Just another wannabe author…

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.

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Comments on: "Titles, Titles Everywhere!" (9)

  1. I usually just name my work-in-progress novels after the main character or love interest. The book I’m currently self-publishing, for example, started off as “Varrin”, after the love interest. Then it became “Space Chattel”, then “The Reluctant Xenophile”, then “Canopy Glow”, then “Starlit Eyes”, and then “Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight into It”. I’m still not even sure I like the last title the best, but that’s what we ended up with.

    I think some people like to do the title, cover, etc. first because they like tangible proof that their novel is real. As in, without the title/cover, it’s just a collection of words on a page. But once you have the title/cover, it’s a real story. It might not be written yet, but it’s officially a work in progress, and then they feel obligated to finish it.

    • Shira Windschitl said:

      It just seems to backwards to name it before word one has been written. It happens, all the time. I see people stressing over a title and/or cover when it’s still nothing more than an idea. For me, just like my characters, the novel names itself either while it’s being written or when it’s done. If it doesn’t, I’ll stress about it after it’s reworked. The cover is the icing on the cake saved for when it’s real.

  2. I tend to write my titles as code names. Like my current nano project is called CM3. CM is the series working code title. 3 is the number book of the series I’m on. Woohoo! Easy. Usually they’re named after a plot point. I have a story called “Alienthing” so I know it’s about aliens if I look at it again. I have “Epicfantasything” so I know it’s an epic fantasy. I usually get my fancy official title as I’m writing.

    As for character names, I usually have a first name before I begin. Last names come later usually. For whatever reason, names are the first thing the character tells me about themselves. But I have done random name changes halfway through when I’m writing too.

    Your style sounds cool in that I like that you focus your time on the story more than anything else. I get frustrated by people who do try to think up all of this crazy stuff and then they freak out half way through it when their story starts to change from what they planned. Writing is generally organic. I get that there are plotters and pantsers and all that. I just also notice that pantsers are a lot less stressed out about writing than the plotters are, lol. Oh, and I don’t get the crazy flowery insanely difficult to pronounce names either. That’s always a gripe of mine. Why does the name have to “unique”? The character can be unique without a special snowflake kind of name, lol.

    As for creating covers…I only do it when I’m really bored. Like…really bored…and trying to decide where I’m going next. But my covers usually suck anyway. that’s why I have a cover artist for the finished product. So much easier, lol.

    • Shira Windschitl said:

      I love the term ‘organic’ when it comes to writing. It implies that it’s a living growing thing instead of cold words on paper, which is exactly how I feel about my writing. I might be the writer, but the story is in charge.

      And I’m very in love with “Alienthing” for a title. Brilliant. =D

  3. I know I like to have a decent working title before I start. I do this so that I have, before I even begin, an encompassing idea of what I’m working toward. The title before I begin is a working title, to be sure. I’ve changed titles after I’m finished. But for me, the title is like the springboard for the rest.

    I’m not a cover maker, but I think people do it so that they have a visual representation of that same thing, of the idea. But also perhaps get a feel for the mood and the genre and so on.

    As far as why some people do it obsessively, maybe they’re attracted to the trappings of writing, the accessories, as well as the writing itself.

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