Saturday at Wiscon

On the way to Wiscon, as I was going through airports, there was a game being played on Twitter. It used the tag #lessinterestingbooks and it involved people suggesting book titles. Like the following:

Fatigue in the Afternoon
Jude the Obvious
The Reasonably Bearable Lightness of Being
The Moped Diaries
To Hurt a Mockingbird
Fried Eggs and Ham
Animal Farming
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce
For Whom the Bell Rings
The Welder in the Iron Mask
The Old Man and the Swimming Pool
The Maltese Sparrow
The Once and Future Shift Manager
The Pilgrim’s Impasse
A Tale of Two Suburbs
Ten Habits of Fairly Effective People
The Girl With the Temporary Tattoo
Gulliver’s Staycations
The Average Gatsby
Lord of the Files
Good Expectations
Peter Hamster

I thought this game was actually very interesting from a writing perspective. In the workshop I led on Friday morning, I commented that a couple of the proposed novel titles were not very interesting. And I wondered what makes for a powerful, interesting title. Of course, what the #lessinterestingbooks titles do is deliberately undercut the power of the originals. But there’s a lesson there.

In keeping with my theme for this Wiscon, which is not pushing myself too hard, I had a very easy day today. Lunch with Mary Rickert (during which I had my first bento box), then talking with various people. Tonight I will be at the Fairyland party (for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which by the way is a wonderful book title). It’s almost time to get ready, so I’ll leave you with one more lesson, if you’re a writer. The Fairyland trailer is the best book trailer I’ve ever seen. If only all of them were this good:

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2 Responses to Saturday at Wiscon

  1. Charles Tan says:

    With the titles, I think some of them are actually interesting–provided that the writer can execute and write them compellingly. The problem, I think, stems from the concept vs. technique argument, and people assume that in order to tell a good story, you need a good concept. The #lessinterestingbooks meme revolves around the idea of a bad concept (how interesting is the life of a Shift Manager?) but I think it can be salvaged provided the writer is skilled enough (apparently the life of a Shift Manager can really be interesting…). Of course whether it’s a title that’ll hook casual readers is a different matter altogether…

  2. That’s an interesting thought, Charles, that it really is the execution that matters. The Pilgrim’s Impasse could be just as interesting as The Pilgrim’s Progress, depending on what the impasse is. Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that . . .

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