Sunday, February 13, 2011

Choosing a Name

Names are important.  Don't be fooled into thinking they don't matter or have any bearing.

Choosing a Novel Title
What ones sell?  What ones don't?  I don't have any answer to that because there are some titles out there that have me raising an eyebrow.  But when you're working on a novel, how do you choose a title for your work?

For myself, I focus on the overall theme of the novel, and extract a title from there.  Some people come up with their titles before they write their novel, some during the process and some decide on something once they've finished.  Everyone works differently.

And I'm sure you've read or know firsthand, that sometimes the title we put thought into isn't even what makes it to the bookstores.  Publishers and their marketing agents know what sells.  We leave that part up to them.  But first, we have to make it attractive enough to make them want to get their hands on it.

Of course, I'm not saying, pick the perfect title and you'll have agents lining up for you.  What I am saying is if your title accurately reflects your book, it will speak for you and your creativity.  Here's a few simple things to keep in mind when choosing a title for your work.

- make sure it's clear, distinct and appropriate
- do an internet search to make sure it wasn't recently used for a published book, or movie
- remember it doesn't have to be a number of words when one will do just fine

Choosing names for our characters
The advice out there is clear - try to avoid hard to pronounce names.  And I agree with that counsel.  There's been many times I've read a book and there's characters with such wild names I couldn't even begin to know how to say them.  I find myself skimming over them, or "nicknaming" them a variation from what is there.

Now, this is not to say there isn't room for complicated names, but they should be kept to a minimum or you risk losing your reader.  If every person they come across has some outlandish name, they might just put your book down.

So, where do you get your names?  I pull from people around me sometimes.  Then there's moments where a new character shows up and I'm like who are you.  My mind just goes blank.  Here's a couple of sites you might find helpful.  I know they've bailed me out.

They're random  name generators.  Some allow you to put in background, ethnicity,etc.  Check them out if you run into a dead end.

http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm
http://www.behindthename.com/random/
Here's one for you fantasy writers:  http://www.rinkworks.com/namegen/