And not a word written?
I spend far more time on the NaNoWriMo forums than I really should. I love them. I love the horror stories and the stories of triumph. I get drawn into discussions of NaNoisms and the threads all about what Non-NaNoers think about WriMos. I try to commiserate with the people who didn’t back up their work. I feel good when I can offer some snippet of advice or assistance or encouragement to some struggling writer.
The forums are one of my favorite forms of not writing. Ok, I’ll say it. Procrastination!
The threads that just boggle my mind come in a few forms. Most of those have to do with titles, character names, place names and covers. It completely flabbergasts me that people will completely freak out and stall trying to come up with that perfect title for their novel before the novel is even written.
Now, of course, every novel needs a title. That title differentiates it from everything else that is in your notebooks, computer files, and memory. It’s a mental reference point that lets you say “oh, that one!” All of my work has titles that are unique to that piece.
I have: Go, Little Novelist, Go; Finger Vomit; Imma Short Story; and Insert Witty Title Here.
They are clever, they are unique to each peice, they let me know which story is which. Alright, maybe they aren’t so clever. Actually, they aren’t clever at all. Maybe Finger Vomit is, since the story has nothing to do with fingers or vomit, but instead references my favorite description of writing a first draft.
And thus shall vomit spew forth from my fingertips so that I might edit the craptastical crap into less crappy form.
And thus a novel title was born. Whatever.
Working titles are just that: working titles. They serve one purpose and that is to differentiate one work in progress from another. I could just as easily have labeled them Novel One and Novel Two, but those don’t make me smile.
The same is true about character names. A character must have a name to differentiate them from the rest of your characters, but why spend days agonizing over the name before the story has even been written? Why use a name like Xenadrene Manifestus Grabolia III anyway? Jane worked just fine for Nicole Peeler.
I need to write my character’s story before they tell me their name. In the meantime, they get a working name, just like the book itself. My female main character always starts as Sue. Yes, that Sue. It took me 60 thousand words to name Ari Faith and Erik Stone. It took multiple name changes and trying various names on for size before I found the ones that fit them.
Now, before everyone starts leaving me nasty comments, I do realize that everyone must work in the process that fits them. I’m an advocate of that. I just don’t understand stressing yourself to writer’s block on details that can and, most likely, will be changed at a later date.
My final rant is on covers. Why? Why make a working cover at all? Why spend all that time finding the ‘perfect’ title, the epic names and then, of all things, make a mock up of the very last thing that should be on your mind while writing? That is just like frosting a cake while it’s nothing but eggs, milk and flour.
Why are so many writers so hung up on the finishing details when they should be working on the blood and bones first? I have never found an answer to that. I want to build my house before I hang the drapes. Drapes look silly without a window to frame.