Thursday, June 17, 2010

Digging Deeper

One comment that came up often in the Next Top Title Blogfest (with my titles and others) was that a title was "generic." Special thanks to Margo Berendsen at Writing at High Altitude, who suggested I could dig deeper and make one of my titles, The Reluctant Prince, more evocative. She asked what else is striking about my character besides being a prince? What other trait does he have that's more active, with more attitude.

I gave it some thought. When I have a question about my writing, I challenge myself to come up with ten answers. I allow crazy, dumb, out-there answers, as long as I get ten. That way I get past the obvious surface answers, and hopefully find something more creative.

Here goes. What's striking about my mc? He's
1 - a prince
2- an eldest son
3- the heir to the throne of his country
4 - a brother (this is a story about three brothers)
5 - a murderer
6 - lives as a peasant (unaware of his true ancestry)
7 - an abuse victim
8 - a loner
9 - a hero
10 - a survivor

What traits does he have? He's
1 - reluctant
2 - forgotten (by his parents - not really, but he feels that way)
3 - noble
4 - heroic
5 - defiant
6 - brave
7 - royal/aristocrat/blueblood/regal
8 - isolated
9 - abandoned
10 - independent

Keep in mind, the purpose of this post is not to find the perfect title for my book (though that would be nice...), but rather to elaborate on Margo's suggestion of digging deeper, finding a more evocative title.

So here are some variations on The Reluctant Prince:

The Forgotten Prince

The Abandoned Heir

The Peasant Hero

The Reluctant Son

The Peasant Prince

I'm actually not sure how good of a job I did of finding a more evocative title - this was hard! But it was a good exercise and I definitely have some more options here. The important thing is, I went a little further, past the obvious traits that first jumped to my mind, and found some titles with a little more depth.

I mentioned before that I have a lot of family obligations coming up this summer. With that in mind, I'll be taking a blogging break for the next three weeks. Honestly, I don't know if I'll last, I may have to sneak in a post here or there, and I'll definitely try to visit some blogs whenever I can. I'll see you in July!


Christi Goddard said...

An idea to consider is to not name the book for the MC at all. The name can be the theme or the world he is. An example is Lord of the Rings. The Lord is actually the antagonist, but the story is about Frodo's quest. Dig deeper, but also broaden your horizons. A personal example is mine. I called it Lesser Evils because my MC must make really hard choices, and none of them are easy. He chooses the lesser of the evils each time, and suffers the consequences of each decision.

Susan Fields said...

Christi - I like your title, and very creative! I don't always title my books for the mc, I was just using that for the example in this post. Actually, neither of the titles I'm using are based on the mc. Killing Kessler is about the mc's goal for the book, and In the Seventeenth Year is the time when the book takes place. You make a great point here - titles can come from anywhere.

Joanne said...

I like the idea of 10 questions to dig deeper. It's amazing how much we find with that, maybe even changing our direction!

Enjoy your blog break and time with your family too!

Unknown said...

Wow I love this idea and I think I'm going to have to try it, as you know my ideas haven't been flowing as easily and I think trying this out my actually solve my problem.

PS the minute I saw The Abandoned Heir I was dying to know more... does he leave the throne behind? Then I remember seeing murderer above and I wonder what bad things he's done and why they were done? Was it for his country?

Needless to say you have me hooked!

Creepy Query Girl said...

I loved 'The Abandoned Heir' Good post and interesting idea to dig deeper for the title...hmn.

Susan Fields said...

Joanne - I've used the 10 answer method for a long time, it's amazing how much it helps to free my mind and not worry about finding the "right" answer, just 10. Usually the "right" answer is in there somewhere.

Jen - I love the questions you asked about the book in your p.s. They make me want to write another book about a prince who does bad things and abandons his throne! In my book, his parents abandon him (for his own safety) and he murders to fufill the prophecy which will save his country from its evil king (his uncle). But your book sounds awesome - if you don't want to write it, I might have to! :)

Susan Fields said...

Creepy Query Girl - I really like the word "abandoned" too. It makes me think of a past with dark secrets.

Laura S. said...

I like your titles, especially The Peasant Prince. That juxtaposition makes it very intriguing!

This is a really great way to dig deeper in titling. Thanks for the suggestion!

Have a great next three weeks! See ya when you get back. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a great exercise!

Old Kitty said...


Awwww tis always great to dig deeper - but also great if you feel your title suits your story!

What about "name of prince" tagline: hero, prince, murderer. :-)

Have a brilliant summer!!!!! See you in July, missing you already!!

Take care

Crystal Cook said...

I love your idea of coming up with ten things. I have to try that! You've done a great job of really getting a great title :)

Have fun family time! We'll miss you but will be here for you when you're back.

JE said...

I like the "The forgotten Prince" of "The abandoned heir". Both soound VERY interesting!

Good luck!


Aubrie said...

