Would Any Other Name Really Smell As Sweet? #titles #writers


Good ol’ Billy Shakespeare lamented, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Yeah, Billy Boy, I have to disagree. Names are important, like REALLY important when you’re a writer. Even more so, when you’re about to name your prodigy in printed form.

Writers will generally agree on some of their most dispised aspects of story crafting:

The synopsis

The blurb

The 25 word tag (or 125 or anything less than the 300+ pages they’ve already written)

The outline

But coming up with that perfect title? Does it just arrive in a chorus of angelic “ahhhs” surrounded by a soft, beautiful light so blinding in its brillance?

Can’t speak for the rest of you out there, but for me–I so wish.

Only once did a title come before I started a book, Shadow’s Soul. Not sure why, it just snapped into place. The rest? Yeah, they haven’t come quietly.

I’m in the midst of PSY-IV book 2 which follows Tag and Risia. I’ve known they’d be the second story since the first time Cyn snickered at Tag about his reaction to Risia in HUNTED BY THE PAST, but its title? Well, I think it was touring the rain forests of Borneo.

Titles are important. You don’t want it to get lost among all the others. You want it to stand out and lure innocent readers into exploring its pages. You don’t want to get confused with another story with the same name. If its part of a series, there’s a naming convention to follow so the series is easily recognizable. And you have to ensure it’s attraction level stays high without boring-so no long worded titles, you have, what? .3 seconds to snag a reader? If you’re title’s too long, you’ve lost them and they’re moving to the next book on the shelf.

So many things go into such a small part of your story. It can make a writer cry.

I’m not sure what other writers do in this situation but I will sit down and try to juggle one word descriptors about the main story concepts like I’m trying to crack a safe. I make lists of possibly titles, let it stew, go out and see how many hits each combination will pull up in bookstores. That list will grow, get abused and battered, and simmer for weeks. Then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the title will finally step forward (probably because the others, tired of being punished for its reticence have pushed it forward). And, viola, I have a title.

I’ve been down this road many times, so PSY-IV book 2’s title has been simmering for months…like before I sent HUNTED BY THE PAST off for edits. And just recently it finally clicked–the key concepts of the story, the naming convention for the series, into a title. And because I’ve survived another bout with titling, I give you the second installment of the PSY-IV Teams: Touched By Fate.

Posted in Writing, Writing Tips and tagged .

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