Use this website to find homophones that could be used for catchy titles that involve word play. For example:
Ball and Bawl (Cinderella’s Bawl)
I and eye
Ate and eight
Pain and pane (The Window’s Pain)
Go through the list of homophones and write down an entire list of some that could be possibilities.
What other titles could you come up with?
More Word Play
For more wordplay titles try thinking of fairy tale or familiar phrases.
Then change one of the words in the title or phrase that sounds the same.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Goldilocks and the Three Chairs
Goldilocks and the Three Hairs (Haha..did she lose all her golden locks?)
Goldilocks and the Three Hares
Goldilocks and the Three Bewares
More Fairy Tale Remakes
We know if we write these, they have to be truly original with a fresh take or spin and not simply a retelling of the same story. So consider what could make it different.
Character- Giving the character a different want.
Instead of Cinderella wanting the prince and the ball, maybe she wants to be a rock star instead.
Or instead of Cinderella being a girl, how would it change if she were a boy? Or a goat? Or a dinosaur? Or a pirate?
Setting- What would Goldilocks and the Three Bears be like if it were set in NYC?
What else could you change about the fairy tale to make it original?
Brainstorm a list of 50 things that interest you. However make sure the things are concrete and not abstract. For example (daisy, salamander, sunshine, shadows, pink nail polish, glazed donuts). This exercise is to get you thinking concretely. But also to see what it is that you like. And one thing might spark an idea for a story or character. Try putting several of them together and see where it takes you.
Brainstorm a list of 10 first lines. They don’t have to have a story and they don’t have to make sense. Just close your eyes and write. By freeing yourself from the obligation or commitment of figuring out an entire story you are free to discover anything.
Here are a few examples: (Although they may not all be picture book worthy.)
Random Word Collecting
Open up a dictionary and just for fun write down words that you find concrete or fun or interesting. This may not lead you anywhere, but then again you never know.
Word Web or Focused Word Collecting
This is actually one of my favorite things to do. If I know I want to write a story about, let’s say Monsters, but I really have no idea what the story is…I will start by word webbing (or word collecting) by using a thesaurus. So I would start writing down as many words as I could think of that are related to the monster: (It’s best to use all parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives etc…)
And then, I would take my thesaurus and start looking up those words.
Monster – Huge, Giant, Monstrous, Gigantic, Ogre, Beast, Brute, Freak
Scary- frightening, creepy, chilling, terrifying
Ugly- horrible, unpleasant, dreadful, horrid
Wart- lump, growth, mole
Hairy- bushy, bearded, furry
Roar- rumble, thunder, crash, snarl, boom, growl, grumble
Then continue looking up synonyms to the synonyms.
This is a great exercise for adults but also for students. It gets them thinking about words that they could use in their writing that they may have never thought of. And it also exposes them to lots of vocabulary in a very authentic way.
Digging Up Dialogue
It’s great to collect snatches of dialogue you hear, especially from children. But you may not have the opportunity to be around children. If you are, I would sit and simply write down anything funny or creative or off the wall they say. Sit and listen to them and just write.
But if you can’t, what can you do? You could watch kids cartoons and randomly write down funny lines you hear. This may spark an idea for a character.
Or- go to pinterest like I talked about before and go to some of the inspirational character boards.
For each one, just think of one line of dialogue for each character you see. Think: what would this character being saying now? What would they say in school? In a grocery store? In a toy store? At recess? Etc…
Most of the exercises on this page were borrowed from this website:
There are many more to check out. It’s well worth it.
Which ones do you think you will try out this week?
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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