I'm working on my first young adult novel and the aspect that is tripping me up the most is the title. I have a pretty clear story map gathering in my mind, even a couple of chapter titles. But when I think of the book's title, I get completely overwhelmed plus uninspired.
Would love to hear how the title came to other writers? Did you think of it first? Did you know it all along? Or did it come later? Any tips for arriving at the right title?
Thanks in advance for your input and guidance!
In my case the title came before the story, followed quickly by the main character. Now, many moons later I have seen this same pattern in almost everything I write. If not the title, the sentence. It seems I am frozen in time until I get that out of my head. Lately... whenever I am stuck in mindless meetings or on the train to work, I write opening lines. It's a lot like playing piano scales. I'd suggested writing the story and let the naming process be more organic. It will come to you when you're walking or slicing tomatoes for dinner.
Thanks for this! I like the comparison of writing opening lines/playing piano scales...at some point your brain doesn't think as much, your fingers just do the work. Let's hope the title becomes like that. :)
I usually go through several working titles, then suddenly KABOOM, the real one hits, and I know it's perfect.
Ugh, I can't WAIT for the Kaboom moment!!
What a timely post for me. I am close to wrapping up my first novel (women's fiction) and for the life of me couold not think of a title! It was driving me crazy because I've written short stories and the title was the least of my worries. I had a bunch of ideas for my novel's name, but none that left me with that feeling that says "This is the perfect title!" Until last week. I was working on it and it came to me. THE ART OF BEING REBEKKAH. I wouldn't stress too much about the title. The more you stress and try to think of one, the more it will evade you. At least for me! Think about what your book is about, try to come with a title that way. Play with combinations of words that reflect your character's dreams and desires. Try to make your title tie into the key theme amd plot or characters. Double meanings are also appealing. I hope that helps! Good luck- let us know what you come up with.
Thanks for your words of wisdom Karoline! I think you're probably right - gotta let it simmer on the backburner instead of obsessing about it. Lord knows I have plenty of writing to do in the meantime.
You're welcome! Keep on writing, it will come to you! :)
I totally agree. Write it first--its name will become clear. I find my titles so far have come from something I wrote within the book. One character describes his state of mind as something along the lines of "It's like being under water and the only thing above the surface is your nose and you're all but drowning." So, the title became All But Drowning. (The book needs a head to toe rewrite, I just haven't started on it yet).
Likewise, I wrote a semi-dream sequence for another book and the last line was "up, up, toward the silver sky." The title became Toward the Silver Sky. Actually, I find my titles are better than my stories, but that may just be my insecurity. :)
As for the "hook" first sentence, I think the same thing applies. Write the story, then rewrite the first chapter with your "hook." It's much easier than trying to sweat the sort of clever, meaningful, candor-ridden Deep and Meaningful yet funny and entertaining and still Teaches a Lesson type of Meta Narrative we all want to accomplish!
"It's much easier than trying to sweat the sort of clever, meaningful, candor-ridden Deep and Meaningful yet funny and entertaining and still Teaches a Lesson type of Meta Narrative we all want to accomplish!" Haha, I love this! It's so true and yet clearly a tall order.
Thanks for the title advice Selene - looking forward to hearing more about your book. The titles sound fantastic!
I am late to this discussion, but I am having the same problem. I have about twenty potential titles for my novel, none of them great. Most of them awful. A novelist friend put this in perspective for me. She came up with the perfect title for her novel, and then the publisher made her change it. So I guess even if you have a great title, don't get too attached, because the marketing department might have something different in mind.
Wow! I didn't know that could happen to authors, being made to change the titles of the books. Geez. That's kind of hard to take. But like you said, I guess we can't get too attached to the title. It's great that the work has a publisher, and one who cares enough to try to make it the most marketable product possible.
So nice to search out somebody with some feeling, overwhelmed plus uninspired when it comes of thinking to a title. Well, I do different things, sometimes, I'll think a title first, or I'll just continue and then title will just cross my mind.