If you’re an author, how important is the title of your book? For me, it’s always been at the top of my list. In the days when I was with a traditional publishing house, it wasn’t a good idea to become attached to a title. There was always the possibility it would be changed before publication, and, for the most part, the author really had no say in the matter. And, as in my first book, it was changed (which I changed back upon issuing it as an e-book).
My titles are always relevant to the storyline. Sometimes, the title inspires the entire story. I know that’s not normal, but I never said I was normal. Other things have stimulated ideas, for instance, one of my novels was created solely from my reaction to a beautiful painting that moved me.
I am a very visual person. So it makes sense to me that having a title gives me a starting point. I see it in my head, the first written words to a new story. It starts the creative process as my brain takes a short, simple title and runs rampant with thought. Scenes develop — short movies begin to play in my head. I begin to hear my characters, feel their emotions. Movement is choreographed, each step visually detailed in slow motion for me to absorb and translate into words.
Yes, all this from a title.
So, what happens if I don’t have a title? Ask B, because that’s exactly what happened with our second book. I didn’t have a definitive title. And it drove me crazy. All the time I worked on the first draft, I have persistently sent title after title to my writing partner. Nothing stuck. I didn’t give up. I NEEDED A TITLE!
Okay, I wasn’t that desperate, but I did want a working title. Last week I passed my work on to B, I was done with my first run. And still, we had no title.
So, this weekend I sat down and started brain-storming, typing all the titles that came to mind. Old ones, new ones, silly ones, anything I could think of. We had also talked about finding a poem for the start of the book and I began reading poetry. I even skimmed a translation of Beowulf hoping to find something appropriate, anything that would inspire a title. Nothing worked.
So, I tried something different … I wrote the poem myself (yes, I have dabbled in poetry, but not for many, many years). I didn’t title it, I didn’t sign it. I just sent it on to B.
Eureka! We struck gold. We have our title and we have a poem to start the book. (I’m doing a little happy dance right now.) And it’s time to start the process all over, and think about the title for the next book.
Hey B! What are we doing next?