Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In search of a name

It's two weeks since I wrote my post 'Ready, set go!' about putting my pen to paper and getting started on the first draft of my new, no-name Inspector Green novel. At that time I had about 10 pages written. I am now proud to announce that I have 73 pages! Mind you, it's 73 handwritten pages and half the paragraphs are crossed out, but still, it's progress! Moreover, while I was doing that, the proofs of my novel THE ANCIENT DEAD arrived from the publisher and I have been wading through those too. And I had to prepare a talk to give to the local editors' association.

As an aside, that group is impressive! It was a regular monthly meeting but almost all the seats were filled. Not only did they laugh at my jokes but they listened for nearly an hour and then asked questions for another half hour, despite a snowstorm brewing outside. One tip I learned for any association struggling with poor attendance: serve excellent snacks (croissants, cheese, strawberries, among other things), and in addition to coffee and tea, serve alcohol! I noticed several members pouring Baileys on their ice cream.

I also updated my website, did some social media fiddling, and spent hours researching on the internet. And by the end of two weeks, I had 73 pages and two problems. First of all, no body. There was lots of mystery and intrigue, but I was writing and writing and writing without ever reaching that crucial point in a detective novel: the appearance of a body. It arrives on p. 74, but it remains to be seen, once I get this handwritten scribble down on the computer where I can examine it, whether that's soon enough. I don't think I've ever put off murder for so long before,

The second problem is, no-name doesn't cut it as a title. A title is like the cherry on the top of a sundae, the perfect touch that ties the whole creation together. Sometimes it comes to me easily, even before I've started the book. Sometimes it jumps out at me from a phrase I've written. Other times I play with words, comb through Internet quotations and generally tear out my hair before I hit upon the perfect title that captures the essence of the story.

No-name is about domestic violence, so I toyed with variations on the wedding vows. 'For better or for worse' and 'Till death do us part' have both been done to death. To have and to hold... Meh. I combed through Shakespearean quotes online. Nobody does death quite like Shakespeare. But so far, I've struck out.

So the search continues. I hope that by the summer I will have found my answer. Stay tuned!


Sara E Johnson said...

Hi Barbara- I enjoyed your No Name blog. I'm curious. Have the titles of your previous works been chosen by you, or your editor? My working titles keep getting the boot- but being new to the business, I have so far put my trust in the publisher.

Rick Blechta said...

Fear not. It will come to you at the time that it's ready to be revealed. Just sit tight!

Donis Casey said...

I'm having the same problem. No name. Usually one of the characters comes through, but I'm half=way through the first draft and they've been tight-lipped up to now. Sara, my publisher chose the name of my last book, but they kept the titles I chose for my first ten books. Don't ask me why.