“This must be how new parents feel,” I mumble to myself as I scrawl yet another set of awkward sounding words onto the lined paper.
I didn’t think it would be this hard, naming a novel, but I’m convinced that I know how my dear friend must have felt the night she texted me to say that her soon to be born baby may end up being called Ashley – not as an honour to me, but because it was the name she and her husband hated the least.
As I stare at my loose-leaf paper, littered with words and phrases – many struck through or forgotten – I can’t help but wonder if my friend’s list looked like this as they tried to pick two names to match their surname. My web of brainstormed words work well by themselves, but sound awkward when placed together, like they aren’t meant to lie side by side. The nouns fight the adjectives, the verbs fight the nouns, and the adverbs have abandoned the fight altogether. Creating this novel was fun, but naming it’s not – kind of like making human progeny. It seems like this word baby is destined to exist without a title to call its own.
I’m searching for something engaging enough to appeal to reluctant readers, but deep enough to pique the interest of the advanced. I want a title that relates to the protagonist’s struggle, but doesn’t give away his development. I’m seeking a name that’s memorable enough to make you want to know more, but not too long that you can’t remember it. I’m looking for a title that speaks to the themes of the novel, without sounding like a theme statement – or worse, a straight to Netflix movie. And I should be able to do this.
Like a parent, I’ve read all the naming sites. I have my list of tips and tricks. I’ve even come up with some good possibilities – but so many have been scribbled out of contention. How nervy of that novel published eight years ago to use my preferred title? Talk about gall that the runner up sounds like so many other books. There’s no way I’m going to give my book a name that won’t allow it to shine as the individual that it is.
Wait a tick. I’m starting to sound like the type of person who would name their offspring “Ahshli” and claim that it’s for the poor thing’s own good, that it will make them stand out in a world of conformity. I feel like I should settle, like I should choose one of the overused formulas and redundant vocabulary – whichever I hate the least. But I won’t.
If my friend can keep brainstorming and come up with a beautiful name for her daughter – one that isn’t shared by two of her mom’s close friends – I can do the same. I turn back to my notepad and scratch in a new word, encasing it in a box of purple ink so I can’t ignore it – “perseverance.” It might not fit a Young Adult novel, but it will help me find that elusive title. Eventually.