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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Horse or camel, you decide…

As I head to the finish line of my second novel,  I find myself thinking more and more about the title. What the heck am I going to call this book?

‘Invisible’ came to me easily. It was barely more than an idea and a handful of notes when that title popped into my head. It is perfect for that story, encapsulating its essence. It is all about the invisible: the main character feels she is disappearing in her marriage, then she is the unseen, unacknowledged victim of  her husband’s terrible crimes; Daryl is the invisible destroyer of her life (and so many others), as deadly and insidious as nerve gas. It is about one woman’s struggle to be seen, truly seen, by herself as much as by others.

This second novel is harder though. It has a working title, which suited it at the time that the story was a twinkle in my imagination, but which now simply doesn’t do it justice. So I am spending a lot of time thinking.

I’m the member of a couple of forums for writers, and I’ve noticed a few people are going through the same process as me. I’ve noticed something else too…they ask for help from strangers. Help to name their book. Weird.

I understand their logic: by asking the opinion of others, and even asking others to name their book, they think they will end up with something strong, eye-catching, and guaranteed to appeal to a mass of people.

But have they never heard that saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee?

The only person who can name your book is you. You know the story inside out. You know the market you are aiming for. You know the sort of person who will read your book. Strangers on a forum can’t know that, and so no matter how strong their ideas are, chance are they won’t quite be right.

Ask the opinion of a handful of trusted friends or family, by all means. They are the ones who have no doubt been bored to tears by you talking about the story you are creating; and that means they know it well too.

That is what I shall probably be doing too, once I finally come up with a short list of possibles. Although more likely I shall suddenly get an idea one day while walking my dog and thinking about something else; and that’s the moment I will know. Something in my gut will tell my that it is right.

What I definitely won’t be doing is coming up with a title by committee. I don’t want to end up with a camel…

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