This is supposed to be my down time, my catch-up time. I’m supposed to finish with my semester busypaper work and get back to the middle grade novel. I need to get that sucker in line so that I can seriously start thinking about–
Scratch that. Gang way! New idea comin’ through!
Yup, the brain seriously hijacked me this afternoon and got to thinking about a whole new YA novel concerning a couple of doofuses who decide to… well, I never was too comfortable talking about things before they were written. I think it’s a really strong idea but I seriously need to finish one thing before pressing on with another. Seriously. Like I think my wife will go out and purchase a new Prius simply so she can use it to run me down if I don’t finish at least the middle grade novel I started this semester.
One thing I will talk about is titles. No matter how good an idea is, it’s never set to go until I have an appropriate title. If the title doesn’t work then I’ll never be able to focus on the the writing. Why? Because titles matter. They matter the same way a character’s name matters, the way smaller animals on the food chain need to know who the predators are matters.
Yes, it may be psychological, but titles serve as talismans to me. And so for this new YA novel I have it in my head that the title needs to be so absurd that it only has meaning within the context of the book, and yet echoes everything within. I’m thinking it needs to be a one-word title (just intuition, nothing more), either a piece of slang or the nickname of one of the characters. It’s about a couple of teen boys and I’m seriously thinking of having them swear like sailors, only to replace all their swear words with unexplained absurdities.
“Bite the lava, mon friar!”
And naturally, being boys, they would insult each other by making fun of each other’s names. Kids like to do that. In second grade we used to howl that there was a professional football player named Dick Butkus (we pronounced he last syllable as ‘kiss’). And our teacher’s name was Miss Bilkis. And if they got married she could be Mrs. Dick Bilkis-Butkis.
In a flash (not necessarily a brilliant one) I thought that one of these teen doofuses needed to have a last name that could be plundered, something like Fortinbras which would allow for many different bendings. But then there’s all the connotation with Hamlet, and I didn’t want to go there (see how my brain hijacks my ability to focus?), so then I thought Furtenbach.
Literally, from the German, fords the brook. Now maybe we’re getting somewhere.
So this doofus has a buddy and what does he call him? Fartinduck. Yeah, boy humor. Could that be the title of the book? Maybe if I made it less obvious, like Fartenduq? That’ll fool a lot of people.
So then later I’m describing all this to my eldest daughter and talking about how funny it would be for people to go into the store to ask for the book without realizing what the title means until the ask for it and say it out loud for the first time. “You got a copy of that book Fartin… oh.” Reminds me of when here was this indie movie out called Spanking the Monkey and just saying the title made people uncomfortable. Best of all, I think I must have called Moviefone a couple times a week to hear that guy say
Your selection… Spanking the Monkey… is now playing at…
because he really put some gusto into the way he said it. The memory of it cracks me up to this very day. What is that, 14 years now? Sheesh!
So, what got me started here? Oh, right, the meandering of my accursed brain. well, plenty of time to work on some more nicknames and insults while I’m finishing up that middle grader over there. Just, right over there.
Any day now.