Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here There Be Dragons... The Perils of the Untitled Work in Progress

Last night was a perfect night for writing... even if it was only for an hour. While my husband braved a torrential downpour to get me falafel, I took my new desk for a test drive. Turns out she goes from zero to 1K in 60 minutes. ;)

If I can just get myself to write 1K per day-- increasing my work flow on Saturdays-- I'll have my first draft pretty close to finished by November. That'll give it plenty of time to rest and breathe while I play around with Hans and Greta for a month. At least, that's the story I think I want to tell. It could be dark... very dark. And it's been a while since I wrote a male mc.

But first-- Mara's story still has no title. It's like the titling demons have wrestled the originality out of me. I keep coming up with these contrived or boring or trite sounding titles: Carnival of Illusions, The Spirit Room, Carmen's Ghost, Murder and Mara's Gift, Leaving Purgatory.

Bah! I'm embarrassed just admitting to those. I usually have a working title by the time I've gotten this far. It's strange, like steering a ship toward a nameless country. Here there be dragons. Yar.

Yes, I know that there's a good chance -- should my work be accepted by a publishing house-- that the final title decision will be out of my hands. But I can't help but think that a snappy title goes a long way toward attracing a literary agent. And that agent will have enough work ahead of them before my novel can even be submitted to editors. So shouldn't I do my damnedest (is "damnedest" a word?) to ensure I have a title that will stand out from the crowd, attract attention, and arouse the curiosity of agents, editors and potential readers, alike?


I know a title will come eventually, while I'm working on my NaNo project, perhaps, so I'm not making myself crazy over it. I just feel, I don't know, somewhat incomplete when I'm writing a story with no name.

It's just one more dragon in the sea of publication.

If anyone needs me, I'll be over here, hiding from the dragons. Maybe I can tempt them with something shiny so they won't eat me.


Susan R. Mills said...

I have to have a working title from page one. To me it's like naming a baby. And unlike a baby name, it's really easy to change later. Good luck coming up with one.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Saw your comment elsewhere and thought I'd stop by. I love I Capture the Castle and I'm also from Louisiana. Are you a part of SCBWI?

Tess said...

I used to think I had to have the title up front, but then I let it go and it turned out alright. One of my titles was actually part of a great line in the novel (see - couldn't have had that one at the start). My novel on submission gets mixed title reviews. You either love it or hate it - oh well, we'll see where it goes.

And, congrats on the progress. I like your idea of bit by bit day by day -- we will get there :)

Abby said...

Are you feeling the need to be perfect? ;) Don't push it. It'll come. You're a SUPER WRITER, remember?

Tere Kirkland said...

Susan, I feel the same way. I feel so lame referring to a novel in progress by the mc's name. Thanks for the luck, I'll take all that I can get.

Caroline, thanks for dropping by. I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite literary novels, even if it's no spring chicken anymore. No, I'm not a member, but I've been thinking about it. Looks good on a query, right? Not to mention the great resources available to members.

Tess, thanks for the great advice. I'm trying to let go, but it's so damn hard. Here's hoping I'll find my title in the narrative. Fingers crossed!

Abby, you've got me pegged. And you're right, it's so much harder when I push, and I get useless titles like the ones above. SUPER WRITER, yes, I still haven't gotten my cape embroidered yet, so I keep forgetting!

Jade said...

You have just said everything I feel about my WIP. It does have a working title (Charms) but I'm up to my third draft and still nothing. All my other stories had awesome (at least in my opinion) names very early on, but everything I come up with is blah.

I want a catchy name too, in an attempt to entice an agent, but I'm failing epically.

Good luck with the hunt.

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks, Jade. I like "Charms". One of the best working titles I ever had was "The Uneven Parallel Plane" about 4 gymnasts who wind up in a demonic dimension and have to fight the forces of evil to save the world from destruction. It was a real stroke of genius (or possibly just a real stroke) when I came up with that one.

I never thought that it might get published with that title, but I did think it would attract the attention of agents. I think it did, but the 130K word count probably had them balking... ;)

Lisa and Laura said...

We can relate. We SUCK at all things title. Seriously incapable of coming up with a proper title for a book. It's pathetic.

jessjordan said...

It normally takes me AGES to come up with a title for my work, and even then, I'm rarely happy with it. I end up saving them as "WIP" or "Book" or "Sisters" or something equally lame. i have tons of titles from street names and stuff that I'd love to use, but they're just not applicable to the story I'm writing. So into a "Title" folder they go ...

Your title will come to you. One day, out of the blue. Or maybe in a dream. Hey, if Steph can dream about sparkly vamps and turn that into a reality, anything can happen!

Tere Kirkland said...

L&L, at this point, I'd settle for an improper title for this book. ;)

Jess, I never thought of keeping a file of titles. That's a great idea. Thanks for the advice, and the laugh. Sparkly vampire dreams, rofl!