I have an issue with working titles. Don’t get me wrong, I use them all the time, so it’s not like I’m against the concept. It’s a heck of a lot easier to refer to a project by name rather than function. For example, at work we have a multi-site multi-in-multi-out cloud-based menu management platform. That’s one heck of a mouthful. So it got shortened to the MultiSite Cloud Menu Manager. OK. Fine, we can… wait, that’s still too long. What about MSCMM? Yeah, nah. CMM? I guess, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue, and it’s missing all the other bits. It’s not just a cloud based menu manager, so an acronym sells it short. Especially during development, it’s necessary to reduce the word count when discussing what we’re working on.
What about HumpBack? Say what? What does that mean? It means all of the bits and pieces that this project is, but without having to say it all. The mere mention of HumpBack means all of what it’s supposed to be. That’s great. It’s a word that has an attributed meaning outside its conventional meaning. Not only that, it rolls off the tongue, it’s obscure enough that it cannot be mistaken for a real humpback whale, and it’s familiar enough that it’s pronounceable and memorable. That’s cool.
So what’s my beef with working titles? They’re sticky. That is, you get to using the working title for so long that, once it comes time to actively naming the end product, it’s really, really hard to not use the working title name. It may have started as a joke (Project Blue Steel, for example), or as a random word picked out of a hat (Sprocket, Lima Bean) or someone’s favourite television show at the time (Archer, Targaryen, Galadriel), but if the project goes on for long enough, is mentioned often enough, the separation of working title and project is non-trivial.
What has this got to do with the title of this post? Well, when writing books, I take the same approach. I usually don’t have a fixed title in mind when I’m writing, but I’ve got to call it something. There’s no point talking about ‘The eighth book of the Paranormology series’. It’s too long. I could call it Paranormology 8. Too impersonal. And I’m not great at remembering numbers. So all the way up to now, the book was called ‘Parkford Rise Ghost’. All the folders and files and pictures are labeled as such. Even the blog posts leading up to this one all bear the hallmarks of that name. Then it came time to actually give it a title.
The name itself isn’t such a bad one, except that it simply doesn’t fit the book itself. It would be more suited to an urban setting, rather than the industrial setting. That, and I wanted to (like Devon Cove), use a place in or around Exeter. So that name had to change, and change it did. After much work and feverish votes between myself, Wifey and Joey, we looked at the various places like Sowton, Polsloe, St Thomas and Foxhayes, we settled on ‘Nadderwater Rise Ghost‘. To lock it all in, I’ve pushed on with the front cover.
And now comes the part where I need to abandon the old name, change the folder names, file names, graphic titles, etc. and really purge Parkford from my memory. The second draft is complete and, while there are a few more bits and pieces to add in, I’m looking at clearing the third draft in a week or so. My goal is to get Nadderwater Rise Ghost published, including audiobook and hardbook, in time for the end of October. Wish me luck!