Sunday, 20 February 2011

Clever title for a post about titles

How important is a title?

The title. You only get one. It's the first thing that most people see. It can draw people in, it can put them off. I still think the first line is the most important of any piece of writing, but the title can come close.

I was thinking about this a lot with Brumathick. In my last round of editing on the piece I thought of many subtitles that might catch the eye, draw more people to the story. Brumathick: Between the Stars. Trapped Between Stars. Lost in Space... I'm kidding with that one, but you get the point.

In the end, Brumathick was just the right title in my mind. I couldn't bring myself to alter the title for the sake of attracting more readers. Pretentious maybe, given that few enough people read my work as is, and I really would like to reach a larger audience, but ultimately, I have to go with what I feel is right for the piece.

Doctor Crow is another name. It does a little more than Brumathick, the words are real words and have some resonance, they even vibrate a little against each other, suggest a little of the strangeness that the piece holds. But it doesn't do as much as it might.

Sometimes I try and set up tension in the title. This Mundane Slavery or This Bright Lie, for example, are both hooks. How can you apply the adjective mundane to slavery, or how can a lie be bright?

This Old Man, Once Mighty tells you where you're going. It already sets up a history for the story. It holds a lot of resonance.

(I talk about resonance a lot, because it's important, especially when you have so few words. You need to be aware of how things resonant inside people's memories, in their heads, and you need to know how to work with that, how to use that.)

Edit: And then, literally the next day, a column on titles goes up on which has a lot of what I was trying to say and a good comment on titling to genre to.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sweet Nothings

Ah... that special first post. So important and yet so insignificant. It needs to be amazing, and yet, almost no one will read it...

And thus, I suppose, this nervousness, this tentative, almost palpable apprehension. I have before me a blank page, a blank slate and all that connotes. Every writer knows the fear of the blank page. That accusing emptiness.

Why am I here when I have a perfectly serviceable blog in Author's Commentary? Well, my blogging needs and attitudes have changed. I want to do more with the blog.

I could just change the title and address, but that would mean changing a whole heap of links. And it's not as if I have a whole bunch of readers to bring with me. So a fresh start. Something that is about what I'm currently writing as much as what I've just posted. Somewhere I can grumble about the length of time it's just taken me to write Orion and the Bear, first draft coming in at a shade under a thousand words.

Or where I can mention that having written that I am reminded of a longer short story I never quite finished called Thor vs. Angel that I should dig out and finish off.

Somewhere I can talk about the little things I live. Like a policeman asking for a bag on a rainy day and me glibly commenting, "there's nothing worse than a book and water...". True story. He's a policeman, I'm sure he sees far worse than wet books every other day...

Somewhere I can go: hey, there's this great range of new Mini Modern Classics from Penguin. If you like short fiction pop down to you local bookshop and check them out, it's a really great opening line-up.