Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Casting About for a Title

Photo: Prawny via Pixabay
If creating a character is my favorite part of a writing project, coming up with a title is my least favorite.

Creating a character is a process that's expansive and full of promise. People on the page can be anyone I want them to be: someone just like me or my polar opposite. Young, old, short, tall, professional, down-to-earth, obnoxious, kind, male female.

Or all of the above, because few stories contain just one character.

A good title is just the opposite. In just a few words, it encapsulates everything the work -- whether blog post, article, novel or something altogether different -- has to offer. It's a teaser, a grabber, or, dare I say, "click bait," designed to bring the reader into the piece.

No pressure there.

I don't spend a lot of time on blog post titles. In fact, when I first started blogging, I didn't title my posts at all. Then I read about the importance of the title, so I grudgingly succumbed. In that same spirit, I should work a little harder at finding the "just right" title for each of my posts, but this is one place where I abandon perfectionism and settle for "good enough," hoping that the law of averages is in my favor, since I write four or more posts each week.

I'm a little pickier about creating titles for my magazine pieces, but here I'm content with "good enough" because I know an editor has the right to change anything I come up with. When I'm getting paid for a piece, I give the title my best shot, but I also don't obsess over it because creating a title I love makes it that much harder to accept a change if the editor has something else in mind.

And then there are books. Currently, I'm contemplating the title of my next Marita/Angel/Charli novel and that is much, much harder. Casting the First Stone came to me immediately, but coming up with Chasing a Second Chance was a much more laborious process, consisting of multiple lists and also-rans, with numerous contenders rejected along the way.

For this third (and possibly last) one, I've come up with a title I love -- two, in fact -- but one doesn't fit the pattern, and I'm told that's a bad idea. The other is fun, but doesn't meet my goal of encapsulating the themes and journeys of the characters in the book.

So, I'll keep writing. If you have an idea (especially if you've read the first two books and know the players), I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, I'll continue to look for not just the magical combination of characters that makes the story tick, but also the magical combination of words that sums up their antics.

Who knows? Maybe one of my characters will help me out.

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