Write On, Wednesday: What’s in a Title

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By Leslie Lindsay Ireland 2014 171

The manuscript is finished. It’s actually not too terribly rough, either. Now it just needs a title. You’d think titles would be easy-peasy, but they are not.

Here’s why:

You have to summarize everything that happens in–oh 100,000 words–into a few words (about four). No pressure, right?

 You also don’t want to be so overt about it, in that all literary ‘secrets’ are given away.

And God forbidden the title is already “taken.”

Okay, you’re technically “safe” on that–titles aren’t copywrited. But who wants 8 books called WAR & PEACE?

Something pithy would be nice.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep for  obsessing thinking ruminating perseverating. I tossed and turned. I thought of every teacher who taught 4th grade and then 5th grade at my elementary school 30 years ago. That got me to sleep. But I woke up to pee around 2 a.m. and  guess what I was thinking about?

Here’s some other advice I’ve gleaned of late, “We talked a lot about branding at [a local chapter meeting], and you really want to think about what kind of writer you want to be (the other books you hope to write), your genre, even the look of your covers.”

Again. No pressure.

Here’s what else I know about titles: they often change. Sure, what you slap on your manuscript may be absolutely beautiful and you could be completely in love with it. Swooning, even and then your agent cringes. Or your editor does. Or the art department can’t think of a suitable cover. Or sales/marketing know the chosen title will sicken and not intrigue the average consumer. So they tinker with the words and present a whole new alternative. At that point, you shrug and go along with it.

But, on the other hand, you don’t want something dull, dorky, or too close to something out that is “already out there.”

Finally, after hours of deliberation (seriously–I did some alone thinking on and off during the day and then picked my hubby’s brain–and crit partner’s brain “after hours”), my poor, exasperated other half said, “Hon, just pick something and slap it on the manuscript already.” He squeezed out a faint, “I love you” at the end of his mini tirade.

So I did. I  chose a title and plugged it into the header of the manuscript. It looks pretty good. I’ll sit with that for awhile.

At least till tonight when I try to sleep. And then I just may have to recall all of the 1st and 2nd grade teachers from my youth. All 8 of them.

Write on, Wednesday!

 

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