Most of my picture book ideas have come from my own children. Unfortunately, they are getting older so I am a little short on material lately. I can no longer rely on them to say things like “Mommy, come quick, Josh is in the oven!” or “Today my class is going to a burrito farm!” (Best I can tell, that was a trip to an arboretum?)
Now that eavesdropping isn’t effective anymore, I need other strategies for generating ideas. One method I frequently employ is titlestorming. I sit down with my writing partner, Becky Gomez, and we try to come up with a list of fun titles.
I am a very language-driven writer (as opposed to plot or character-driven) so very often these titles incorporate wordplay.
There are all sorts of ways to play with words.
One option is to create a new word by combining two existing words. Tara, the queen of wordplay, did this with her debut title THE MONSTORE. Other fun fusions include ORANGUTANGLED by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, THE HICCUPOTAMUS.by Aaron Zenz, and MOOSETACHE by Margie Palatini.
Another way is to replace a word with its homonym. In 2009, I came up with the idea TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS. But I didn’t move quickly enough. Sudipta beat me to it. Other examples of this include Keith Baker’s LMNO PEAS and Tara’s upcoming 7 ATE 9.
Go for the Rhyme
This, of course, is my favorite technique. In 2010, I came up with GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS and TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE. But it also works with stories that are not fractured fairy tales. Here are just a few that come to mind:
- MICE SKATING
- TRUCK, TRUCK, MOOSE.
- LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD
- MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM
- THE PLOT CHICKENS
Get Crazy Creative
Then there are all sorts of crazy ways to get creative that defy categorization. Invent words. Experiment with spellings. Play with pronunciations. Take a figure of speech and make it literal.
So, give those titles a twist. Let the syllables slip, slap, slide off your tongue and see what sort of fun comes out.
Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of several rhyming picture books and fractured fairy tales., HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, in which two chicken sisters defeat a fox and rescue their parents, is the latest of her punny titles. Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick-butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ.
Corey is giving away a signed copy of HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS.
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