Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, June 07, 2018

June IWSG: Characters or Titles?

This month, the Insecure Writer's Study Group asks which is easier: coming up with the title for your current book or naming those characters?

For me, titles seem to well up like a line of poetry. Even a temporary title will ultimately morph into something that resonates with the sub-theme. For example, readers have begun to refer to my trilogy as that 'stones' trilogy. That was entirely accidental, though I did want a key word to hold the linked (but OK to read alone) stories together.

Standing Stones is set in the Orkney Islands, Scotland (1840's). We visited the Neolithic Stones of Stenness on the Mainland of Orkney, and I could actually touch those cold stones and imagine long-ago lovers who plighted their troth there. My characters found solace in a similar imaginary circle of stones as they struggled with evictions brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

Stones of Stenness, Mainland, Orkney (Camp)
In Years of Stone, Mac McDonnell is transported to a penal colony in the 1840's, Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania, Australia. As many were, Mac was assigned to break up stones, as he struggled to survive. Today, that convict legacy is respected rather than hidden.

In Rivers of Stone, Cat McDonnell, disguised as a boy, crosses Canada in the 1840's to the Great Nor'West in search of her husband. Living in the Northwest with family on the east coast, I've often traveled and hiked across Canada and have great respect for the wilderness Cat encountered during the fur trade era.

Johnston Canyon, Banff, Canada (Camp)
These titles didn't emerge linked together in the beginning, but each one fits together, perhaps like a carved stone. Hopefully these stories will endure and tell how we struggle to achieve our dreams, despite sometimes overwhelming obstacles.

Naming characters is somewhat different. If I'm really stuck, street names and lists of baby names online are helpful sources. Otherwise, those darn names shift around until one sticks. For example, my current hero in The Seventh Tapestry has gone through four name changes -- and I'm not happy yet. Thank goodness for that search and replace feature!

Luckily, IWSG didn't ask about gender changes.

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the team at the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This month's co-hosts are: Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!  Check out what others have written HERE and may your reading, writing, revising, and editing go well!