Sunday, March 25, 2012

Influenced By Reading Same Genre?

Is it a good idea to read books similar to the one you're writing?  I've heard this argued from both sides.  The obvious reason to abstain is the possibility, either conscious or unconscious, of being influenced by the book already in print.

The current mystery I'm writing is set in Amsterdam and although I've lived in Holland, I've forgotten a lot of details about the city.  So, in addition to ordering a couple travel DVD's about the city, I, also, ordered a mystery set in Amsterdam.  The plot and characters were totally different from mine but I found it quite motivational.  Well-written and fast-paced, it made me eager to move on with my own story and get it finished.

What experiences have you had with reading the same genre you're writing?  Does it influence your writing?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Titling Your Novel

I just finished re-titling a romantic mystery at a publisher's request as well as coming up with a title for the romantic suspense I'm writing now.  Having gone through the titling process several times before this, I'm sharing some ideas I've discovered to make it simpler and fun. 

My romantic suspense novel is set in Amsterdam and I wanted Amsterdam in the title to attract agents, editors, and readers who look for international settings.  The first titles that came to my mind were Murder in Amsterdam and Death in Amsterdam.  Way too generic and probably already taken but a starting place.

Although my purpose wasn't to steal a title from another writer, I went to and typed in Amsterdam and mystery. Screens of books came up and I jotted down a number of titles I liked and found interesting.  Most of the mysteries involved experienced male police investigators, nothing like my young female amateur sleuth.  It didn't matter that the characters and plots were totally different from mine.  Reading the variety of titles was stimulating and inspirational, plus I wanted to steer clear of any titles that were currently on the market.  As I guessed, Murder in Amsterdam and Death in Amsterdam were already out there!

I wanted a title that was original, catchy, and unique to my plot.  To my list of words to include in the title besides Amsterdam, I added other words as they came to me.  I looked at the list from time to time, deleting words and adding new ones.

Pretty soon I put some of those words together and came up with the perfect title that fits my romantic suspense set in Amsterdam.