I especially like,"The Peasant Hero" but I also thought of "The Reluctant Murderer" but it doesn't have a fantasy feel to it.

Ann Best said...

There are times when we do need to take a break from Blogger. Enjoy.

Titles: I have the most difficult time with them. But what a good exercise this is. I think I'll try it.

Bossy Betty said...

Love the exercise. We'll miss you. Have a good break!

Susan Fields said...

Laura - Thank you! After I put down The Peasant Prince, I thought about The Pauper Prince, but that one might be a little too close to a slightly more famous story. :)

Diane - I love the ten answer method, I use it all the time, for any type of question I might have.

Old Kitty - That's a great suggestion! You know, I really don't think of Keenan as being a murderer, even though he is. Seems like there's a lot of murdering going on in the book (there are a lot of battle scenes - what can I say?) I'll miss you and Charlie, too!

Crystal - Thanks! And I'll miss all of you, too. I doubt I'll be able to stay away, my extended family will probably be prying my laptop from my fingers. :)

Susan Fields said...

Justine - Thank you! I like the words "forgotten" and "abandoned", too. They have an air of mystery and tragedy.

Aubrie - The Reluctant Murderer is good, especially because the first person he kills is his best friend. But I can't give away any more than that! :)

Ann - I definitely think a break is in order, even though it will be tough to stay away. But I do need to spend some quality time with my family, since we don't see each other as often as I'd like.

Betty - Thank you! And I'll miss you, too. I love reading your Betty and HOB stories!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm going to have to borrow that exercise! I haven't truly decided on my own title yet & this will help.

Enjoy your time off! :)

Southpaw said...

What a great idea. I liked "The Forgotten Prince".

Unknown said...

What a great idea.
And looking from a different perspective:
No ordinary man

Lydia Kang said...

I like those lists! They make a lot of sense. After reading your list, I thought of another one: The Secret Prince. Because he doesn't know of his ancestry, right?
It's probably totally wrong, but anyway, it just popped into my head!

Margo Berendsen said...

Aha! A list of ten! I am definitely going to try that (since I'm still searching for the perfect title for one of my books too). Lots of other applications for that too. For instance, I've overused some emotional reactions... when tempted to use "deep sigh" or "sharp breath" I need to make a list of ten other options first!

I like the Abandoned Heir. I noticed other commenters pointed out it doesn't have to traits of your MC. Lucky you, now you can start making lists for your setting, antagonist, etc!

Myrna Foster said...

I like "The Abandoned Heir." Have a lovely break. :o)

Talli Roland said...

I like the 10 questions to help you get to your title. Titles are so hard! I'm not sure which one I like - to be honest, I quite like The Reluctant Prince! Good luck with it.

Enjoy your blogging break Susan! I'll miss you!

Susan Fields said...

Jemi - I hope this helps! I use this method for all sorts of things, not just titles. It really helps to take the pressure off and allow "bad" answers, too.

Southpaw - Thanks, I like that one, too!

Elaine - That's a great idea, using a title of what's he's not instead of what he is! I really like that - thanks for the suggestion!

Susan Fields said...

Lydia - You were right on with The Secret Prince. Not only does he not know of his ancestry, but his parents gave him up to protect him because he is a prince, to keep his true identity a secret. Thanks for the great suggestion!

Margo - Yes, I definitely use the list of ten for all sorts of things, especially when plotting. Why can't Murphy get to the room in time to save Tabitha? Make a list of ten. Why does Kaden betray Ellis? Make a list of ten.

I'm guilty of lots of deep sighs and sharp breaths, too. They're just so handy!

Myrna - Thank you! I really like the Abandoned Heir, too. It raises some intriguing questions.

Talli - I like the Reluctant Prince, too. Maybe the Reluctant Heir would be better? I'll miss you guys, too! I hope to drop in whenever I can.

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

Good exercise! I did a similar one awhile back in which I listed things that each of my MCs value. That helped me clarify their motivations.

One other thing to examine in a story like this is what makes it unique. The story of a royal/heir who doesn't know he/she is that person is a common tale. That's not necessarily a bad thing--common tales are widespread because they are popular. But what about YOUR prince and his story makes him different from the rest?

Susan Fields said...

Genie - That is an awesome suggestion! I will definitely give that one some thought.

Marcia said...

What a great way to stimulate thinking about titles. I find them a challenge. For me, about 50% of the time the title comes along with the idea. The other 50% of the time -- hoo boy.

Susan Fields said...

Marcia - I'm the same way. Sometimes the title comes first and the story builds around it. But if it doesn't, well, you said it best...hoo boy. :)

Nicole Murray said...

The use of forgotten or abandoned does spark interst in a secret past and also sympathy for your MC. And I enjoy lists too. Sometimes we have so many thoughts and ideas in our head that they become jumbled. Sometime a clear blk&W list does the trick. Good idea and hope to see you back in blogland soon.