Titles, Titles, and More Titles

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Inspiration can appear in many places when you’re brainstorming ideas for titles. The beautiful, fragrant lilac was my inspiration for the title of my first Hollyhill book. The Scent of Lilacs. Almost until it was ready to go into print production, I had the title The Smell of Lilacs. Then I was standing behind the old bus my husband’s quartet used to travel in and being almost overcome by diesel fumes which I really hate to smell. And it hit me! A smell is not always a good smell. Ah, but when you say scent, you think pleasant odors and I definitely had in mind pleasant odors for my scent of lilacs in that Hollyhill book. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late for me to say, “Hey, how about we change smell to scent?” If it had been too late, I’d have probably always been thinking diesel fumes when I saw the title instead of the heavenly scent of lilacs.

As I told you Sunday, I’ve been brainstorming for title ideas for my book in progress. I jotted down everything that came to mind and then looked on Amazon to see how many books were already using those titles and how long since they were published. Titles are used over and over. For instance, one of the titles I thought up as a possibility was Promise Me Tomorrow. Lots of other authors had already thought that title up. Many books with that title. Also Tomorrow’s Promise was a popular, much used title. So I threw those out as too popular and too recent. 

I want my book to have a unique and fitting title.  I’m not sure I came up with any unique and fitting ideas. I really prefer to wait until I’ve finished the book to brainstorm title ideas, and this book is far from finished. I’m still feeling my way and not totally sure how the ending is going to go. But the publishers need a title now. Maybe I need a title now too. Maybe that will focus my thinking and let me see the story in a clearer way. My working title for the book is Far from Rosey Corner. But while I was brainstorming I kept wanting to throw love into the title or chance or wind/winds. So we’ll see. The publishers titling committee will look at my suggestions and try to figure out which title would work best. They might also brainstorm new titles of their own. Since I’m not particularly attached to any of the titles I came up with, I’ll have an open mind ready to consider whatever they suggest. That’s not always the case when I’m attached to the title I’ve decided is best for the story.

Many of the titles I have come up with have ended up the final titles on my books. I’ve also been told that I write to the title. I do tend to intertwine the theme of the title into my story. I certainly did that with The Seeker. And I have done that with The Gifted, my Shaker novel that will be out in July since a major theme of that book is the gifts we are given by the Lord. So it will be good to have a title for this work in progress, so I can continue to brainstorm the story. 

How important are titles to you in picking a book? What are some great titles? Gone with the Wind – that’s classic. I like Cold Mountain and Snow on Cedars. But sometimes it’s a combination of a story you love plus a title like The Secret Garden or Charlotte’s Web.  

Thanks for reading, and I always enjoy reading your comments.