I find titles incredibly difficult to choose—or incredibly easy. I like to have a title that has some relevance to the story and resonates with it or me. I’m a character-driven writer and my titles reflect that. Generally, my titles reflect something about the character’s life or the core of their personality. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it very wrong.
For example, by historical stories were very difficult to come up with the right title.
Between Love and Honor began life as My Heart is Broken. That wouldn’t have been a good start for a reader, so it was quickly changed.
The Courage to Love had a working title of Over There. I hated it the whole time but was into the third round of edits before I thought of the best title for the book. It had to reflect David’s struggle with his past and gradual acceptance that he could move forward with Bernard.
Other title come more easily. The Just Life series never had any title other than the ones they were published with. I had the characters in my head but, in some ways, the titles wrote the stories. The stories had to match the titles.
Ordinary People, as a title, came to me within the first paragraph of writing. It had no other incarnations. Vinnie is such an ordinary person that you’d never think there’d be anything extraordinary about his life. He’s a study in contrasts from macro to micro, and I like that the title foreshadows the contrasts. It’s a good title and I can’t think of another one that would work better, but it would also be a good title for a series.
My science fiction and fantasy stories, The Planet Whisperer and Warrior Pledge, were written with the title formed from the very beginning. I’ve written a sequel to Warrior Pledge, Dragon God, that started life as something else entirely too incipid for what Fisher and Gaelan go through to find their own better place.
In Another Life was also an easy one to name. It was inspired by Katy Perry’s song One That Got Away. I deliberately didn’t watch the video of that song until after I’d finished the story. They’re nothing alike.
One of my disaster titles is What About Him. That’s the question that ran through my head the whole time I was writing the story but it stopped me thinking beyond that question when it came to choosing a title.
All this discussion on how my titles came about clouds the issue of the importance of titles for books. I firmly believe a good title is important but I also think a bad title can sell if the story is good enough. I also think the cover is more important than the title because it has more visual impact.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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