Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wording--Intent and Purpose

Any word creates communication. Most words hold multiple meanings and connotations, especially in the context of the words mixed with it. This makes word choice essential in presenting purpose. The understanding of every communication depends on this, and it works.
Visual communication includes more than words. Appearance, body language, topic, tone of voice, facial expressions, and specific words used all play a part. Tone, delivery speed, and loudness assist with audio communication. Real time conversations are often off the cuff. Due to this, even with expressions and tones, spur of the moment wording frequently creates misunderstanding.
When only words are used, the choice of words must make up for all that is missing in other forms of communication. Depending on genre and intent, editing of recorded communications of any type can correct or distort words. All writers use this inherent quality of words to load them with intent. Factual writers most often work to avoid such ambiguity, but storytellers develop it to exploit character and meaning. In turn, the readers interpret meaning according to their understanding of the words. In fiction, this can change the reader’s perception of characters and their actions.
For instance, Dr. Bob (one of the writers listed below) gave this example for this blog topic: She had to be the sexiest-looking 42-year-old on the planet, the best that money could buy.
Is this loaded language? Yes. Is it good or bad? Actually, neither and both; it depends on the writer’s purpose, which depends on who makes this observation within the story, and the writer’s intent for the character so described. The ultimate interpretation depends on the reader, their empathy and perception of the words’ purpose.
Every story is just a compilation of words used to expose character and situation, yet every reader’s personal experiences and imagination respond to the framework of the words used. Based on both the author’s word choices and the reader’s interaction with those words, their acumen, biases, perceptions, and sympathies give either understanding or confusion. Furthermore, a writer might use a word’s meaning to clarify, or even to lead the reader astray, with the intent for an emotional effect that increases the readers' interest. Luckily, whether the author uses commonplace or unusual wording, or desires to clarify or introduce uncertainty, the language lets the author play within the reader’s mind. The words build a sense of place and reality, allowing each reader to understand a character or situation, which grows the story’s purpose.

Wording is important. Yet I have to admit, in my fiction writing, I sometimes use ambiguous wording to encourage the reader involvement. As a reader, I have found this a very useful technique either to cement a character's qualities or to mislead the reader temporarily for a better understanding later; however, authors need awareness of their wording choices without overdoing it.

Check out these blogs for more insight on word choices:

Skye Taylor
Marci Baun 
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich 
Rachael Kosinski
Judith Copek
Helena Fairfax
A.J. Maguire 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How Important Are Titles?

Because titles and cover images are what readers see first, they are the agents that attract readers. I think the two work together instantaneously on a reader’s perception, so I imagine most authors spend time considering a title. This can be a futile effort, for a publisher might change it to fit a particular line or sub-genre in which they want to publish the story. This shows titles are tied to sales. Still, it gives the author some control for attracting an audience.

Titles (along with the cover image) give the reader an indication of the genre, mood and theme, era, and possible story line of the novel. They certainly attract my attention when I am selecting books. I have fairly specific genres I read, and while they vary greatly, the titles are what make me stop and read the blurbs.

My book titles tend to be very short, three words or less. I’m satisfied with them. For me, longer titles tend to indicate quirky story lines aimed at children, chic lit, or humor.

Titles for my stories often come during the writing process as an indication of the main character or the plot’s purpose, popping into my mind. The longer they stay there, the stronger they become—I think that might be good but not necessarily well thought out. I expect other authors do the same.

The Balance website says in an article, “Can a Book Title be Copyrighted?” that titles cannot be copyrighted. According to the August 2016 article’s author, Jean Murray, “The U. S. Copyright Office does not typically allow someone to copyright a book title because titles are not considered intellectual property, but are only 'short slogans,' which are not eligible to be copyrighted.” The writing itself is copyrighted from the moment you write the words. Greater protection comes with filing it with the copyright office. However, I wouldn’t think anyone could get away with using any Harry Potter title other than J. K. Rowling. Some titles are too well known to be used again, and some like Harry Potter, can be copyrighted or even trademarked due to the fact they are tied to other products such as movies and toys.

Then there are the generic type tiles my books hold. Nope, can’t be protected, and I cannot be held liable for infringing on another writer’s identical title. The interesting thing I discovered was I could trademark my name. Do I really want that
© after my name? Right now it kind of makes me uncomfortable.

Writing this post has given me some pause because perhaps I should pay more attention to the title and spend more time thinking about the proposed title after the initial concept. I’m not sure I would, for once my mind is tied to a title, I tend to be obstinate.

Check these sites to see what other authors have to say on this topic: