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.


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