Titles are hard. They’re also mean-spirited, holding my writing hostage until I’ve actually settled on a name for my next book.

Let me explain. As a writer, I’m more of a “pantser” than a “plotter.” I don’t work from detailed drafts or outlines, but I do use a short synopsis and hand-written notes to assist me with character introduction, narrative development, plotting and sub-plotting. I have a rough storyline and characters in mind for the next Salem Matthews novel, but I can’t  polish the synopsis, much less move forward with the writing, until I have a title.

Why don’t I just write the story and pick a title later? First of all, that’s not how I work. I’m a methodical and systematic person. The title comes at the beginning. The other problem is that I like to reinforce the title by tying it into the story in some way.

So, what’s so hard about coming up with a title? Oh, let me count the ways.

1. It has to capture the story in a couple of words. I prefer titles with one or two words, three at the most. I don’t want a long title that will clutter the cover of the book or be hard for the reader to remember.

2. It has to be a title that can be visually emphasized with good cover art.

3. It has to be unique, or as close to unique as possible. I can’t tell you how many potential titles I’ve rejected because there are already so many books on Amazon with the same name. I’m already lost in the shuffle – I have no desire to contribute to that problem.

The good news is that I’m getting close. I expect to have my title and completed synopsis soon. It’s all part of the process. I’ll keep you posted.