A Book by Any Other Name

Do you ever pick up a book and read the back cover, simply because you liked its title?

Can you judge a book by the cover, or, in this case, the title?

Can a title make or break a book? I often think so. That’s why it seems so important for me to choose just the right one for mine.

I’m pretty satisfied with “Autumn in Vermont” for the name of my first novel still in editing stage. However, my second manuscript, which is a work in progress, is–I gotta say it–another story.

I’m only about halfway through my first draft, yet I feel a need to “name” it, at least temporarily, until I find out what it will become in the end. Kind of like giving your unborn child an in-utero nickname like “the Alien”, or “Jellybean.” (For the record, I never felt compelled to call my own children anything other than “the baby.” As far as my writing goes, “the book” just doesn’t do it for me.)

For my drafting purposes, I’ve temporarily been using “Sawyer’s Bend” because that’s the name of the town around which the story centers. It’s serving me well enough now, but I’m not resigned to it for the long haul, by any means. In fact, I can see this novel growing into a sequel or even a trilogy, and then “Sawyer’s Bend” would no longer fit.

Still, part of me wishes I could have enough foresight to give it a more permanent name while I’m still in the midst of creating it, or at least some ideas. I’m coming up with nothing.

Perhaps that’s the wrong line of thinking, though. Maybe going into it with a title stuck in my head now would shape my story into something it was never meant to be in the first place. It would be like stubbornly sticking to the name “Sue” after finding out you had a ten pound baby boy. Sure, it could make a catchy line in a country song, but how will it shape his future?

You’d have to be open to change somewhere along the way.

What about other writers out there? Do you have a title in mind when you start drafting a new book? How often do you stick with the same one when it’s all said and done? I’m curious, so please post your comments here.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Book by Any Other Name

  1. Hello, Christine!!

    Stopped by your blog because I saw you on Twitter! I’m enjoying it!! 😀

    I most definitely have a title in mind when I writer my books. I usually start with a very bad working title to start out with, and I’ll use the novel I’m currently writing as an example: The Wizard and Dragon story. It’s a fantasy romance that takes place in pre-history earth, kinda like Lord of the Rings does, and the idea came from a dream I had about…you guessed it, wizards and dragons.

    I form a title after I’ve come to know the story and it takes more shape. What I’ve found out, however, is NOT to get attached to my titles. I LOVE to title my books with double entendres. In this example, “Captive Heart” speaks to the hero and heroine’s love for each other, but also the hero’s sister’s name is Cora, meaning “heart” and she is the Draconic Heart captured to control the dragon clan the brother and sister are bound to. This means means putting a lot of heart and soul into my titles…only to find out my publisher already has a book on their shelves similar to my title and they’re going to make me change mine! They already have a book titled “Captive Hearts”.

    Such is the woe of writers…we don’t get the final say in our titles unless we have the clout to pick any publisher willing to publish our work OR we’re self-publishing. So, with that said, the new title is “War of the Hearts” – which is still a double entendre: The War of the Hearts is the age in which they’re in AND both the hero and heroine are struggling over their attraction to each other in their forbidden love. Eh, I like the other one better, but this works, too.

    That’s my two pence…
    Arial Burnz
    (aka Gina Henderson)

  2. Christine Rice

    Thanks for your insight. It’s interesting to know that no matter what title I choose, it may be changed in the end. I need to focus my efforts elsewhere, like the story, and trust that everything else will fall into place!

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