Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ignoring Deb, U-Turns, and A Need for Titles

I managed to get everything done that I needed to yesterday, plus a quick shopping trip for new jeans, and wound up at the coffee shop plenty early. Latte in hand, I snagged the comfy seats by the fire, scooted the table up, and got to writing.

About a page later, I was at a climax point, where I had originally planned to wrap up the La Llarona story. The ghost has a hold of the boy, he's struggling to get away... and then he does. That was not my plan. Every writer talks about times when the story gets away from them and all of a sudden the writer realizes that they're not driving any more. In my case, I realized there were about three more pages to the story (if not more when I start to revise).

Before I could finish, Deb walked in with her laptop and said she was going to ignore me for a while to do some writing of her own. So, there we sat, ignoring each other for a while until the rest of the gang started to wander in. I finished my rough draft, finally, and resigned myself to the fact that this story is going to be more work than I originally planned it to be. I'll tell you right now, this rough draft is one of the roughest I've ever produced. Usually, I'm more of a writer who does mental pre-writing and then when I get to physical writing, I've got a pretty good idea of what's going on. Not this time. Not by a long shot.

I'm beginning to sense a pattern, as well. Right now I've got two stories I keep calling The __ Story and both have proven to be very problematic. I think the lack of clear title and the lack of clear vision go hand-in-hand. When I think of titles, I think of distilling the essence of what the story is all about and pasting a few words to that effect at the top. I can't help but think that once I get the perfect title for these problem stories, the rest of the difficulties I'm having with them will fix themselves. Focus, right? Clarity of vision.

So tell me, what's your title philosophy? Does having a strong title make it easier for you to writ the story that goes with it? Or, do titles come last in your writing process?


Whittaker Luckless said...

My plans are always fluid. My working titles are often a character's name. Or a "When [character] [verb] [location/event]" format thingy. Or a word I just learned and like the sound of. Or a theme, that doesn't even have a story yet. I once formatted a document and named it "the Calligula Games" and didn't put anything in it yet. On the other hand, I've written all these stories about Eves--hundreds of pages--and good titles for the books, the whole series, just eludes me.

D.B. deClerq said...

I hate coming up with titles. I usually start with a character. Then I build on what would happen to that person. I have a working title for the first HM, but I don't really like it. I hope that the Rogues will have a better idea after they read it.

Jenny said...

I have to have a title and/or a first line...sometimes it's the only good part of the story...

Oh, and if you need help killing the boy, we could always trade notebooks again =)