Monday, September 3, 2012

[On Writing] Logistics behind a Title

Yesterday, I wrote the final lines of my erotica short with horror elements and superheroes entitled "Pages & Play Things". I'm positive about this project as it started with a less of a bang, but as I continued writing I've rediscovered the way to translate my thoughts in projects, something I have been fearing given my absence from writing for a long time. 

Two peculiar things happened with this project. First, I had to fiddle with the story itself and first write 2,000 words before I finally heard the story click with me. And the second has to do with the title itself. If you have talked about writing with me, you will know that I start first with the title. The title is the name of the story and when I sit down to talk to the story, let it come to me, I like to know who I'm talking with. After all, my mother has taught me not to speak with strangers. 

When I don't have the title, I don't know the story. "Pages & Play Things" I think captures the subject matter of the story (a special book, which exists in defiance to the cultural and technological background of its story world) and the genre, a mixture of the erotic and nefarious. After all, Eros and Thanatos walk hand in hand. 

Before the story received this title I started with "Big Powers in Small Tights", which played with the super hero elements heavily, the eroticism of tights and the humor of my main character. Eventually, I decided to down play the humor and dial up the erotic heat and re-titled to "Teamwork", which in the context of the genre should more or less speak for itself.

Although this title is now perfect for creating the steamy images I want to elicit from the title alone, I wasn't  all that happy how it disconnects from the actual plot. The crux of the story lies within the intense diametrical oposition of the protagonist with his teammates. By that time I thought that maybe I need to hint at the plot, so I settled for "The Book That Wants to Play", but as I fitted the title in my mind, my writing devoured all the humourous bits and substituted them with weird, budding elements of horror, so I had to lose the B-movie vibe. 

As I penned the ending and logged into Facebook to announce how happy I felt at the completion of this one story, I didn't feel the title was right and as I wrote the status update "Pages & Play Things" rolled off on the keyboard. What do I think the perfect title should be? 

I think it should convey the tone of the work (the aliteration hints towards the writig style), should hint of the genre or at the very least the story archetype ("play things" whispers a bit about that) and should point at the focus of the story (the book). Sometimes all three elements can't be incorporated, but a combination of two should suffice.