Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Agony of a Name #IWSG

The IWSG question of the month: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Definitely, without a doubt, titles are harder. I'm not so fussed with character names. I once wrote an outline for a story and I didn't want to waste time coming up with the main character's name just yet so I put in a placeholder: Guy. That ended up becoming the character's official name. With character names I can simply look up baby names and find one I like, but titles carry more weight. Along with the cover, titles are part of the first impression you make with potential readers. You want to capture the genre, the essence of the story, maybe even the drama. In a way, the title explains what the book is about. So, yeah, coming up with the perfect title is something to lose sleep over. For me, anyway.

Please note: The July IWSG posting will be on July 3, a Tuesday, due to the US Fourth of July holiday.

Announcing the IWSG Anthology Contest!

The genre is Young Adult Romance.
The theme will be revealed on September 5, along with the judges and other details. This will be our fourth anthology. Our previous anthologies were Parallels: Felix Was Here, Hero Lost: The Mysteries of Death and Life, and Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime.


The next #IWSGPit is Thursday July 19th 8:00am - 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time. Over a thousand agents and publishers have been invited to tune in that day. Polish your story and your Twitter pitch and be ready!

62 comments:

  1. Titles can be tricky to get just right. I am considering changing mine with my current ms at the moment and it gives me the jitters to be honest!

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    1. I've changed the title of my current WIP three times already and will probably change it again before I'm done.

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  2. 'I didn't want to waste time coming up with the main character's name just yet so I put in a placeholder: Guy. That ended up becoming the character's official name.' Ha ha. Love it. I love choosing names to suit the character!

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    1. I'll spend a little extra time on naming characters in a historical setting ie do some research on a time appropriate name. No point naming a character Zoe when she lives in the 18th century.

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  3. That's exactly how I feel. Character names are much easier. I also make placeholders for names I haven't come up with yet. Although I usually leave a blank. Which means there's a lot of blanks by the end and it's a challenge to place the right name in the right place. Your way is much smarter.

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    1. I couldn't leave blanks. I'd have to put something in, plus it's easier just to do a quick Find/Replace in Word once I have the right name.

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  4. I like Guy. It is a real name after all.

    I don't find either very difficult.

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  5. And I hate it when I finally get the perfect title only to find it's already a book. UGH. :) Helps to have several choices. I love that you named the guy, GUY. hahah

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    1. Isn't that awful!!! I've done that. Back to the drawing board!! Having extra choices prepared would've helped.

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  6. I feel exactly like you on the title/name question. I really struggle with the title and only have New Story for my current manuscript until inspiration hits.

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    1. Yep, sometimes inspiration takes time

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  7. I love your place holder - Guy! I don't think I've ever done that before. Maybe I'll try it. I tend to subconsciously use titles and character names as a focus for the story. Not sure when that started. I only realized it when I was writing up my post for today.

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    1. Yes, I've done that too. I recall changing the name of a character when I was halfway through the manuscript and it actually changed his character so I totally rewrote him.

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  8. Guy, huh? Well that works. I'm of the opinion the more you read a name in the manuscript, the more permanent it becomes. Therefore, it's important for me to come up with names from the get go. There's only one in all of my books that's giving me trouble, and it's because it's a sci-fi genre and therefore doesn't follow normal naming conventions.

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    1. sci-fi can be tricky like that. As long as you don't go for an overly complicated name, it's all good.

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  9. Titles either come to me right away, either before I start writing or right after I start... or I end up spending massive amounts of time coming up with something that sort of sounds right but isn't quite. There's never been any in-between for me so far.

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  10. Guy:Guy = brilliant! Titles and story ideas come easily for me. Names are much more difficult, because the rhythm has to be right.

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  11. I'm a big believer in names being more important than riches:) I won't even start a story if I don't have a killer name for both the protagonist and the novel.

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  12. I think you've nailed the importance of a title. Maybe I should try that placeholder for name idea. My problem about that is that I feel like I need a characters exact name and history before I start writing.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I'll admit, having the character name at the start helps a huge amount.

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  13. Hi Lynda - your 'Guy' is a good choice - even by default. But getting the title right I can see is more important ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Titles are strange creatures of their own

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  14. I don't have a lot of trouble with either but I do have a small process, but characters are probably easier if I were picking one.

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    1. I'd love to hear your process some day

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  15. My outline and first draft may only have character descriptions like Vic or MC until I get a feel for them. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Sometimes it takes time to gain clarity enough to find them a fitting name.

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  16. Titles are harder for me too and I get that there is more invested in it. But I also think an MC's name that draws the reader in is an important part of the blurb, so it's all tricky! I do think the name should reflect the personalities somehow, but how to do that is pretty indefinable.

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    1. Absolutely! A character name is important to get right. I go by name origins--time and place, number of syllables--rhythm, the sound--soft or hard, and sometimes the meaning of the name.

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  17. haha Guy is a fine name. Funny how it came about. Titles just pop in at my sea and away I go.

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  19. Ha! I tried to write "Hello and thank you for the post," but it came out as "Hell and thanks for the post!" 😳

    I will challenge your assertion that titles carry more weight than character names. Rather, I'd suggest that they carry just as much weight, but in a different and more subtle way. I'm the flip of you, I guess, in this arena. I waste little time on titles and am far more intentional when picking names. I do love the "guy" becoming "Guy" story, though. That's excellent. Have a great Wendesday. :)

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    1. I bow to your assertion. Character names are important, but I think because I find them easier, I put less internal stress on them.

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  20. I'm three quarters of the way through my story and the antagonist's name is Antag. Both my crit groups think that's hilarious.

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  21. I agree! Titles are often tough. Character names are fun, though, and I like to pin those down before I start writing, because it helps clue me in on their personality. :D

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    1. Yep, I often find them fun too. Titles not so much.

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  22. Wow, it's time for another anthology. Time is flying by.

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    1. Yeah, the year is going by way too fast.

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  23. I find that both titles and names are important to get right, but I can't get into the writing groove without the right names for my characters.

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  24. Well Guy is a pretty great name! :) I have to be careful with my names as they tend to get or start with the same letter which can make it harder for a reader (at least what I have experienced as a reader) to remember who's who and done what in the story.

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    1. Yeah, I'm conscious of that too. As a reader, I really prefer the names to start with different letters. A little thing, but important, I think.

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  25. I've lost many a nights sleep coming up with a title. Characters just pop into my head, sometimes before I even know they have a story.

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  26. I also use placeholder names, although usually I default to X. :-D

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    1. X works :)
      Everything can be adjusted, changed, fixed.

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  27. It's a wonder writers sleep at all.

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  28. I completely agree - titles are HARD!

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  29. I struggle with character names. My characters remain Mrs. B, Mr. X and Miss Y for a very long time.

    I read an interesting IWSG post where the author said she researches geography and culture before settling on a name. Another IWSG participant said that a name needs to also be decade-appropriate, which makes sense if one actually wants to find the best possible name for the character.
    I also like the ‘sound’ of a name. But as wonderful as a name ‘sounds’, the aural appeal should ideally be secondary to the appropriateness of the name.

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    1. I totally agree re appropriateness of a name. I remember reading an historical and the main character's name was Mya. Sigh.

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  30. I like coming up with names, although last names are harder to come up with than first names. I try to add some diversity to them, so that I don't have a story where it sounds like all the characters are living in the suburbs in the 1950s.

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    1. Just type in Italian Surnames in Google(or whatever diversity you are after). Very helpful lists out there.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.