Monday, July 23, 2012

Title Slump

I don't get those people who choose a name for their baby after he is born. Like they wait to see who he really is, read some semblance of personality in him, or expect a divine impression about the matter. I'm not against it, I just don't get it. Maybe it's the OCD in me, but I have four kids and we had all of their names picked out long before they were born. We didn't know what the sex of the first would be, but we at least had a boy and girl name at the ready.

I'm the same way with my books. I had a title ready for each early on in my drafting. This meant I could call it something besides That YA Kinda Fantasy Book But Historical And Romance Too as I was writing it or explaining it to someone. I know titles are liable to change once sold for marketing reasons, and I'm not against that. I just don't know how it's possible to not have a name for my baby as she's growing up on that computer. Which is why I'm completely stumped in my current WIP because it doesn't have a title and it's driving me crazy.  It's not vital to the process of writing the story, so why does it disturb me so much?

Solution? Give that baby a name. And maybe you can help. Here are the titles of my books thus far and how/why I chose them.

A SINGLE FEATHER: I've got a chief who wears a feather cape and can transform into a rare bird, and there's also a sketchy bird catcher in the book--lots of feather symbolism in the novel.

UNFOLD ME: This one's about a girl with a tragic past that unfolds as the story goes. So, obviously.

KOA'S PASSAGE: Koa goes on a moon-goddess finding mission, so I basically thought of words for journey, quest, adventure, etc. I thought passage sounded good with his name.

REMAKE: Although I've heard the one word title thing is sooo last year, I still think this one works for a girl who plans to be Remade into what ever she chooses, including a new gender.

WHO KNEW THE BRITS COULD KISS: Okay, not really. But this is the one I'm struggling with. I. Have. Nothing. Thanks to Robin for her witty suggestion, though. :) It's a love story between a British sailor and daughter of a chief in Hawaii in the 1770's (and is part autobiographical...it's about my 4th great grandparents). There's also war and navigation themes in the story.

Tell me, how do you title your books? Before, during, or after it's written? Do you choose lines from your book? Do you like a title specific to your story or prefer something catchy/beautiful whether it's directly related to your novel or not?

I'd also love to know the titles of your books--maybe I'll be inspired. And bonus points if you can title my book for me too. :)

**I'll be on a two-week blogging break...I'm off to the beach in sunny Florida. Be jealous, I'll allow it. But I'll be back tanned, refreshed, and ready for more blogging brilliance. I will have internet access while I'm gone so I'll be tuning in to everyone else's brilliance despite my absence.**

33 comments:

Rachel said...

I've had my titles on all three of my books before, or when I started writing them. After a rewrite of my first novel though, I changed the title because the original was way too general and common, and the other books in the same genre and market had long, sad titles. So now it's called Until We Meet Again. It's about a sixteen year old Jewish refugee who has fled Germany and resides in England where she's working the system to get her family to join her--to safety.

My 2nd ms is Dark Waters. It's about a folkloric female creature whose kind relies on water to live and whose urges (thanks to her fore-mothers) are dark and murderous.

My 3rd ms is called Shattered Choices. Every choice the mc makes is played out within the tiny mirrors of a disco looking ball. When she makes a decision that isn't in her ball, she shatters the ball and her future.

Hope that helps! And have a great time in FL!!!!

Tracey Joseph said...

I have trouble titling my work as well sometimes. I usually end up changing the title of whatever SNI I'm working on at least twice.

My first MS is titled Summer Spell because it takes place during the summer during a drought.

My second MS is titled Never a Happy Ending. I changed the title of this novel at least five times, and finally settled on this one. It's about a 16-year-old girl who loses her father, and although things sort of work out in the end. They also sort of don't.

My current WIP is currently being called Bluer Than Blue because my main character is very into blues music, and also suffers some heartbreak herself.

Coming up with a good title is very hard.

Tobi Summers said...

Of all the things I find difficult in writing, coming up with a title is tied with synopsis for the hardest. I usually give my books a one or two word working title so I can refer to them as something other than, "You know, that book," but otherwise, I wait to title until the end. And then I pray like mad that one of my beta readers will come up with it.

ilima said...

Rachel-Ooh. I love Dark Waters. And all those titles sound fantastic based on the stories.

Tracey-I really like Summer Spell. And I agree, it's so hard!

Tobi-I hate writing a synopsis! Right now I'm hoping one of my CP's comes up with a brilliant title for me too because I'm at a complete loss.

Cassie Mae said...

Oh, I know how it is. Titles are so stinkin' hard! I'll usually come up with the title right when I come up with the premise, and they're usually the same thing, lol. ex: How to Date a Nerd, Falling for the Funny Fat Friend, King Sized Beds and Happy Trails.

See, I'm not so good at it, lol.

Jenilyn Collings said...

