Sunday, February 11, 2007

Naming the beast

I was tapping into my buddy Wayne's urban survival skills the other day when an epiphany struck.

He has traversed Second City streets for ages with only the occasional mishap, which he may mention over on his blog.

He once got me so familiar with the Windy City people were stopping me for directions. I looked like I knew where I was going.

Their desire to tap into my knowledge of the vicinity evaporated when they heard my accent. I didn't have to say "I'm not from around here." Most people could figure out that I couldn't get them much further than Borders.

Back to the point sorta
Anyway, because he knows pedestrian cities, I asked him how a clever person might deal with a dangerous situation on a crowded street, albeit in a different city.

Living in a place without much public transportation, I stay mostly ensconced in my car when I go place to place. That has its own set of dangers. There's a personal injury lawyer on local TV who scares the hell out of me. I'd rather have the Wolf Man after me than that guy.

What's in a name?
So anyway, I described my set-up so that Wayne could put his brain to work on it.

And as I did, a working title presented itself.

I'd had a working title up to that point, but it was a functional one-word title so that I had something to name Word documents. It wasn't a word I liked for the project.

Suddenly to the front of my mind jumped a longer, poetic and perfect title. One I think I'll keep.

And the gaps in the outline started to suddenly fill themselves in. I knew things about the villain. I had answers that had puzzled me.

Perhaps it's true that you gain power over a demon once you learn its name. A working title certainly seems to be a major hurdle in sparking the magic of creativity.

In truth, I'd been researching and mulling over plot points for a while and things probably just began to converge. My title grew from some reading and a factoid I picked up, and that gelled when I needed a name to relay to Wayne.

But a name for the beast also made it seem more managable. It's funny the difference a few words can make when they're the words that go at the top of the first page.

Handy Tool - Demon Name Generator
Not exactly the kind of demon my project is, but check this out - Angel/demon Name Generator from Seventh Sanctum .


Charles Gramlich said...

Like you, I've always found that a good working title really helps a story coalesce for me. Most of the time the title stays, although occassionally I'll realie that the working title gives away too much of the twist of the story and will have to modify it before I send it off. But having the right title really helps me answer a lot of my questions while writing.

Kate S said...

Congratulations on pulling it together. :)

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Shucks, Sid. Twasn't nothin'. You mention The Wolf Man; recall when Christine was doing all that shopping on Michigan Avenue and we passed Talbot's and I mentioned how I thought it would be cool if Larry Talbot ran the place?

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