I hate naming stuff. Anytime I write a blogpost I have to ask Paula for advice on the title. There’s a lot of expectation put on a title. It’s supposed to describe and attract, but using only a handful of words. Sometimes, just a single word. And to make it more complicated, one wants to exhibit a touch of class by avoiding ‘clickbait’ titles. That’s a lot of pressure.
As I write this I am still unsure what the title of my novel is going to be. It’s a science-fiction story set about 10 millennia into the future. So, do I call it ‘Ten Thousand Years’ or some variation on that? It has aliens. Do I call it, ‘First Contact’ and pretend I don’t know there’s a Star Trek film of that name?
Why am I even stressing about this? Because naming your novel is the single most important thing you’ll ever do. That you can change that title ten times a day, every day, until it’s actually published is irrelevant. The more you focus on the title the less time you have to worry about writing the damn thing. I get to spend hours wondering about something that will be one to four words in length. That is so much more manageable than 60 to 80 thousand words.
So yes, it is a colossal waste of time. My most successful story to date was called ‘The Bucket.’ The Bucket! I still cringe when I say it but I don’t think there can be a better title for that story. It’s just so prosaic. I know that whatever I call my new story today, is not what I need to call it tomorrow, but naming it does have a function.
When I began this project, I created a new folder on my laptop. I called it, ‘Writing Project.’ That does not draw the eye. It does not inspire. It will not excite. A name, a title, gives the novel a life. A separate (even if wholly dependent) existence. It’s a form of anthropomorphism. I’m visiting with this entity, feeding and molding it into the finished being it was always meant to be. When the really hard work begins, it is this degree of separation and obligation that will hopefully inspire me to continue.
And again, that doesn’t mean I won’t change the title in a heartbeat if I think of something better. But the separateness continues.
So, for today and possibly all this week, my work in progress is called, ‘In Ten Thousand Years.’ I will now change the name of the folder and begin to think of this being called, In Ten Thousand Years. It’s a bold title. Well, it’s longer than my usual. I’ve rarely gone beyond two words. You can imagine the misgivings I’m already trying to quell.
Next week I’ll write about the characters. Or more accurately, write about writing about the characters. There are really only two in this story so that shouldn’t be too difficult.