Work and exams have kept me away from blogging for a couple weeks, but I’m back, and today I would like to write about something very dear and personal: my work in progress.
|That's me getting down on my|
greeting card writing skills.
Over the last year and a half, I planned and wrote my first real novel. I’d written a couple novels before, but they consisted almost entirely of poorly connected scenes and heavy doses of my own whim. So completing a full manuscript and building up the guts to show it to others for feedback has been as difficult as getting a blood test done (I’m terrified of needles, whenever I see one coming for me I start laughing and slapping people away).
Aside from my aichmophobia (they have words for everything, huh!), I have a problem, one I am almost too embarrassed to confess: I’m terrible with titles. I need help choosing them. More than help--I need someone to take me by the hand and lead me to the right one.
It's all part of some Mayan curse, I know it.
My current novel didn't have a title for a long time. I was about halfway through the first draft when I forced myself to sit with pen and paper and brainstorm. The session was, well… let’s say the thought of it still makes me squirm. I barely managed to scribble five or six mediocre titles before I tossed my pen aside in frustration.
As I sat there stewing, an idea came to me--something that actually made sense!
Temporarily satisfied, I clung to what I had and kept on writing.
Several months later, I began submitting chapters of my WIP to Critique Circle, and some of my critiquers didn't feel the title went well with the story. I registered these comments, but didn't stop to analyze the problem since I had a lot of writing to do and was already aware that titles and I would never have an amicable relationship. I'm terrible with names in general—just check out my post on Cool Name Generators.
As of August 30, my first sci-fantasy novel is complete. It still needs editing, and I'll probably change some scenes, but it's done. Now the time has come to plan the next one. I already have many ideas for the sequel, as well as a general plot, but I want to define some key points in order to write my sequel as my NaNoWriMo project.
With NaNoWriMo in mind, I spent the entire morning of last Saturday jotting down ideas on paper and you’ll never guess what happened: I realized the title Making Time is perfect for the second book!
You can imagine the look of horror and dread on my face when I realized this. If I decided to name my second novel Making Time, that would leave the first book—the completed one—once again nameless!
Oh, what to do? What to do? After about a year, I’d grown attached to Making Time. But it wasn’t the right title; I could tell. Desperate, I sent out a plea for help. And help arrived much sooner than I expected. Great CCer Kelly Walker, whose debut novel Cornerstone is coming out soon, gave me the gift of a new title:
My mouth dropped open when I read it.
The phrase, both in its literal and figurative senses, suits the story well. I pondered it, consulted with regular readers and critiquers, and made my decision. The new title stays.
But now that I had a new title there was one more thing left to do: check if it had already been taken. Titles can't be copyrighted, so there's always the chance of having more than one book with the same name. eHow sums this phenomenon up very nicely:
Even though unrelated books might share the same title, it could be a big problem if, say, you are a debut novelist and you want to name your speculative book Jurassic Park. That would be a very difficult stunt to pull off.
So, when choosing a title, it’s always a good idea to search for it on the net to check if there are pre-existing books with the same name. For example, my original title Making Time is used in a self-help book on how to manage time efficiently, as well as a book on how people perceive time at different speeds according to the circumstances which surround them. However, both titles are followed by a subtitle, and the works are not in the science fiction or fantasy genres, so I can still consider using Making Time for my sequel.
Since I had a new choice of title, Serving Time, I moved on to the internet and looked up books with the same or similar names. Serving Time has been used before. There is a book called Serving Time, Serving Others, on acts of kindness performed by inmates and prison staff. Fortunately, the title isn't exactly the same, as it is clearly longer and more specific. The genre is also far from sci-fantasy.
Moving on, I encountered a rather new novel with the exact title Serving Time. However, it is erotica. Again, not quite sci-fantasy…
There happens to be one science fiction novel with the title Serving in Time. This novel is from 1975 and, while the title is very similar, it's still not exactly the same as my option.
After doing this little bit of research, my conclusion is that it is quite safe to use Serving Time for my upcoming sci-fantasy novel. What do you think? Do you believe the title has already been used too much?