Monday, June 14, 2010

What's in a title?

I'm asking myself this question right now. I have a work in progress that has no name, aside from a descriptor that I've shortened to three initials I use when naming the file and even when referring to it in emails and chats.

I know a title is important, and frankly, I feel a little lost that I haven't thought of one yet. A title draws your reader in; it makes them curious enough to read the copy, which hopefully makes them curious enough to read the book. It's your first impression as a writer, and I don't know why I can't think of one for this particular book.

The rest of my books-- even some unwritten ones-- have just seemed to populate fully-formed in my head, complete with titles. Usually snappy one- or two-word ones. Which might be why I'm having trouble-- this title has to be at least a few words. Something cute and clever and with a hint of the quirkiness within-- oh, and it has to have something to do with death.

Perhaps it's because this is my first try at a good old fashioned mystery (despite having teethed myself on Agatha Christie and the stories of Sherlock Holmes), but I just can't seem to find what to call this one.

I know that the title will probably change anyway, but I don't want to use my placeholder because that just screams, "I'm lazy and couldn't think of anything good." Which I'm not. I just . . . can't think of anything good.


I have faith it will come, but maybe the book needs to be finished first.

Have you ever struggled to name a project? Is there some underlying psychosis at work here?

P.S.-- don't forget to go vote in our little experiment!


Amalia Dillin said...

I'm terrible with titles the majority of the time. In fact, I hate the title of one of my books so much that I don't ever refer to it that way unless I have no other choice (Query Letter) and the rest of the time I call it by the name of it's MC. But. I have no idea what else to call it-- and I think the title fits as well as anything would. Let's just say that if it ever sells, and the publisher wants to change the title, I won't shed any tears.

Amalia Dillin said...

ahem. that should be its MC, not it's MC. *shame*

Unknown said...

I am horrendous with titles. In otherwords none of my works actually have one. Not a one.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

My titles have either come to me in a moment of (temporary) brilliance very early in the project, or never come at all. So sad. I struggled endlessly with my MG novel title, and I still don't like it. I'm not sure if it's related to the MS at all. :)

Good luck with yours!

Nicole said...

I ask my partner and my friend Sian. Glenn came up with my title in 2secs and Siany came up with my blog title 'Damsel in a Dirty Dress' in an instant. Sometimes we as writers really do overthink it :)

Stephanie Damore said...

Yeah, I still haven't come up with a good title for my first MS and I'm usually good with titles!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Okay, so I think I might have it easier here with historical fiction. If the book is about a famous person (which mine are), the title tends to be their name, maybe with something added. Or maybe not.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I haven't run into problems with titles yet, so I can't help you out much here. Keep at it, though. I'm sure it will come to you. :)

Adam Heine said...

"Have you ever struggled to name a project?

Every time. Working titles are usually easier for me. Air Pirates, Ninja Kid, Stormworld... But they're usually too general to make a good book title. (Except maybe Stormworld. I might keep that one.)

Joshua McCune said...

Usually my title comes first and my story evolves from there. My titles are always one thing I've felt comfortable with.

Matthew Delman said...

I go through several titles with each project, usually until I find out that either sounds cool or resonates with the context of the story.

"Son of Magic" came about because the hero is sometimes referred to as Unicorn-child (the Unicorn is the symbol of that world's God of Magic), and it was an easy leap to Son of Magic from there.

"Callarion at Night" evolved from the working title "Moriah, Child of the Rowan" because I was trying to figure out a catchy title for the story based on the themes. There's a letter in a previous version of the story where Moriah's mother asks her to "be the light." So I figured that meant the city was in darkness. Since darkness = night in my head, I went with that.

You'll come up with a good title, no worries. And something creative too!

L. T. Host said...

Wow; I'm amazed at how many of us have trouble with titles! As usual, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

Thanks for all the suggestions and support, everyone.