Kamachi Kazuma’s 10 Year Structure (5/17)

Mar 19th, 2016
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  1. Let’s Decide on a Title
  3. Now I think I will explain each of the entries in the plot: title, theme, characters, setting/time period, terminology, and summary.
  4. First is the title.
  5. If you’re wondering why you would worry over a title before writing anything else, you can ignore this one. This is for the people who feel ‘You’ve gotta have a title even if it’s only tentative! How can you start without a title!?’ To be honest, I’m one of those people. …There’s no real logic behind it, but I feel like I only allot my work time and mental resources once I come up with a title. Even I find it strange, but I doubt I could write anything if I was just working on File 1 or Novel 2.
  7. What is needed in a title is not for the title itself to be interesting. It needs to make people think the contents of the novel will be interesting. Those sound similar, but they are actually completely different.
  8. On the other hand, if it’s something you have to read or try out to understand why it’s so good, you’re saying no one will ever understand why it’s good without reading it which means you will never get any new readers while the current readers gradually leave.
  9. The ideal is to have a title that even people who haven’t read it are familiar with and think is pretty well-known. After all, everyone wants their novel to be popular and for their series to last as long as possible.
  10. So instead of making something that only people in the know will enjoy, I think it’s important to make something that people will reach for even if they know nothing about it.
  11. And the first step there is the title.
  12. With that said, I’ll break down the conditions of what I think makes a good title:
  14. 1. Gives a general sense of what genre it is.
  15. 2. Doesn’t use any difficult words but lines up words in a somewhat hard-to-read way.
  16. 3. Has katakana in it somewhere.
  18. The first can be good or bad depending on the genre, but it might be best to think of it like a permanent marker. If you had no idea what thickness and color all the pens lined up on the store shelf were, you wouldn’t even know where to start. If you give the novel a title that gives a hint of the genre and type of story, it’s like indicating the ink color on the cap and numerically writing out the thickness on the side of the pen. That avoids the problem where someone wanted a red pen but got a yellow one.
  19. By adding in the genre, setting, world, and maybe even the heroine’s name, you can give off a sense of the information in the actual novel yet without giving any complete information. So instead of the title itself being interesting, you’ve made a title that makes the contents sound interesting.
  20. The second might be most evident in A Certain Magical Index and The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign. If the title is too easy to read, people might skim right past it. So to stop and hold the reader’s eye, you can make a portion of the title difficult to read. (On that front, Heavy Object’s title might actually be a little dangerous…) But if you make it too hard to read, they won’t be able to read it at all, so be careful.
  21. Using kanji is one way of doing that, but you might also be able to increase or decrease the length of the title beyond a certain point.
  22. By the way, when adding a special furigana to your title, the unwritten rule is to not put that furigana on the very first word. If you did that, it would be ambiguous where it went in aiueo order.
  23. For the third, I haven’t actually taken any statistics, but I have a feeling the Japanese really like foreign words in katakana. I wasn’t really trying to do it at the time, but looking back, almost all of my novels have them in the title.
  25. And it’s not as important, but you can write down the chapter titles.
  26. For these, I focus on making them look nice when lined up on the table of contents.
  27. For example, if you have four chapters, you could put the characters for the four cardinal directions in the titles. And if you have seven chapters, you could give each one the element corresponding to a day of the week.
  28. Unlike the novel title, chapter titles are not directly linked to popularity, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all if you don’t bother writing them here. …But in my case, I get more excited when I write the chapter titles in advance too.
  29. For reference, this is how I do the chapter titles for my novels:
  31. Chapter 1: I’d Even Take Help From a Cat – Cat_or_Dog_Fight.
  32. (A Certain Magical Index. Short Japanese text + Short English text. I try to keep the same number of characters in the Japanese part for each chapter.)
  34. Chapter 1: Is There a Girl in a Swimsuit Anywhere Around Here? >> Struggle in the Oceania District
  35. (Heavy Object. Short Japanese Text + Battlefield location)
  37. Chapter 1: The Grim Reaper is Coming@Jinnai Shinobu
  38. (The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village. Short Japanese text + POV character)
  40. (Stage 01 Open 04/01 00:00)
  41. Stage 01 Please Tell Me This is an April Fool’s Joke
  42. “Now, brother.”
  43. “Kill me if you can.”
  44. (The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign. Primarily a short Japanese text, but with the chapter’s starting time and some symbolic dialogue to draw you in.)
  46. I mostly just do it however I want, but I focus on matching my image of the series. With Heavy Object, I emphasize the location because the battlefield changes each time. With The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, I write out the POV character because the first person POV character changes each time.
  47. The most meaningful aspect of the table of contents is preparing people to read the main text more smoothly. Not only does it provide the page numbers, but I think it can be a useful place to write down some convenient preparatory information.
  48. One thing it can do is build up some expectation and excitement before they even start reading, so maybe it’s something like the opening act that warms up the audience for the main act during a live comedian performance.
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