Titles matter. A lot. Every writer knows this, and so does every publisher, producer and reader. Titles draw us in or turn us off; titles are clear or disastrously muddled; titles stick with us or slide off our brains without leaving a trace.
Last night, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a mini-writing workshop, of sorts, with the editor, author and agent Betsy Lerner
, in conversation with the author Alissa Quart
. (Betsy's groundbreaking book, one of my all-time favorites about writing, The Forest for The Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers
, was recently reissued and updated -- don't miss it.) It was our first stab at something we've been mulling called "She Writes Live!", in which attendees don't just sit there while an illustrious author reads at them, but instead write in response to prompts from authors they love, and share what they've written if they wish.
Betsy, of course, had her own twist on the evening. She wanted everyone in the room to share their titles, and then, as a form of market research, to ask the group for their response. Two things about this fascinated me: 1) everyone in attendance had
a title, even if they hadn't started a book; and 2) talking about the titles was an excellent way of talking about the books, finished or just begun...and getting to the heart of them.
So in the spirit of taking all things good and sharing them on She Writes, I thought I'd invite all She Writers to participate in a virtual "title workshop."
What's your title?
What do you think of other people's titles?
Be constructive, as ever, but be honest, as we won't help each other if we aren't. I just spoke with a writer who works in television who told me that TV producers are actually optioning books these days just for the title
. Not the book. The title. Which should tell you something about how make-or-break a title can be.
I will give feedback and invite Alissa and Betsy, who are title-savants, to do the same.
KEY POINT -- DO IT ON THE DISCUSSION THREAD I'VE SET UP
SO WE CAN EASILY COMMENT ON ONE ANOTHER'S TITLES!