Monday, August 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

It's Monday! Time for some True Confessions: I stink at titles.

I'm also not so great at naming characters either, but that's a different post. I was able to name my two daughters, but that's where my naming abilities took a powder. I didn't even name the cat.

Some of you guys, however, are just the opposite. You pop out creative, snappy titles... just like that!

I'd share one a bloggy friend off-handedly told me over the weekend, but I don't know if she's keeping it a secret for now. But it's fantastic. I want to steal it and write my own book around it!

A writer-friend from way back who lived in New York and worked with Hollywood types told me how he'd written a screenplay about a pedophile stalking a kid using the Internet.

It was a thriller in which the villain set up a fake email account and was slowly closing in on his victim. The title? You've Got Mail. And he envisioned that old voice-greeting becoming the sound of intense, paralyzing, scream-smothering fear... 

He later sold it to Warner Bros. for something like $20,000 so they could use it for a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan joint. Isn't that fun?

The point: Titles matter.

Some of you are so good, you even title all your chapters! That thought makes me shudder.

Remember the game about finding your stripper name? Take the name of your childhood pet and combine it with the street you grew up on...

Mine's Rusty Amerest.

And that's about how I feel about titles--Rusty.

Last year, when I was shopping my YA romcom, I can't tell you how many times I was told, "You should fix that title. It sounds paranormal."

What was it? Shadow Falls. (It was the town where the story occurred!)

I started going through titles of very popular books or stories. Romeo & Juliet is just the name of the two main characters. And Twilight? It's just a time of day. Even Carrie. Again, main character's name. Harry Potter?

OK, "The Deathly Hallows" is pretty good. Even "The Order of the Phoenix." But hey--those are just places in the story. (Like Shadow Falls!)

Can anybody help a sistah out? Any title games you play or exercises to get you in a titular kind of mood? Spill! I'm in need of assistance.

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! Til Thursday~ <3




26 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

What I do is find a line in the book which has some sort of symbolic reference to the premise of the story and see if I can squeeze something out of that line. :o) That way it has various meanings. :o) Good luck!!!!

DEZMOND said...

oooh, I love coming up with titles and names, name for the cats included :)
Sometimes when I'm translating someone's book for the readers in my country and the title can't be translated I have to come up with a new one as well.

Aimee Reynolds said...

While I'm not a writer, I love to read what you create and believe in you! Keep it up Leigh! I pray you are all adjusting to the move and doing wonderful!!! God Bless!!! :)

Anonymous said...

hahaha! I am one of the "Shadow Falls" name haters!! LOVE THE BOOK!!! LOVE YOU! --Kimmie B

LTM said...

LOL! Thank you, Aimee! Your gorgeous photos speak for themselves~ <3

@Kim--It was the name of the town! *snort* :D No, I DO know what a huge fan you were/are, so no worries. I'm thinking about it...

Anonymous said...

yes,I know, I get it- but when I first sat down with it, I did think "oooh, she didn't tell me she wrote an eerie one..." I like the town and "falls" idea. maybe just a name with a different connotation. -kimmie

Angela Felsted said...

Wish I could give you a secret formula, but for me it either comes or it doesn't.

Even when I think I've got a great title, not everyone thinks so. :/

Old Kitty said...

I feel your pain!!! I'm crap with titles, crap!! I always, always write the story first and hope that a phrase will stand out that I can use for a title! That's the only way I know to create titles - sorry!!! Good luck with yours! Take care
x

GigglesandGuns said...

As a rule my works name themselves. This time the original name no longer makes sense and so the file sits as "Current Work."
I must be slipping -- Shadows Falls brought a lot of pictures to mind but none were paranormal.

Janet Johnson said...

Oh man! I'm terrible at titles. The only way I come up with a good title, is if I think of it before knowing anything else about the book.

I've got some great titles just waiting for a story . . . but I can't come up with anything to match an already written story. I'm totally not in love with my current works' titles.

Good luck with yours!

RaShelle said...

Leigh - My stripper name would be MeMe Church. Sounds so sexy!!!

For my titles, I try to think about the theme of the story.

Good luck!

cherie said...

I'm with you...I'm no good at coming up with catchy titles. When I saw Carrie Ryan's book The Forest of Hands and Teeth at the library, I just knew I needed to read it (without even knowing the story or reading the blurb). The title was THAT good.

