For quite some time now, I've known things just weren't meant to be with my title. At first, things were great. We were the perfect match. When we met, he helped me work through some plot problems, and we quickly became attached to one another. I even created an awesome(ly dorky) banner to put in my signature for NaNoWriMo.
But a few weeks into the relationship, we started to drift apart. My manuscript evolved, and the title...didn't. It sat there, stagnate, applying to only the first 25 pages of my novel, and not addressing the themes in my book as a whole. Still, I loved him so, and I refused to let him go. I even sent him in with my draft for my writer's conference, knowing full well that I had no intention of keeping him around for a long-term commitment.
Alas, I feel the time has come. I'm about the start my first round of edits, so I can no longer be attached to a title that doesn't work for me. I need to break up with my title. Here goes: *Ahem*
Thank you so much for the love and support you've provided me with over the last few months. I've appreciated our late nights more than you'll know, and I'll never forget the way you helped me work through my job assignment issues with Kaia. But I think we both know this isn't working. I want bigger and better things from a title than you can provide. I would love to keep you around and have some more laughs, or keep you on the back-burner for a future novel, but unfortunately I just don't think that's possible. I'm sorry. Please don't hate me. And remember - we'll always have NaNo2009.
P.S. See you in January!
Whew. I feel much better.
Well, sort of.
Except for the fact that my genius break-out novel is now officially (once again) untitled, I'm totally golden.
Fortunately, I'm not the only writer struggling with title woes. Frankie is going through an epic title battle - she's blogged about it and tweeted about it on several occasions. The Literary Lab's Scott G.F. Bailey recently blogged about his title woes, but he's clearly more clever than me, because he had the foresight to name some characters Cocke & Bull, and I just love that as a title.
Then of course there's the question of whether or not titles even matter. Editorial Anonymous had a great post awhile back answering a reader question about whether a good title would help get you to the top of the slush pile (the answer was a resounding...sort of. Maybe. It might help, but a bad title won't necessarily hurt, unless it's so awful it makes agents want to gouge their eyes out with a spoon.) And Jody Hedlund explained how her book, The Preacher's Bride (due out next year) ended up with it's title - yes, it was the title she used when it was sent on submission, but it wasn't the title she queried with OR her original working title. And even though the ultimate decision was to go with the title she picked, there was a whole Title Committee who met to discuss and decide on these things. Uh, wow.
Still, even if it ultimately could be changed/doesn't matter (or might matter), I still want a great title. After all, if my title is good enough to convince the publishing powers that be to keep it, I could avoid having a McTitle. But for now, I mostly just want to be able to answer that question: "What's your book called?" And maybe I want to make another dorky graphic.
The new one I'm tossing around is The Death Day Machine, but I don't love it. I don't know if I don't like the word "death" in the title, or if I just think it's too clunky. Getting rid of "The" or doing just The Machine are other options, but I thought the latter was too boring/ambiguous. I want to include Kaia in there somehow (she's the reaper...not like the Grim Reaper, that's just the name of her job), but I'm not sure. It is her story after all, but I don't know...sigh. I'm hoping to have a huge epiphany as I edit, and if not, I'll be turning to the blogging community with a synopsis looking for advice.
BONUS! Are you, like me, Frankie, Jody, Scott, and apparently every other writer on the planet, having a hard time coming up with a title? Here are some tips from Writer's Digest! They were moderately helpful to me, and the last one was the final straw in convincing me to break up with The Reaper's List.