Monday, August 9, 2010

Titles, Titles, Titles...


Are you a writer who needs a title before you ever begin writing? I know one well-known writer who always has to have a title to write to before she can lay a word on paper. Another author writes for awhile and finds her title within the text she's created. Sometimes it takes a village to come up with a clever, inventive moniker for a written work of art. Thank God I don't need to have a title before I start to write, or I'd still be looking at that horrible, ever-white page flickering on my computer screen.

Frankly, titles befuddle me. I never seem to have an idea for a title when I start filling my blank pages with black squiggles. For example, I'm working on the second book in my Shay O'Hanlon Mystery series, and the working title is Shay Book 2. Talk about inspiring. Not.

Eventually I'll ask others to read my work and give me ideas for what they think a kick a** title might be. Often their suggestions leave something to be desired, but once in awhile they come up with IT. You know when it's THE ONE: the title that echoes your words, mirrors your intentions, and boldly illustrates the goodness contained within the pages of your work, all encompassed in just a few tiny words. I know I'd sure like to find IT a lot more often.

Rotten titles abound, and it is rare to find that one gem in the thicket of thousands of words. The best title I've ever seen is Another Bullshit Night In Suck City. That dang thing tickles me to no end. So as bad as coming up with a title might get, it'll never be as terrible as having one more crappy evening in that stinking town!




8 comments:

N. R. Williams said...

I can write without a title but finding the title is equally challenging for me. My soon to be published fantasy had three or four titles before the one it now has.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Kathleen Ernst said...

I've had it happen both ways. Sometimes I have a title right from the start, sometimes I turn in a manuscript without one.

G.M. Malliet said...

I've had it work both ways, too. My third book's title was with me from the beginning, and very much the impetus for the entire book. Of course, that is not the title it was published under.

Alice Loweecey said...

Another vote for both ways. For one book I changed the title 3 times. Force of Habit came to my immediately. Then again, since the publisher can change a title, I'm not too attached to them. :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've turned manuscripts in both ways, too. :) Sometimes the copy editing department has much better ideas than I do!

Carol Grace said...

What, you're allowed to choose your own title? Never happened to me yet, but that's fine with me. I call them like Jessie does - "Pie Book #1" etc. I'll write the book. Let the agent or editor pick the title.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Titles are like manuscripts- sometimes they shoot from your fingers like stars; other times you have to drag them through the muck to get them out.

I always start with a title, but refer to the book as Odelia #6 or Vamps #2, etc., until the final title is annointed by the publisher. Otherwise, readers can be confused when the real title comes out.

I'm about 50-50 on my working titles remaining to the end.

Darrell James said...

I struggle over titles. And, yes, I'm one who needs a title to write to, but I'm usually forced to start without one and wait for it to come along.