The Name Game

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m horrible at naming things. And apparently, elementary rhyming songs have left me woefully unprepared for the task at hand: namely (PUN INTENDED!) giving my opus a title.

I tend to overanalyze everything Notes from the Underground-style, and naming something that I’ve been working on for the past ten years is no exception. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: it’s the Mac Guffin Horcrux* crux of it all. I would even go so far as to say I’ve lost sleep over this decision. And I’m not even saying that just because I’m an incurable insomniac, either.

See, every title I come up with is put against a rigorous scale of 1.) how much it sounds like the name of a romance novel** and 2.) how catchy it is in relation to what I’m actually writing about. So while I want to avoid stuff like “Kiss of the Night,” I also don’t want to plaster “Dah Story of Gwennie” on the cover.

I’ve also noticed a recent trend in the naming of the books:

The So-and-So’s Somewhat Obscure Relation. See: The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and thus. I s’pose I could name it The Supposed Witch Who’s Really a Vampire’s Daughter, or The Tight Ass Loser’s Daughter, but those won’t sell well.

The Noun and the Other Noun. See: The Sound and the Fury, Crime and Punishment, Sense and Sensibility. I like how this one sounds and since I’m a sucker for alliterations, it’ll probably end up being one of these.

The High-Brow Poetry Line. A la: Her Fearful Symmetry (damn, Ms. Niffenegger, you need to get off this list, and actually The Sound and the Fury should belong on this list too), Things Fall Apart, For Whom the Bell Tolls and the like. This is actually my favorite category and my next post will discuss all of the poems I’m in love with and want to name my novel after.

Participle Following Noun. See: Breaking Dawn (ptooey!). Um, I really can’t find anymore, but I just really wanted to work in a Twilight joke.

Or simply: The Blah-Blah-Blah in order to be cryptic. See: The Passage (I hated this book. I might have liked it had I not read a lot of reviews that said this book was going to be awesome and that it was well-written and subverted many vampire tropes and was scary. It fell into two out of three main Stephen King no-nos — I hate Stephen King and this is a post in and of itself — and I now use it as a hand weight for when I work out.) The Confession, The Pillars of the Earth, The Last Song*** and so forth. This is a staple for hack writers. (John Grisham Nora Roberts James Patterson Stephenie Meyer, however, has miraculously avoided this.)

So, what do I have?

Sunlight and Silver. Category II, which rates on a 5-6 scale where the first number is how much it sounds like a romance novel — 10 being, of course, FABIO’S MOUSTACHE RIDE — and the second being how relevant/catchy it is.

(My novel may be split into two or even three parts. If so, the second is Coffins and Teeth [Category II, 3-4] and Shrouds and Skeletons [Category II, 4-7]. I don’t really much like any of these for novels names, but for blogs they’re great! Psst. My blog’s a little sensitive, so I had to write that.)

When Darkness Comes. Uncategorizable, 7-4. This was its title for many, many years, but as I’ve grown older, I realize that it’s just not good. Just like my pen name used to be Crimson Destiny, but I don’t want to talk about it.

Blood Will Tell. Sorta Category IV, 8-8. Kind of awesome, but in a Rocky Horror Picture Show Way. Or a made-for-TV movie way. Starring Valerie Bertinelli and Melissa Gilbert.

Until the Moss Had Reached Our Lips. Category III, 2-5. I really, really like this one, as it comes from an Emily Dickenson poem, but it’s a little wordy for a novel. As my novel is really wordy, this makes sense, but I doubt it’s marketable.

The Spirit and the Dust. Category III, 2-7. This is eerily accurate when it comes to the themes of my novel, but it just doesn’t have a certain ring that makes me jump up and go, “Ooh, ooh, mommy, mommy, a naked American man stole my balloons I want to read that.”

To Be With You in Hell. Category III, 2-5. Again, something I really like but is kind of wordy. Reminiscent of a Sam Raimi movie, which maybe isn’t the vibe I’m going for.

Two Moons of Black. A rewording of a poem, so still Category III, 5-5. Sylvia Plath FTW and FTD (for the depression), but it reminds me of a book I read in elementary school called Walk Two Moons. And if my novel is anything, it’s not a Newberry Nominee.

