Got an email from a script editor yesterday, suggesting a new title for one of my projects. I'm still fond of my original name for the story - having the word Atrocity in my working title left nobody in any doubt about the tone - but the new title is much better. Clever, gives a call-back to classic terminology for the genre, and still sums up the essence of the story. Just wish I'd thought of it myself.
When I was a comics editor I wasn't too bad at suggesting alternate titles for other people's stories [objectivity makes you so much smarter, don't you find]. But putting a name on one of my own efforts is more of a struggle. Most of the novels I wrote for Black Flame got their titles changed along the way, for one reason or another. My Doctor Who novel Empire of Death was Metempsychosis for a while - too obscure, perhaps, but far less cheesy.
Had a debate with another script editor yesterday about character names. They have a pet peeve about writers giving their creation outlandish or unlikely monikers. Me, I don't mind it so long as the names serve a purpose. Calling a woman Jemima suggests an elevated upbringing [how many girls from sinkhole estates do you know called Jemima?]. Calling a former thief Fingers hints at his past. But calling a crime boss Caligula is probably going too far.
There's a choice to be made. Do you want your characters to be memorable and distinct from one another? How can you achieve that in a ten-page treatment when you have to introduce a large ensemble cast? In a full script characters define themselves by their actions, but in a treatment some shorthand is required. Memorable names are a brisk way to make characters pop. Calling a crime boss Caligula may be on the nose, but it's easy to remember.