Daily Archives: April 5, 2017

Finding a title

Titles are very important. More than the cover. More than the author photo on the back. Maybe even the blurb. I have written at least one post about the power of names. Titles are just names.

I have a special project going at the moment. It’s close to my heart and it’s proving to be difficult to write. Because of this difficulty I have begun to look for titles to help me find the ESSENCE of the story. I find titles usually come easily to me but this one seems to be fighting.

At first I thought that DONOR might be a good fit. I don’t want to give away too much but I think it only fits one of the characters. There are four central characters and each of them needs to be represented. Think of it as a contest, but three out of four characters don’t know it yet. One of them is going to win but because they don’t know they are competing, that victory doesn’t mean much.

Thinking about it like that, you could say that it is like the whole “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” thing. So I need a title that encapsulates the unknowingly guided journey of three protagonists and the guide they don’t know they have. See why I’m having trouble? I have a feeling that the english language might be working against me. It has limitations. I reached out to the community on Ninja Writers (Facebook), which has helped me a lot in the past. They suggested some of the following words:

  • Serendipitous (suggested by Amy Watson)
  • Absent-minded fortuity (suggested by Mark Brothwell)
  • Unexpected windfall (suggested by Lucinda Benson)
  • Accidental accomplishment (suggested by Kevin Andersen)
  • Deceptive prize (suggested by Carolyn Pullman)

All of these are great options. I feel like English, as a language, just is too ‘composite’ in nature to contain a word that fully surmises what I want to say. German has a lot of wonderful words; beautiful words with intricate meanings and so much depth that it makes me feel sad that english could be so limited. Maybe I’m just not as broad minded when it comes to the language but having studied Indonesian I have an appreciation for nuance.

There are multiple words, in Indonesian, that mean ‘please’. There are different words for different situations; ‘please’ in the context of asking for help. ‘Please’ in the context of requesting the person you are speaking to help themselves. These nuances are lost on our poor coarse composite language.

Not that I don’t love english as a language. Don’t get me wrong, it can create the most beautiful poetry. Like spiralling dancing sparkling light on the page. But that respect and love I have doesn’t make it any easier to find a title. I want this so badly. I feel like when I get this title, the rest of the story might just settle into place. I’m not used to having this much trouble settling the story. I mean writing it down, sure. The first page or two always take a lot of false starts. But this story is refusing to sit still and let me study it. It’s wriggling like the wyrm it is, writhing and hissing and spitting and refusing to let me know it fully.