Insert Clever Title Here

I have a confession…

Despite years of writing, including more than a decade’s worth of  published magazine and newspaper credits numbering in the hundreds, I am title challenged. Don’t believe me? Look at my blog. Seriously, now — who names their blog “Gotta Name My Blog”?

Me! That’s who.  I am guilty of sticking in a working title as a place holder, promising myself to come up with something better in the near future, only to… well… fail miserably.

I was blessed with an amazing editor when I first started writing, Sherri Nestico. Sherri was a genius with alliteration. That’s when I fell into the habit of not bothering to title my articles. No matter what I came up with, she did one better. That’s why she was the editor and I the lowly writer.

I once wrote an article on how to control fleas. I titled it “Please, Fleas, Flee Me” because my then-hubby was a musician and I like the Beatles. I thought that was my best title EV-AR, but Sherri changed the article to “Keep Fleas Fleeing This Summer With These Tips” which, admittedly, was a better title for a newspaper article. That was my last serious attempt to title my work.

So here I am, with a smart aleck name for my blog, no decent title for this post, and a working title for Book Two of The Black Wing Chronicles that makes people think I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.

Nope. Sorry. For what it’s worth, I’m Southern Baptist and I still can’t come up with catchy titles or headlines. I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. I was surfing the web looking for working titles of famous books when I came across this post on Mental Floss listing 10 Classic Books and their working titles.

According to the post, F. Scott Fitzgerald went through several titles before finally settling on THE GREAT GATSBY, one of my favorite books, and a major influence on my early writing. I can’t imagine feeling quite the same about TRIMALCHIO IN WEST EGG or THE HIGH-BOUNCING LOVER. And Fitzgerald wasn’t alone! Jane Austen’s FIRST IMPRESSIONS wouldn’t leave quite the same… well… first impression as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Although I have to be honest and admit that FIRST IMPRESSIONS is better than Bram Stoker’s THE DEAD UN-DEAD. So glad it ended up simply called DRACULA.

Really would anyone have been so enthralled over PANSY, TOTE THE WEARY LOAD, THE BUGLES SANG TRUE, or BA! BA! BLACK SHEEP? How about TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY? No? I guess they hit it out of the park with GONE WITH THE WIND, huh?

Yep. All of the above were working titles for the one, true, Great American Novel. Legend has it that the book was ready to go to print and Margaret Mitchell still hadn’t settled on a title for it.

So, I guess I’m not alone in my shortcomings when it comes to naming my work. On one hand, it makes me feel a little less inadequate. On the other, I still haven’t come up with a decent title for the second book in The Black Wing Chronicles.


What are some of your favorite titles? If you’d like to share, or if you have any suggestions for my blog… a good title for the sequel to SOVRAN’S PAWN… anything really, I’d love to hear about it!

8 thoughts on “Insert Clever Title Here

  1. I still don’t have a title for my current work-in-progress, but I have plenty of titles for the fantasy book simmering on the back burner. Glad I’m not the only one who is title-challenged. Now, how do you do with summaries?

    1. I avoid them whenever possible. 🙂 All the ancillary stuff that goes along with writing and publishing has always kicked my butt. I hate summaries, synopses, and if it weren’t for Scrivener, I’d still hate outlines.

  2. My, you have been thinking about this 😀 That was going to be my next comment 😛

    For what it’s worth, I’m useless, absolutely useless, with titles too. I love “Sovran’s Pawn”, and even the book two title would have come ok if not for the connotations. *sigh

    1. Blurbs and summaries can be fun to play with, but I really need a title to spin around. The title for the first book actually spun out of one of the drafts of the summary with the line “Bo Barron is a pawn caught between two Sovrans struggling for power.” I love SOVRAN’S PAWN, too. That title didn’t come together until after the book was written. At that point, it was like, “Ah, yes, of course! How could this book be called anything else?” I’m guessing it will be the same for the second one.

      I’ll admit, I’ve been angsting over the title of Book Two. THE WATCHTOWER comes out of Blade’s holofeature career. That’s the title of his last holofeature, which is mentioned in BARRON’S LAST STAND.

      This book was originally, like SOVRAN’S PAWN, supposed to be backstory for BLS focusing on how and why Blade left holofeatures to become a mercenary. But as this book settles in to suit the series arc, that title is less suitable because the book is less about the one incident surrounding that holofeature and more about filling in series plot points. I realize I’m putting the cart before the horse because it isn’t finished yet, but I do envy those writers who have a great title for their next book always in the wings.

      On the other hand, I have two more books *with* titles that are ready for polishing, but I don’t dare put the time and energy into them until Book Two is finished. (Continuity and spoilers.)

  3. I’m stuck with the same title issue as you. Most of my books are named after the hero and heroine for the first draft. I’m still not happy with all of my titles, but I couldn’t come up with something better, so stuck with them. LOL

  4. It’s been tough lately to get titles out of my head, but eventually they do come. Of course, I’m assuming they’ve been good ones…

    But I never just have one right there on the tip of my tongue. I use a methodical process of brainstorming, writing down random words affiliated to the plot, then combining them into titles, modifying and adjusting them, until I see something where I say “That’s it!”

    It took me 14 different title combinations to get the title for my short story “Redemption”, just as an example. “Some Assembly Required” used 8 and my Kasey Reynolds story “Deadly Decisions” needed 12. (Thank goodness I keep all the notes from my short stories in a folder, so I can reminisce)

  5. Renee Stewart

    If it’s just for the black wing, call it “Black Wing Log”. If it’s for all your books, call it “The Mind of JC Cassels”. Just an idea.

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