February 25th, 2010


Titles, What Is My Title?

During my weekly read-up on a Border’s Book suggestion for me I did my typical. Read the blurb for this week’s spotlighted book: Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Went to his webpage (www.chriscleave.com) and got the nitty-gritty on the author and the book. Then I went to Good Reads and added yet another book to my ever growing list. Sigh. Afterward, I kept thinking about something the author said. That’s not unusual. I always think about things I read on author’s pages. The thought that lingered with me made me examine my bookshelf and the words in my mind. What was I looking for? Titles. Chris Cleave talked about the two different titles for his book: Little Bee for the U.S. and in the U.K. they will see On The Other Hand. He stated he loved both titles. The book is about Bee’s journey, experiences. Thus, the title is fitting, perfect. On the Other Hand, captures the dichotomy of the book. The story has two women’s perspectives on life.


I looked at my bookshelf, scrutinizing the titles. Middlesex is the name of the street the family lives on in the book, but it is also symbolic for the gender identity issue in the book. To Kill A Mockingbird was a quote from the book, a VERY symbolic quote from the book. As was the title for Twilight (no eye rolling). Wicked Lovely series uses oxymorons (Wicked Lovely, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows . . .). I could go on for pages, but I won’t. I know. You are sighing with relief. J


As a newbie writer, generating titles is a tricky (and frustrating) thing. I know a lot of you out there struggle with it. My latest book, The Collector, the title just appeared in my mind. It fits the story. It is symbolic. My first story, The Diyari Chronicles . . . jeez, I had the book written before a name came to me. As I was thinking about the DC title, I knew from a reader's perspective that titles send a message to the reader. They are a snapshot of your story. I don’t know if DC’s title is the best snapshot. If an agent or publisher ever sees it, I’m sure it will be discussed.


I’m sure the discussion will involve the mood of the book. Is there a quote that captures the message? Is there a symbol in the book that can be used? Is there one word that tells the reader what to expect? What jumps from the page? And in those answers a title will emerge. So if you are struggling, scrutinize your bookshelf. Then think about your story. What words create the best picture for your story.



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