Monday, 17 October 2011

This blog post has no title!

I have just changed the title of the novel I'm currently working on.

Again.

I just can't decide on the right title. I almost feel like letting the publisher decide.

Just think how important the title of a book is. A good one will not only be memorable but make potential new readers actively seek out the book.

It will resonate in your head like a tuning fork. Stick in the mind like stubborn egg stains. Have an emotional punch like Muhammed Ali.

A good title even becomes an icon or a touchstone in its own right.

Catch-22. 1984. Brave New World.

It can also signify the genre.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
could not be anything but fantasy.

The Unquiet has to be a thriller.

It can be eponymous, like Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary; or signify the theme, like Crime and Punishment or Pride and Prejudice.

Or it can be quirky, like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, or The Knife of Never Letting Go.

And just silly and quirky, like Puckoon, or The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

At the same time as thinking about this I'm reading an autobiographical monograph by Haruki Murashami called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

People, he says, often ask him if, while running, he is thinking about the novel he is currently writing.

"No," is his answer. Actually, he is thinking about nothing. Or, as he puts it, The Void.

Now, here is an interesting place. I love The Void so much I have a room permanently reserved there.

The problem is, I often lose my way when trying to reach it.

The Void is variously also known as The Still Point of the Turning World (T.S. Eliot), The Supreme Point Where All Contradictions are Resolved (André Breton and the Surrealist Manifesto), and The Uncarved Block (Chinese Taoist Art training).

In a world drowning in a surfeit of words, to which we are all, writers par excellence, fatally addicted, The Void is reached by taking a Journey to the East - which is East of Eden - by jumping off Brighton Rock, following the Songlines along the Road to Wigan Pier, through the Heart of Darkness, crossing the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, at the end (where else?) of The Road Less Travelled.

Not enough people go there.

It's quiet: in The Void you can't even hear yourself think.

Here, you can try without trying, be without wanting, start without stopping.

All opposites are reconciled like identical poles of a magnet brought together as if they were north and south.

And here, as Pierre Reverdy said, is the place where the most successful poetic images are generated.

"The image is a pure creation of the spirit. It cannot emerge from a comparison, but from the coming together of two distant realities. The more the relations between those two realities are distant and right, the stronger the image will be - the more it will have emotive force and poetic reality."

Is not this also what we require from a successful book title?

So what, you're hopefully wondering, is the title I have settled on (at least until a better one comes along)?

In truth, it's not one I thought of myself. I have my fiancée, Helen, to thank.

She, being a musician and composer, knows the Void well, since music is another conveyance that transports to it the sympathetic mind.

The rejected titles were: The Drowning. The Essence. The Ending.

The new one: Stormteller.

Would you pick up a book with such a title?

7 comments:

adele said...

David,thanks for picking up my baton so to speak...a bit of a snarl-up on my part I 'm afraid...but this post is fascinating and titles are as well. I was advised to change my FACING THE LIGHT to THE PARTY AT WILLOW COURT and resisted successfully but I'm pretty sure the book would have done better called the latter! Top dog at publishing house who wanted the change told me that the most successful books are the ones where "It does what it says on the tin!" Hmmm. Love Stormteller as a title. Instantly intrigued.

Keren David said...

I love Stormteller as well. Do you have a surname, David?

Tabatha said...

I would pick up Stormteller. It's unique and interesting.

Sue Purkiss said...

I think it's a very good title. Can't tell whether it's the right one for your book, though, without knowing something about the content. To me, it suggests fantasy - something like Ursula Leguin? Or maybe like some of Robert Westall's, the ones that have a touch of fantasy - like The Wind Eye.

David said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad you like the name, and so is Helen! I am David Thorpe, my website is www.davidthorpe.info, and this was my first post on ABBA, having previously been blogging over at Dragontongue.

The Stormteller novel is about climate change and jealousy/revenge and brings a couple of Welsh myths to new life, including the story of Taliesin.

Sue, it's interesting you mention Ursula LeGuin. The Left Hand of Darkness is a great title, and The Dispossessed is a favourite novel of mine.

Adele, that a book does what its title says like the name on a tin, is good advice - it alludes and tantalises! All the same, I agree that I prefer Facing the Light to Parry at Willow Court.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Welcome to ABBA David! The title Stormteller is intriguing - I would also say as well as the title the cover illustration matters but I don't know how much control you have over that one or if that will effect the e book.

Leila Rasheed said...

Absolutely. I think Stormteller sounds like a book I'd want to read.