Titles are hard. Sometimes I have them before I start, but more often than not, I don't. Right now I'm trying to come up with a new title for Slipperage. I think it fits the story, but I've also gotten feedback that it's confusing. At least until I explain it and then they get it, but a title you have to explain? It doesn't work so well.

I have a notebook next to my computer and every time I think of a possible title for it (good or not) I write it down. It's not an overnight process, but I have two titles now that I like and I'm trying to decide between (they're #43 and #51 on my list of possible titles). For me, trying to force myself to come up with a title dries up all creativity. Keeping it in the back of my head and getting down all the ideas (and getting the bad ones out of the way) helps me a lot.

Good luck!

jaybird said...

I hope you have an excellent vacation.

I don't quite understand those that do not name their children until after their born either, although I had to throw out all my awesome boy names I picked, and just focus on the girls :)

Don't worry, the title will come to you. Probably when your resting on the beach, trying to relax and NOT thinking about it. LOL

ilima said...

Cassie-I love those titles! And based on your method, maybe I should keep "Who Knew The Brits Could Kiss". :)

Jeni-That's a great idea. I think I need to do that because the titles of your books are amazing. Including Slipperage. You know I love that book so much. But seriously, how many working titles do you have on that list? Wow.

Jaybird-Thanks! Hopefully I won't see supermodels on the beach like in Jersey. That will NOT be welcome inspiration for my book. :)

Suzi said...

Sometimes they come right away. Sometimes not.

A few of my current ones:

Frosty. (The main character has a hard time opening up to friendship/love)

The Proper Way to Say Goodbye. (The mc dealing with her brother's suicide and her own sexuality.)

Beyond the Wake. Happens at a lake, so wake refers to the wake of a boat. Ties into the story.

I've always wondered where Hawaiians go to vacation. I mean, you are in the ultimate vacation spot. :) Enjoy your time away.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Sometimes names are really hard to come up with. That would be my excuse for putting it off.

Sherri Lackey said...

I seldom stick with the first title I come up with, but I do like to at least have a tentative title when I begin to write. My current WIP began as Sandor's Daughter and then later on I changed it to: The Vrykolakas Deviation.

Emily R. King said...

I'm one of those people who waits until the end... :)

Don't judge me!

BTW, you pick brilliant titles. I guess I don't have whatever gene you have that makes you a "Title Picker."

ilima said...

Suzi-Ha. I think most from Hawaii go to Disneyland or Vegas, though growing up we couldn't afford either and just camped at the beach every year. I don't live in Hawaii anymore, though I visit lots cause my family is all there. I'm just excited for some beach time!

Michael-Good excuse!

Sherri-Those are both great titles. I wish I could come up with something half as amazing, at least for now.

Emily-How could you? Haha. I'm not sure I'd want to be known as a "Title Picker". Doesn't sound very hygienic. Lol.

Kathryn Purdie said...

I feel like I have to have a title SOON...like one or two chapters in to writing my story...or even before. So I can feel your frustration. I'd still suggest rummaging through old poetry of that era, with navigational or island-y themes (with love, of course), and see what inspires you. I agree with jaybird, though, that it'll probably just pop in your head at the beach or something. :-)

Robin said...

As someone who benefited from CP's titling my book I'm doing what I can:)

My first book-The Golden Wood, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast shortened from Mara and the Golden Wood as I was writing it.

My 2nd book-working title The Girl Who Could See for months after the 1st draft, (oh the agony of sucktastic) was renamed Lovesense by my awesome CP's!!!!! Thanks for your help with that one.

And my 3rd book's title came straight from my 8 year-old. Life is a Tongue Twister. He said it and I had to write that book. The fact that it brought another idea I had cooking on the back burner into clarity was the icing on the cake:)

Sea of Stars
A Long Way to Love
Finding True North
Currents of Love
Starry Sea
Star Sea (rhymes with Darcy and makes me grin)

Here's to adding more to that list-are you reaching Jeni's 50 plus ideas yet?

Martin Willoughby said...

I usually have a working title for the book, but it's always just that until I find a better one.

Short stories are much easier to name as the title sums up the story, but with a novel you have distill it down to a few words.

Beth said...

So jealous. But as for the title, I used to start with one thing and often change it. Now I call the book by it's concept like i'm writing about a military kid right now. Until I knew the title, I just called it MB (military brat). Now it has a title.

Fiona said...

Like you I tend to choose the titles early. I don't like leaving it as 'untitled' - it needs to have an essence, it needs to be named. I always say that my titles are subject to change, but then they end up growing on me and I keep them... probably not the best idea, but at least none of my works are called 'untitled'!

Your premise sounds really interesting. Perhaps something like 'Navigate Me', seeing as it's about two people coming together, finding love, and the fact that one of the main characters is a sailor. Just an idea. Whatever you decide, good luck with it, Ilima! I hope you find that perfect title soon.

