Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monday's Meanderings: Thoughts on Titles

Today I was reading something totally unrelated to writing, and certainly to titles, when one popped into my head: Dead Girl Walking. Where in the world did that come from? It sounds intriguing. It could be a mystery, it could even be historical...well, depending. But I haven't started a new novel yet, althought I have bits and pieces of 3 new ones to begin seriously working on, yet I don't see that particular title as being very appealing to any one of the 3.

So where do good titles come from? My historical novel, from day one, was titled "Escape On The Train Without Tracks." That title held for 3 years. Then one day, recently, as I was working on an edit, I suddenly thought...The Freedom Thief. It seemed perfect, and that is the title under which I'm submitting it. Yet I have no idea where it came from.

My first novel, T he Year of the Scream or Why I Hate Cheerleading, Chocolate, and Celine Carroll,  was one where the title came to me after only writing a few pages. At the time, I wasn't even sure what part "Celine Carroll" was going to play, or even if she was going to be a major character. But it seemed to fit from the very first chapter, and I've never changed it. I'm submitting the novel under that title, and unless the editor wants it changed, that's what it will be.

Dead Girl Walking: I can't get it out of my head. And as I've pondered on it, I have realized that maybe...just maybe...this is the title for the story about Gabriela...the character who woke me up one early...very early...morning last week. Maybe...Gabriela is Dead Girl Walking.

Where do you get your ideas for your titles? Do they suddenly pop into your head for no reason, or do you take your time, and let the title slowly immerge from the storyline? Do your titles come from something you've read, a newspaper headline that, with a little tweaking, seems to be "just perfect" for that new story? Or do they sneak up on you, a little at a time, sometimes surprising you? And once you decide upon a title, do you ever change it on your own, or because someone says the title doesn't fit the story? Think about it!

Until next time,
That's a wrap.


  1. Most of the times the titles I come up with are the things that will inspire the story. However, if I come up with a story idea all on my own, I have the hardest time thinking of titles. Weird, huh?

    Dead Girl Walking does sound intriguing. Can't wait to hear what that turns out to be!

  2. Titles are tricky, aren't they? I named my novel "Ebenezer's Locker" before I even knew what was in the locker! I just wanted it to be a ghost story (Ebenezer as in A Christmas Carol) and take place at a middle school (hence the locker).

    My novel "Trouble at the Scriptorium" was named by survey. I just couldn't decide, so I wrote down ten titles and let people vote.

    And then there's "Green Light Delivery." The title for that, all the way through its writing, was "A Carter's Fate," which is the topic of the novel. But when I found a publisher who said "I'm in love with this book but we need to change the title to something more noir/pulp if you want a contract," then I felt I had no choice but give up my beloved title.

  3. Titles are my least favorite thing. My agent actually came up with a title for my YA novel. She is great with titles, and I just couldn't come up with anything that stood out. I have named many other novels though. This one just stumped me. I usually try to take one key word or idea from the book and base my title around it. I like Dead Girl Walking.

  4. Sometimes I have a "working title" and change it when the piece is finished. Sometimes the title comes first, sometimes it's from something within the story.

    You never know when or where a title will come from.

  5. Cat, that's kind of the way I feel about Dead Girl Walking...that maybe the title is going to inspire the story. I'm still in the dark about that one!

  6. Anne, leaving a title up to a survey from other people? That's an intriguing idea, something I've never thought of! But I like the title they came up with, and also Green Light Delivery. That sounds mysterious!

  7. Kelly, I always seem to come up with a title soon after I start writing, eithr a story or a novel, but often they change by the time I submit something. Sometimes, like you, I just can't think of one I really like and that is appropriate for the story. I have two to start working on seriously after the holidays, and know that both titles will change somewhere down the road.

  8. You're right, Rick, titles seem to come from everywhere or out of nowhere. I heard an editor say once that he had never received a manuscript that he was going to publish, and liked the author's title. That's a little daunting!