Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's in a Title?

If you’re like me, character names come easily. But book titles? Forget it. I struggle with a title throughout the writing process. There are some titles I hate from day one, yet can’t come up with another that’s any better. I had one book title that, in my mind, was so awful, I couldn’t bear to send it out to agents/publishers. It languished on a shelf. When I returned to it, I found that I liked manuscript as well as I had when I was writing it. I also found that I hated the title just as much as I had the first time I put it on the manuscript. I finally came up with a brilliant title while I was in Thailand last summer. I couldn’t wait to get home and give my poor manuscript a name.

Every once in a while, a title will come easily as in it was a no-brainer to name the book after the lead character. I had chosen a Native American name for my character and, when translated, I had the title for my book.

A Formula? An App?

I wish there were a formula I could use as in A+B=Title. Or, at least, an iPhone app. There’s neither a formula nor an app much to my chagrin. So I struggle on. With each story and book I write, I struggle.

Name the Book after the Writing is Done

Someone said that everyone should wait until the book is completed before naming it. I tried that. And it meant was that I fretted the entire time that I didn’t even have a working title for the book. It was as if I’d had a child and never bothered to come up with name for her.

I’ve waited to name the book through the first draft, the second draft, and the third draft. All to no avail. Still no name, and the book was ready to go to my beta readers. I was reluctant to send the manuscript out with a title of “XYZ,” even to my betas.

So What’s the Answer?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the answer on how to find a title for a manuscript.

1 comment:

  1. I've often heard pro bloggers say the opposite when giving advice about writing blog posts - write the title first and let that give form to the writing. But I guess ultimately there is no one answer; just whatever works best for you - or more specifically, just letting the matter go altogether and wait for the muse to come whispering the title in your ear. :-)