This is the part where I express my profound appreciation to writer J. H. Moncrieff for being so on top of things. You see, I leapt up and joined a group (the IWSG you see in the title; more in a moment) — and dutifully marked on my calendar that I needed to have a post completed for First Wednesday — and then … didn’t.
But J. H. did! She actually has a truly useful post about getting your novel into bookstores (a dream of all writers, surely). And as I’m on her newsletter list, I saw the post. At which point I muttered an expletive (directed at myself, of course). But I have a freshly poured cup of coffee (touch of milk) in front of me, and the world before me (at least until I need to leave for the day job), so here we go …
The suggested topic for this month’s post is: What’s harder to come up with, book titles or character names?
Whew. Thankfully, this is an easy one to answer: book titles are harder, of course.
Character names float in from that mysterious place where all the other first draft debris comes from, the flotsam (and occasional jetsam) that populates the emerging story like the contents of an antiques shop off the high street in some small town in East Anglia. Generally, they’re acknowledged to be entirely functional without too much tinkering, hammering out of dents, and with just a bit of polishing.
An aside: I must admit to a strong dislike (perhaps even a loathing) for cute character names. The ones that scream at you, every time you come across them in the book, that this is a fabrication. Not real. Forced. There are exceptions, of course. Mostly genre-based. Fantasy and romance (akin to each other as they are in their mysterious way) — those characters’ names don’t disturb me. But anything in the suspense/mystery/thriller range — you want me obsessing on what the hell is going on, entirely immersed in the story, and not coming to a jarring halt every time Biff or Suzie “Snap” Wilson or the like make an appearance. (Note: I made those up. No disrespect to any author who’s published books with those character names. Well, maybe the “Biff”.)
Book titles, on the other hand, are a serious business. They are agonizingly difficult. How does one summarize and yet intrigue? Those book titles will be front and center and follow you around forever. They, with the book cover, comprise the First Impression you want to wow and hook prospective readers. A HEAVY LOAD TO CARRY.
Book titles are hard. And worthy of some posts all their own. Which I will calendar to write. I promise.
Until then, keep writing! And keep reading! It’s magic.
The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! #IWSG
Photo from jannesglas at @unsplash