Monday, July 13, 2015

The Battle for a Title

Image result for title images

Anyone who knows me on FaceBook will know that I have been whining and complaining about my inability to title my latest work. This doesn't happen to me very often, but when I honestly cannot come up with a title, I drive myself (and everyone around me) just a little insane. If you don't write stories or books yourself, you may not realize what a piece of work titling your stories can be.

For one thing, it has to catch the reader. Or at least, it would have to catch me as a reader if I were to see it for the first time. Some writers can get away with one-word titles (I tried that in the first Bridgeton Park Cemetery Book: more on that later) and if the word is catchy enough, then the goal has been reached. I would have picked up a book called Twilight (buying and reading it is another matter), but I would always reach for one that has a distinct ring to it. Something titled "Revenant" would get my attention. So would "Ghostly," "Shadow/s", or "Banshee." I would at least read the blurb before I decided "yea" or "nay." 

And that is what this writer is looking for: the kind of thing that will at least get a potential reader to check out my work. And believe me, I have been all over the map, not to mention the Dictionary of Quotations, trying to figure this out. I have a title in my head and I am afraid to run it past my beta readers for fear of being laughed out of the room. But it won't go away.

Two word titles, lots of them including the article "The" for one of those words, are terrific. The Stand. The Grave. The Exorcist. Would that I could come up with something like that, but nothing in my book even comes close to allowing a two-word title. So I continue to try out ideas, wincing a little every time I toss another one into the stack of unusable attempts. It's both funny and frustrating.

The other problem with my current work is that if I use the more obvious titles suggested by the tale itself, I am in danger of giving away the whole story and maybe even the fun little twist at the end. At least, I think there's a fun little twist at the end. I'm sure you'll all let me know if you figured things out before you got there, but for now, I'm hoping the ending is clever enough to elude until the resolution.

As for my foray into one-word titles such as Haunted, the first BPC book, all you need to do is look up that title on Amazon to see why that choice might not have been the best, even if it suited the work. So there's another consideration as I try to come up with a good name for yet another paranormal tale.

Sigh. Here I sit in my office, playing with words, writing lists of "scary" concepts (apparition, specter, dark, unearthly, etc...) and knowing that in the end, I need to wait for my muse to get back from her most recent trip, apparently off of the planet entirely. I hope she comes back soon. I need to get this information over to my artist so that she can design the title into the picture that she is composing to grace the cover of this book. (She's really good, isn't she? Her name is Carmen Elliott and I'm lucky enough to have her as both a friend and a colleague.)

All of this aside, I am hoping the light bulb turns on very soon. Sitting in the title desert sifting through dreck and sand is very draining!


  1. I hope a title comes to you soon! What do your first readers think of possible title names? Your editor? I can't imagine trying to name something you're so close to.

  2. Sometimes titles are built into the story, like Dead Voices. Jim and I randomly came up with a title that won't blow the punchline of the book. It's not titled "Drawing Vengeance."

  3. Sigh. Typo. It IS titled "Drawing Vengeance." Dang gremlins in cyberspace...