Title In Question

Recently, one of my good writer friends has been having trouble coming up with a good title for her young adult novel.

Recently, at a critique meeting, one of the critiquers said that she did not like the title of my book…that she would not pick it up off the shelf.

Burn? you ask.

Eh, a little. I still think my title is appropriate for the book, but I can see her argument. So I’ve been trying to think up a couple alternative ones if it has to come to that (read: if future agents/editors don’t think the title will work).

It’s nice to know that this ‘title trouble’ is not a recent epidemic. We should take comfort in the fact that George Eliot had about six different titles set for Mill on the Floss and that she is not alone. Emily Dickinson was apparently so stressed out about titling her poems that she didn’t bother. Ditto Shakespeare’s sonnets (though there’s a rhyme and reason to his order…)

Anyone else have trouble with titles? Generally I don’t have much of an issue finding one that I like…but pleasing everyone else is kind of a pain.

Critiques Writing Problems

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. It depends on the story for me. I’ve had a couple titles before I even knew what the story would be, but I’ve also struggled with titles for completed works.Good luck to our mutual struggling friend.

  2. Titles are always key. If I don’t have a title for the story, I usually feel like I don’t have the story either.As far as pleasing yourself vs. pleasing others – right now pleasing others with FJR should be the last thing on your mind. Strange for me to say, I know, since I’ve now read it one and a half times and written plenty of notes all over, but I do mean it. You’re a smart writer and a smart critic, and before you can make me happy, you have to make you happy. Then I’ll be at your disposal for telling you exactly how to write FJR to please me. I’ve gotta say, too, the title works for me.

  3. Title struggler here šŸ™‚I think you hit the nail on the head: pleasing everyone is a pain. So I tried out a few new titles, moped a while. Kept saying, “But I like my title. I know it’s dark, but I like it.”So I decided to keep it. At least until an agent or editor decides to change it, and since there’s money inviolved then, I’m okay with change then šŸ™‚ For now, I’m embracing my darkness.

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