Picking the Write Path

As many of you know, for the last year I have struggled with finding a title for the second book in my Dragon-Called Legend series.forest Two months after the first book was published, Fire of the Covenant, I started the sequel. A month was spent roughing out major scenes, then I was able to sit down and start writing the actual follow-on story. A blinking cursor sat on the top of the first page. I stared blankly while the sunlight waned and at some point became night. That day bled into another. This was followed by two more days of agonizing over a title for this book. Finally, I decided I needed to move forward and reluctant as I was, I typed BOOK TWO.

A year later and nothing had replaced these two haunting words.

“Haunting! Aren’t you being just a little melodramatic.” Her voice was like smooth Bourbon, rich and deep, yet at the same time had a sense of velvet about it.

“I wouldn’t say that,” I defended my use of haunting, but Willow just tossed her copper red hair, leaned over and put her elbow on the arm of her distressed leather chair, her chin resting on her balled fist. I had gotten used to the dirty blond look, but if anything, she epitomized change.

“Of course you wouldn’t.” She shook her head; the chin still anchored to her fist, then she stood with a scowl; her eyes closed and eyebrows raised. With a sigh she opened her eyes and dropped into the chair, her body sagging so that she was lying in the seat. She fixed me with a stare, the scowl still in full force. “Okay, tell me why the words Book Two haunted you?”

“Actually, it’s not the words themselves.”

She bolted upright; the scowl wiped clean by a stern glare. I spoke quickly to fend off the anticipated barrage, “It was the use of the words as the title for the book.”

I had to keep from snickering. She sat there, her mouth agape; her eyes shifted wildly as her mind whirled and tried to comprehend.

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“The title is an extremely important part of my writing.” I leaned closer somehow thinking that it would emphasize my words. “It helps me discover the path.”

‘The path?” Her eyes had settled and added to her question.

“It provides clarity as to where I need to go. I can look through the forest of all the storylines that I could be writing. Instead it points me down the one true path of the story that I want to write.”

“That makes no sense.” The scowl had returned; from where I hate to guess. “I think you have been away from your writing too long.” She relaxed into the back cushion with a Cheshire Cat smile. “The stress of not writing has finally made you go insane.”

I laughed and relaxed as well. “That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that a title; which captures the crux of the book, makes it easier for me to envision what the story should be, instead of all the what-it-could-bes. I can better connect to my creative flow when I can focus on a meaningful title.”

“Connect to your creative flow!” Smile gone, Ms. Scowl back. “And what the Hell am I.” She was on her feet, and a finger pointed at me like a German Luger. “If you want to ‘connect to your creative flow’, then you should have been talking to me over the last five months instead of spending all your time moving into a new house.”

“Halt. Aufhören. Put that away.” I laughed and gently pushed her pointed finger back into her fist, though I wasn’t sure if that was a sane thing to do either. “Let me explain.”

At least Ms. Scowl was gone, but Madame Frown was only a slight improvement. She sat stiffly down, her back like a razor’s edge, and her eyes dared me to come up with something acceptable.

“You are my Muse, my creativity.” I scooted forward so that I could put a hand on her knee. “You are the source of my writing. Without you I would just be fumbling around with a dozen unfinished stories.”

My adulation seemed to be having the desired effect. Her shoulders lowered and the anger faded from her face – at least a little.

“Then what did you mean?” Her voice softened. I guessed she was hurt by my earlier words. How she had flown from angered to aggrieved, so quickly, was beyond my male understanding.

“You are so creative that sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the choices.” I kept my one hand on her knee; I figured it was a good idea to keep her at a safe distance, then held up my other hand to stop her before she could launch into more objections. “I know that is counterintuitive. I am definitely not complaining that you are too creative.” The next words I used could be calming or release the perfect storm. “Your creativity generates lots of different ideas as to what I can do with the story. This is what keeps me from just sitting there staring at a blank screen.” I paused for a deep breath. “Even so, sometimes there are several ideas rolling around in my head as to the direction the story should go in.”

“They’re all good ones.” Now we shift into being offended.

“Yes. Yes. Great ideas. However, I can’t use them all.” I put on my best sorrowful hound dog eyes. “For the manuscript to move forward, I have to have one solid focus for the storyline.”

Her head tilted and I could see her considering my words.

“The title helps me to focus on the best option for the main storyline. As I am writing, I can look at the title and it keeps me on track so that I don’t wander down a rabbit hole following the white rabbit of another story.” I sat back satisfied that everything was clear now.

“So what you’re saying is that you can’t even keep the story straight in your mind without some sort of visual reminder?” She grinned.

I didn’t snap back with a witty remark (I am a writer after all) as I rationalized that sarcasm was better than the host of emotions I had already dealt with. “Not exactly. I can keep the story straight. It is just that the storyline can go down several paths and having a title, that is based upon one specific path, helps me to ignore the others when they pop up; which they do from time-to-time, and move consistently toward the end of the book.”

“Over the last year I have given you a lot of title options, so did you finally settle on one?” Her curiosity overcame all the other emotions.

“Yes.” I intentionally didn’t add anything else.

“Well?”

“You need to go over to the series website to find out what that is.” This is a direct, inexcusable attempt to get you to read the blog posts on my series website at DragonCalled.com/blog

“Humph.” She crossed her arms and legs while she slid into the back of the chair. “Since you now have a path, how do you plan to get there.”

I stole her Cheshire grin and leaned back, hands clasped behind my head. “Ready to work?”

Coming up with a title, even if just a working title, helps me find the path to my writing goal. I wonder if I am the only one who does something like this? Is there anything that points to the path that lets you reach your goal?

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