Day 2: Titles

What’s in a name? The heart of your book, the essence of your story, a distillation of everything you hope the book will be. You don’t have to commit to a title in the beginning. In fact, the title you come up with for your book is often not the title under which it is ultimately published. My working title for The Year of Fog was Ocean Beach. My working title for No One You Know was A Beginner’s Book of Numbers. My working title for The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress was Intermittent Waves of Unusual Size and Force.  The latter was a mouthful, and I’m glad someone talked me out of it. And as Elaine Benes famously said, the working title for War and Peace was War, What Is It Good For. (We have to give Benes a pass on this one.)

So the title isn’t necessarily a commitment, but it can be a great inspiration.

When I have a book ready to go into the publisher’s catalogue, my editor and I usually go back and forth with a number of titles before we land on one that we—and the marketing department—can all agree on. Don’t think of the prospect of naming your novel as a burden. Instead, think of it as a way to broaden the horizons of your story.

 

Write 5 One-Word Titles (Examples: Lolita, Ulysses)

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Write 5 titles that come from a literary quote

(Examples: Sleep Toward Heaven, The Sound and the Fury, Our Eyes Were Watching God)

 

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Write 5 titles inspired by a song.

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Now, choose one title that sounds pretty good, and write from there.

 

[Your Title Here] is a novel about….

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