“Words have meaning and names have power.”
So as I sit here (inside, not out, thank you oh so very much, stupid allergies) making a rough outline of things I want to include in the next few chapters of my novel, I was suddenly struck with an idea. Now, obviously that has to happen all the time for any writer who’s working on a draft. The difference, though, is that this wasn’t an idea for the book itself, at least in terms of storyline, character development, and the like. It was an idea for a title – a fleeting idea at first, but one that I now keep coming back to as I consider whether or not it encompasses all of what this book is. It’s impossible to tell that just yet, not with journeys that are still unfinished for almost every character in the novel, but it’s definitely one that I will be considering down the line.
Naming my novels has always been a funny process for me. Sometimes it comes easily, even before I start writing. With With a Little Bit of Luck, though, it was the complete opposite. I wrote and edited the entire novel without ever having a definitive name for it. It wasn’t until the last round of revisions, as I was going through the story again, that I grew attached to a line that appeared a few times throughout and decided to use it as the title. With my current manuscript, I had a tentative title in place almost from the start of my brainstorming and researching. I’ve been thinking of it by this name all along … but now I just don’t know. My two potential titles (and who knows if there will be more to come?) have nothing at all to do with one another, yet each ties into the story in different ways. What will I end up titling this manuscript? There’s no way to know just yet, but the whole idea of it made me curious. We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But what about its title? Do we make assumptions based on that? Does it affect whether or not we buy a book? From a writer’s perspective, I quickly learned how important a name can be. But what about from a reader’s perspective?
And does that expand, in any way, to the characters in a novel? Do we let their names help to characterize them, or do we base it more on their actions and stories? With this book, some of the characters’ names just came about almost naturally. I’d be thinking of a character and – voila! – a name would come to mind and I seriously couldn’t picture them as anyone else. Others took a bit more consideration. Regardless of process, though, one thing always holds true: I want any and every name to fully embody who the character is. So many authors say that writing and having a novel published is a bit like giving birth. And, just as I fully plan to make lists of baby names one day (although I’d be lying if I said I don’t already have some in mind, but really, who doesn’t?), I put a lot of consideration into who my characters are and how that’s reflected both in action and description.
What about you? Does a book title ever influence your decision to read it? Would you spend forever and a day naming your characters? And, just because I’d really like to be able to enjoy the beautiful weather again … anyone have any insight on when the pollen count will FINALLY go down? ;-)