Recipe for a Book Title — Part 2

As promised -a follow up to last week’s post about the new title for my 2016 release:

WIRED MAN AND OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE

I asked a few writer friends to weigh in on their own process in arriving at a title. Here’s what they said:

Dead girls“My original working title was Legacy which I knew would never make it to print–too generic, too dull, etc. I just could never come up with anything that seemed quite right. When it came time to submit, Lauren (agent) came up with Poor Little Dead Girls as a catchier option, and it stuck. I love that it’s memorable, and it fits the tone of the book, but I do get some weird looks when I casually bring it up in conversation.” – Lizzie Carlson Friend

 

EmptyTHE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY was ILLEGAL the whole time I was writing it, pitching it and imagining it on a shelf.  About two months after I sold it, my editor casually said, “Oh, you know we can’t call it ILLEGAL, right?  There’s already a novel out with that title.”  I thought it was the worst thing that ever happened.  But now I love my title so much I couldn’t imagine it being anything else.” –Maria Andreu*

*Side note: Maria has one of the best author websites around! Check it out!!
SandV“My working title of SEX & VIOLENCE was the more benign and enigmatic THE CUPCAKE LADY OF TACOMA.This was not a title my editor could live with and I couldn’t think of anything better so when he took the book to acquisitions, he used the eye-catching title SEX & VIOLENCE. I wasn’t thrilled with this title; I thought it too blunt and also too in your face for my nice little book about lake cabin summer adventures. Even as we worked on it, I couldn’t think of anything better and after a bit, it just grew on me. Then the Meghan Cox Gurdon article happened in the WSJ and I said to my editor, what the hell, let’s just call it SEX & VIOLENCE, bc that’s what we’re being accused of writing about anyway. It still is a strange title to stand behind, though. I always feel a bit sheepish.
I should be making up better working titles for future books, but all the rest of them had no title as we were working on them. It’s kind of the worst part about the process, in some ways. I wonder if not really knowing what your story is about until you edit it and revise it several times plays into this weirdness, because that has been the case with me in all subsequent books, including the 4th one I just handed in.” – Carrie Mesrobian
MurkFrenzy was always Frenzy. Editorial agreed it was a perfect fit for my first book.
The Murk, which came out a couple weeks ago, was originally titled Mergo, a Latin word meaning I drown, I bury, I overwhelm. It’s also the name of the mysterious creature/antagonist of the book. I still prefer it to The Murk, but the editorial team thought Mergo was too vague for an MG book, and they were probably right. The Murk was my suggestion too, so I’m happy that I was able to have some say in the end.” —Robert Lettrick

 

I had so many great responses to my question I needed to divide them into two posts. The next installment coming next week…

My Writing Process -Blog Tour

I got tagged by the awesome Megan Frazer Blakemore and Maria Padian -fellow Maine authors -as part of a blog tour on your writing process. You can click their names to see their responses to the following four questions about writing process.

Here are my answers!

1) What am I working on?

I have just finished a first draft of YA novel about two boys in their senior year of high school, their friendship and the role it plays in their lives when dark secrets from the past come to the surface. It’s really a book about loyalty and self-worth and how those things affect the relationships that are most important to us.

 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I think that the YA I write is primarily for high-schoolers but that doesn’t necessarily differentiate it from other contemporary realistic YA. I think what sets my writing apart is the degree of frankness and emotional honesty with which I write my characters. I hope it does, anyway. Also, I like to write about bodily effluence perhaps a shade more than the average author.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

Ah, this old question. I write because I like to tell myself stories. I write because I would be doing it anyway in my mind and writing it down makes me feel productive and purposeful. Also, I really enjoy making other people laugh and feel things. I write these specific stories because these are the stories I enjoy telling myself. Sometimes I come up with a really cool story idea but then it quickly becomes apparent it’s not a story I can tell -I want someone to tell it to me. That’s when I go to the bookstore and see if anyone has.

 

4) How does your writing process work?

My mother asked me a similar question at my book release party and I said something about prescription drugs. My writing philosophy and process is all about the phrase “small chunks” -which is somewhat unfortunate because it contains the word “chunks” in it, but it’s the most accurate verbiage I can come up with. (Small bits sounds like a genital reference.)

In all seriousness, my goal when I sit down to write is always to write 2 pages, 2 pages of dialogue, exposition, word count doesn’t matter to me but that 2 page amount is my arbitrary marker. I always read over my 2 pages from the previous day and I try not to go more than a few days without writing. Sometimes that’s possible, and sometimes that’s not. As a full time teacher, and a human with friends and a family I enjoy seeing, it all has to stay in something closely resembling balance.

I usually have a separate document where I have a table set up with a general outline and scene-by-scene sense of where I’m going. That’s usually only used when I’m writing the first half. That last third of a book is the part I struggle with the most. I’ve set up most of the conflict and now it’s time to hit those climactic moments and unravel things in a way that’s neither too rushed nor too drawn out. It’s the hardest part for me and the time when I experience the most feelings of “what if this all sucks?”

Once I complete a first draft I reread and try and identify the obvious major revisions needed before sending it to my first readers. If I went on about my revision process I’d be here all night so I think I’ll save that for another post/day.

 

Thanks for reading and for more posts on the writer’s process check out fellow agency sister Valerie Cole’s post or my fellow OneFour Maria Andreu -her book The Secret Side of Empty debuted this spring as well.