E.D. said...

Ideally, I like to choose the title early on, but it does not necessarily work that way for me. For my WiP, now in its final draft, I chose something symbolic that relates to one part of the book - I came up with it when I was on the 3rd draft. In The Shadow of Honey Locusts.

Great post, by the way.

Angela Cothran said...

I'm terrible at titles too so I feel your pain. Sometimes it is good to get a bunch of friends who have read your book and just brain storm. Good luck. Books are harder to name than children.

David P. King said...

Unfold me ... what a great title! I have to come up with my titles before I can even start the book. I like to center the story around it rather than slap it on for title's sake. :)

ilima said...

Katie-Maybe at the beach I'll see "Stars in the Sand"? :)

Robin-We are both on the same track with my titles. And all three of yours are amazing. I love that your son named #3.

Martin-I have a hard time with titling short stories too. So much pressure.

Beth-That's a good idea. I may need to do that.

Fiona-"It needs to have an essence"--I totally agree.

E.D.-I LOVE that title. I want mine to sound like that. Beautiful.

Angie-I'm begging my CP's at the moment to help me. It is hard.

David-Thanks. That's usually how I am too, the title means so much. That's why I'm going cuckoo right now.

Jenny Morris said...

Title's kill me. LOL. I bugged Kelley to DEATH with my suggestions because I couldn't stand not having a name. We still call it ChaLu most of the time. LOL. I LOVE the title REMAKE, so you can't change that one. ;0) And I have NO clue what you should name the one your struggling with.

Mark Murata said...

I'll have to get help from my future agent or editor. My titles get questionable looks.

ilima said...

Jenny-I like ChaLu. I can't believe how many people are like me regarding this title thing. And I'm glad you like Remake.

Mark-Hmm. You've got me curious now.

Kelley Lynn said...

Ilima! SO jealous! Have a great trip!

Titles, hmm.... I guess i just start writing a story and wait for them to come to me.

Fraction of Stone (YA Fantasy). Main premise, a stone is broken and they must collect the pieces. haha. 'Fraction' also refers to the fraction of the world.

The Cricket Project (YA Science Fiction). Wanted it to sound Sci-fy. And the theme is 'When you Wish Upon a Star'... but I wanted to stay away from the word 'wish'. Too... fluffy. So I thought, Jiminy Cricket! Cricket Project. haha

And, like Jen said, Already There. THAT was the toughest. I'm really happy with it though. THough it will always be ChaLu :) haha

Crystal said...

That's funny. When my first son was born, we actually waited to see him when he was born in order to name him. My husband wanted him to have his name.. I wanted him to be a Christopher Jeremiah. When the nurse asked me what his name was, I looked at our son and noticed he had cute little ears just like his daddy and he looked like a little toughman at the time. I then looked at his father and I told the nurse,"It's going to be Bobby Lee Hobbs the third!" He didn't look like a Christopher or a Jeremiah. But then when my other two boys were born, I already had their names picked out.

When I title my poetry or my short stories, I usually go with a favorite line or word in the writing or I'll pick something that matches what I'm talking about. But then again, I'm a little OCD when I come to the titles!

I'm your newest follower by the way. I love your layour ad the black background with the various pink and white flowers! It's very cute and thank you for following me by the way! Take care!

Heather Murphy said...

Thanks for following me. Maybe if you wait until you have finished your book, you could come up with a title that captures the "feel" of the direction you take it???
Have fun at the beach. I live close to the FL beaches myself and haven't gone this year. very sad!

ilima said...

Kelley-I've known your titles for so long, but it's so neat to find out the reasoning behind them. Thanks for sharing.

Crystal-That's a wonderful story about your sons. My mom wanted a jr. but my dad never did. With the birth of their last son, my mom named him after my dad while he was out of the room. Haha. I love that you were both able to get what you wanted. Eventually. :) Thanks for the follow.

Heather-I think waiting would be best, but I'm just too dang impatient. We'll see. I may not have a choice if I can't come up with anything. Thanks for the follow!

Leigh Covington said...

Awesome titles! I'm the same as you - my babies need a name. I realize there is the possibility of them changing, but I need something to call them! :D

ilima said...

Leigh-I'm so glad I'm not alone.

David P. King said...

Congrats, Ilima! You won in my giveaway. Come claim your prize! :)

Civil War Horror (Sean McLachlan) said...

I thought of the title for my Civil War novel A FINE LIKENESS early on because of a couple of factors. The first is that the Confederate guerrilla looks remarkably like the dead son of his Union antagonist, and also because photography plays a key role in the plot.
The sequel is less obvious. I don't have a title for that even though I'm two-thirds through the first draft. I don't find that it's hampering my writing but I am getting annoyed that I'm drawing a complete blank on a title!