsequential" phrases get me, too. I read the book so long ago, I'm feeling it's time to pick it up again. Right after I finish Thin Blue Smoke--which I'm zipping through. It also has thoughtful passages.
Lisa Mikitarian
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By perseverance the snail reached the ark.
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Postby anna banana » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:44 pm

I must say after folllowing this class this week, it sure was an agonizing decision trying to find the title of my current entry. :D I think I finally got a good one, though. :D
In order to clarify: Rachel Rudd

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Postby beff » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:21 pm

I tend to use the "play-on-words" titles.

Go to the Ant, Thou Slug I like using Bible Phrases as titles. (This is okay as long at it doesn't contain part of the topic, right?)

The Iceboxing Match was a mini-challenge, a rare non-poetry entry. :)

Serengeti Subterfuge Beside alliteration, perhaps there are two salsa words in that title.

I am among those that frequently have a title before I even start to write.

Thank you, Jan, for your Master Class. I wasn't able to participate each week, but I did audit each class. :) Have a great summer!
Last edited by beff on Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby South-paw-Scribbler » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:08 am

Homework: Give us your 3 favorite challenge titles, and tell why you like them. OR mention 3 book titles that you really like. OR tell us how you choose your titles, or what you try to avoid. OR just respond to something in this lesson.


Ugh! I've missed so many, and now class is done 'til September. I'd love to get those lessons Jan. I have all the ones you sent when the system fried in January, so I need the ones since then.

Anyway here are my favorite titles (although they are written by others here.)
REAL Man Christmas Dinner by Rick Higginson (the reference to REAL Men caught my eye and I laughed the entire read.)

Sniggles by Jan Ackerson (and not just because you are the teacher or it's plastered on the challenge page :wink: ) the title caught my eye. I thought it was an error in spelling then went to read it. It was hilariously fun.

Maple Syrup Sermon by Debbie Roome (This was the first one I read in masters because I wanted to know what a Maple Syrup Sermon was. Turns out it was excellent reading and placed very high that week.)

_________________________

As far as choosing my titles: I have been attempting to keep them short and punchy, like Gone Underground in the Canada challenge orSlava in the Asia week. It does seem, I've noticed, that with the "salsa" titles I do tend to attract more readers. My Europe entry White Rose drew in a reader because of the title. She said it caught her eye because she learned of this in her study of Germany at college. The piece could have used a lot of refining though.

I guess after looking back over all my titles, I try to title it with the topic of my entry, hoping not to give away what the end will be.
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Postby glorybee » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:29 am

Thanks for the shoutout to "Sniggles", Karlene!

I like your titles very much, too--especially "Gone Underground". It's got an appealing element of intrigue to it.

Classes are on their way...
Jan Ackerson

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Postby PureJoy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:14 pm

I've had titles on the brain this week--after Jan's class. I keep a list of books I've read. I see some salsa words. I see some titles that were just strange enough to make me wonder what the book was about.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (just finished this one)

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

The Candy Bombers (about the Berlin airlift)

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Thr3e

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Waiting for Snow in Havana

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

and one that still makes me laugh the laugh of the sleep deprived mother...the title of the "get your baby to sleep CD" that I still use with my kids Jesus Loves Me Fast Asleep (and so does mommy, yes indeed)
~Karen~

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Postby glorybee » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:17 pm

Great titles all, Karen--and did you love "The Guernsey Literary Society..."? It's near the top of my list, for sure--I adored it!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby PureJoy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:27 pm

glorybee wrote:Great titles all, Karen--and did you love "The Guernsey Literary Society..."? It's near the top of my list, for sure--I adored it!


Could not put it down. Not the usual type of book I like to unwind with (no spies, mysterious deaths to solve). She had a good hook and it was amazing what she could do with the different voices in the letters.

I requested that from the library solely based on the title. My boys don't let me browse the stacks so I generally have to judge a book by its cover.

Now I'm requesting potty training DVDs Go Potty Go!. That's what we want.
~Karen~

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