Goodluck, and if you do find a formula for making great titles, let us know. I could sure benefit from it. ;)

Elle Strauss said...

Titles are tricky. So far I've come up with decent ones, but like you, I admire writers who can title each chapter. I'd find that very daunting.

Angie said...

I'm only so-so at titles. I've gotten a few from song titles or lyrics. Right now, I'm trying to think of one for a Christmas story, and I can't come up with anything good! So, good luck.

Clarissa Draper said...

I had a post last week explaining how terrible I was at naming books so I can't help you there. However, I just loved your hooker name. My would be Fluffy 7th Avenue. The fluffy might be good.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Great post! One of the best ways I've found to come up w/titles is thru songs. Go to amazon and click "music" on the drop down menu. Then type in a mood (for contemporary, maybe try: contemporary instrumentals); my books are gothic/fantasy or paranormal, so I usually type in "gothic instrumental" and then click on different albums to see the song names.

I actually have a file of "novel titles" that I've come up w/this way; a lot of times the words will even evoke an entire story premise in my head. Song titles are pretty and powerful and rich w/imagery. And best of all, they aren't copyrighted. You might even see two song titles that speak to you when combined. ;) Good luck!

Stephen Tremp said...

Here's a link to a blog I did called The Name Game ... http://stephentremp.blogspot.com/2010/07/name-game.html

Carol Riggs said...

Ha, what a fun post! I don't usually have trouble with titles, but some of them snag me. Ha, Rusty Amerest--mine worked up that way would be Pepper Malone. What a great idea!

Usually my title have something to do with the story, of course. So that would definitely make a diff, what your story is about. Something to embody the theme or flavor of your novel, in 1-4 words.

Hey! Go to Lulu's Titlescorer and type in your proposed title--it'll score it on the % it thinks it's gonna be a bestseller. According to that, my current WIP title has a 20.1% chance of being a bestselling title, and my agented novel 35.9%! LOL

Pk Hrezo said...

My porn name is Topaz Handy btw. lol

How cool for your friend to sell that title. That is fantastic! I love thet movie too.
Naming characters and titles is my forte. I love it. Sometimes I write a story around a title. Other times, I write the story and wait for the right title to hit me. Usually somewhere around the halfway mark I've come up with a title or changed the one I had originally because something else felt right. I don't think it can be forced... you just have to write the story and wait for the title to hit you. It always happens. Oh, and you also have to dance around a candle with a white witch's hat on after drinking a glass of vinegar and lighting a candle without using your hands. FYI. ;)

Michael Di Gesu said...

I'm with P.K. I have a gift for titles and names. It's the writing that get to me ... lol only kidding.

My male stripper name is JET MONROE....

Lynda R Young said...

titles either come to me early... or I'm doomed ;)

*^_^* said...

Wonderful! Awesome!
Thanks, you make my day!

Creepy Query Girl said...

my best work is usually written around the title. Without a title set in stone- I have a hard time moving forward. Isn't that weird?

Theresa Milstein said...

My stripper name is Cinnamon Keane. Hot, right?

Titles usually just come to me. I have no formula. Like with writing, I fly by the seat of my pants!

Harry Potter 7, Part II had a pretty disappointing ending for me. Veered too far from the book.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Hm I always thought I was good at titles, and then after I signed with my agent, we went through about 25 titles before we settled on a new one. Ha!

My new wip I had titled after the second chapter. It's just one of those things. Sometimes it comes to you, sometimes, you have to seek something out. But I always start out titling it with a character name or with two mc names. A sort of placeholder title.

LTM said...

@cherie--I WILL! And I agree. Some titles are SO evocative. I liked that one, too~ :o)

@AGH--I am SO trying this trick. That is FANTASTIC. Music is so inspirational anyway. Thanks, girl! :o)

@Stephen--Fantastic! Thanks so much--that is a great post. :o) <3

@PK--LOL! I'm so loving these burlesque names. Hey--I think Carol's would make a great MC name for a book! But they're all awesome. Yours is a true stripper name... and now I must kill you, title genius. :D j/k <3

(runs out to try dancing around candle trick... *snort* ;o)