A to Z Challenge: T is for TITLE

posted in: Various Musings | 1

For the A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge, I’m writing a story, aiming for 1000 words a day (every day except Sundays). Continuing today with the next part of the story about the character Codie Snow.

New to this series of posts? You might want to start here:

Okay, so I’m taking a little break today from the storytelling, because it’s time to look at something that’s very important to writers: the title of their book. Choose the wrong title and you’ve already got a huge strike against you (I know that from personal experience), but if you pick a good one, you’re on your way to generating reader interest.

So, the Codie Snow story that a good many of you have been following from the beginning (and some of you have joined later on)…it’s going to need a title eventually. I already know what I’m going to title it and the remaining books in the series (I’ve planned seven total). I have a loose storyline for the seven (HINT! One of the “crimes” that Codie witnessed on her ride-along with Pete will be featured throughout the series) and I’m sure you’ve already picked up on the fact that there’s a love triangle going on. I had thought I knew who Codie was going to end up with but—in true Jade fashion—now I have no idea. I let the story and characters tell me what’s going to happen as we go and that’s why I don’t have a clue right now!

But let’s talk about title choices since, after all, that’s the focus of this post. I’ve chosen titles many different ways—sometimes, I let a line in the book inspired me (that’s where Fabric of Night came from). Other times, I let a theme rule (as I have in the Nicki Sosebee series—some readers have figured out what that is already). Then there are the ones where I let an idea from the book be the title—as in the case of Bullet. I had one reviewer say that the title (not to mention the cover) wasn’t doing it any favors but that it was a good book. I laughed a little at that, because that title felt so natural—and, if you’ve read the book, you might agree. Once I’d chosen the title, I found myself using so many bullet idioms. Again, if you’ve read the book, you’ve probably caught them. I’ve also used (and regretted!) another tactic, and many of you in the past heard me bemoan that choice. The book formerly known as Worst Mother was loved by several readers but lots of readers told me they’d avoided the book forever (or regretted having done so after reading the book) because of the title and the cover (the old cover was of a young preteen blonde girl—with a dirty face and wearing makeup that had smudged on her face because of her tears). I loved the cover and really loved the title, because I struggled for so long with it. I had an assortment of shitty titles and my husband suggested Worst Mother and I fell in love. The main character is not a bad mother, not by a long shot, but she feels like she is the worst mother on the planet (due to what happens in the story). But when readers saw the picture and read the title, they imagined the worst and stayed away in droves! I have since renamed it (and coming up with a new title took me forever too!) and given it a new cover. The title Laid Bare also represents how the main character feels in the book, but perhaps in a less intimidating fashion.

Suffice it to say that choosing a title is never easy, nor does it always come naturally.

So…the Codie Snow series. I wanted the series theme to be easily recognizable (think Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series or Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series—you don’t have to be one of their readers to recognize the titles One for the Money [Evanovich] and A is for Alibi [Grafton], even if you’ve never read them). And, for some reason, thinking about those books helped me (easily, actually!) come up with my titles. I’m not going to share them all yet, but I can and will tell you what the first book’s title will be: Once Around the Block. Figuring out a title for this story is a huge weight off my shoulders for many reasons, because it’s easier to “pimp” a book and get people talking about it if they can tell other readers the title of the book. And, once I have a title (and the story, of course), it’s much easier to get the cover made. The cover will be important because, as many of you know, I intend to take this story to Wattpad as (or after!) I revise it. The plan right now is to post a new chapter every three or so days (or once a week at the latest), and once the story’s actually written, that should be fairly easy. I’m given to understand I’ll need a cover for Wattpad. I might do some other fun things with this story before actually publishing it, but it’s been a lot of fun just writing it and sharing my process. It’s also made me a little nervous, because you’re seeing what Anne Lamott calls a “shitty first draft” and you’re seeing it live. I’m not holding anything back. It’s kind of scary but a lot of fun too. What I’m finding the most fun is where I hit those points where I stop and say, “Okay, this here? Lemme tell you about it.” I like telling you what’s going on “behind the scenes,” and that’s what has been making it fun for me. So know that I haven’t regretted for a second signing up for the A-to-Z Challenge and I plan to do it again next year.

Anyway…thanks for bearing with me while I digressed. I’ll write more story on Monday. I promise!

UP NEXT:  U is for UP

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