I’m still waiting for a set of words to magically appear to me and punch me in the stomach so that I think, “Yes, this is my novel’s title. How could I have stupidly thought of anything else?” Alas, I also think that I will meet the man of my dreams and do the whole love-at-first-sight thing. Neither are probably going to happen, so I guess I’ll just be content with a lackluster title name that grows on me and a loveless marriage.

*I’ve thought about what I would make into a Horcrux if I could. The winners are: the eighth volume of Hellsing, my soon-to-be steampunk goggles, and –wait, I’m not going to tell you. I don’t want any Harry Potter look-a-likes coming after me.

**My mother: “Melissa, why don’t you write romance novels? I heard it’s a good way to break into the business. And then you can write whatever you want after that.” She has said this about: screenplay writing, soap-opera writing, and sitcom writing.

***After that little moment, Ryan says, “It’s a good thing he’s not a Nicholas Sparks fan.” I can’t find it, but it’s hilarious! BAZZINGA! That’s twice, Mr. Sparks. And, PPS: I just saw a picture of you and you look like a douche-canoe mixed with a skeezy high-school principal.


Late Afternoon Bonus: Gnats

I was eating popcorn the other day and it’s a new flavor: salt and pepper, emphasis on the Gwenyth Paltrow. The pepper stuck to the sides of the bag, but some condensation was left, making the floating pepper pieces look like tiny little gnats. For a second I thought I was in The Lost Boys and David was asking me how those maggots tasted. And then I snapped back into cruel, cruel reality.

Dear John

I wanted to write to you to let you know why I’ve been avoiding, nay, boycotting your stupid ass for the last two months. (Just call me the Rosa Parks of the electronic webz.)

We’re bad for each other. You’re somewhat possessive — which may be from watching all of that Twilight pr0n, nerd — and I like my freedom and creativity. I’m wacky and you’re a little stuck in the box, able to see only what’s right in front of you, and, to tell the truth, somewhat disgusting. I’m a simple girl and you’re a complex series of tubes that allows someone to instantly get any information — correct or not — by a few clicks of a mouse and several keystrokes.

See, we’re like those Mac vs. PC commercials and I’m Justin Long and you’re that other dude. I can talk smack with Bruce Willis in a completely unnecessary fourth-quel and you just, well, have eight roles on your profile. And some of those aren’t even named characters, so watch out if you’re ever in a horror movie, because boy, are you going to get it.

We’re also like Xander and Anya when they sing in that musical episode of Buffy. So watch out, because you’re gonna leave me at the altar and then I’m going to become a Vengeance Demon again and try to kill you but then have lingering doubts, sleep with a vampire, and eventually get hacked in two. Wait a tic… I mean we have all of these things we hate about each other and we’re just so different that we’re unable to communicate about them. (And I doubt you can even blame the Shumash Tribe for all of those disease you have. Whew, man.)

Even Joss Whedon wouldn’t kill one of the two of us off, because we just don’t have that special chemistry, even if we did eventually end up kissing because we’re in a life-threatening situation and you’re about to get married to your childhood sweetheart and I’ve sworn off men altogether. We have as much romantic tension as the wooden boards actors in The Covenant.

You’re frustrating and I know I’m rather inept at keeping you clean and updating you occasionally. You take everything too literally and I haven’t learned how to do anything with you other than writing a blog that seven two people read and using an electronic version of a thesaurus that’s sitting on my computer desk right now.

But, alas, like most symbiotic relationships that don’t end with a bell tower and eyeliner, we need each other. Well, you don’t actually need me because you’re just an anthropomorphized version of something that allows me to write really horrible puns. But I need you because I hate people in real life, but people on you are kind of less annoying. Or maybe just less corporeal. Same thing, really. I also need you because then I don’t feel so alone in this world. Sad, but true.

So, Dear John, I hate your stinkin’ guts. You make me wanna vomit. You are the scum between my toes.


PS: I know your real name isn’t John, internet, but, like the song says, I’ll never tell. That’s the one thing that’s sacred between us, Jedediah. Oops.

PPS: God, is that what being Nicolas Sparks is like? Jeezy-chreezy.