Timesink, trustworthy advice, and terminology

Let me begin with a warning: beware the timesink that is the PC game Terraria. I just can’t stop exploring those randomly generated worlds. Multiplayer with my friends only makes the addiction worse. That’s the main reason I’ve neglected to write here. I know all my readers out there missed me.

Wait, does anyone else hear crickets?

Anyway, I have two things to talk about, and neither one will take very much wordage, so I’m combining them into one post. Here we go.

1. I read a post by Nayad Monroe about five things she’s learned from reading slush. Not a whole lot I can add except that it has good advice and it gave me some things to keep in mind when I’m writing. So, go read it if you’re a writer trying to get published. Thank you, Nayad.

2. An ongoing project of mine is increasing my vocabulary. Obviously, a wide choice of words is ideal for a writer. I’ve discovered two useful online tools to help me. Dictionary.com lets you create a virtual deck of flashcards. I’ve made one with my list of recent words of the day, and it’s really working out for me so far. Another good site for learning words is Vocabulary.com. It’s very “smart” — it quizzes you on definitions and keeps track of the words you need to review, then brings them up in a later round. Plus, achievements! What gamer can resist achievements?

And now, I think I’ll go read a bit before bed. I have an early morning at work tomorrow.

Advertisements

Untitled (as in “the title of this post is “Untitled,” not “this post has no title,” see?)

http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/07/entitlement-part-i.html

http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/07/entitlement-part-ii.html

These two posts got me thinking about titles. I’ve never felt confident in my titling abilities, truth be told. Mine seem to lack kick. My one published story went through four or five different titles between its many drafts, and one of those was a request from the editor. I ended up with the best title I’d imagined for the story, but was it the best it deserved?

I haven’t considered how important a title really is. When I’m skimming over stories, trying to decide what to read, I know I pass over something that doesn’t catch my attention. Short stories have no other way to introduce themselves — the title is their handshake. Some might get a blurb, too, but you can’t rely on that.

So, I resolve to be more thoughtful about titles from now on. You just watch me.

One last thing: the second post refers to titles that existed before the actual stories. I love this. It never happened to me — I’ve always come up with the story idea first — but it is something¬† I want to try. It reminds me of one of my brainstorming methods: I take a few random words and see how they bang together in my head, like elements creating a chemical reaction. Definitely need to give it a try.