April 1, 2013

Tales of Title Woes

A couple days ago, I had lunch with a long-time friend (and avid reader, though not of romance novels), and understandably, our conversation eventually touched on my novel. Naturally, he asked me what my novel is called. Unfortunately, I froze, unable to answer. 

When it comes to my blog, I have so far referred to my novel simply as "K & S", using the initials of my primary characters. When giving my novel to first readers, I chose a title that seemed to have promise in conveying what I wanted, though perhaps imperfectly. For some of the readers, I printed copies, and a difference in MS Word versions changed the width of the text box which encompassed my two-word title, reducing it to a single word: Tweaking.

For those who may not be aware, "tweaking" is a slang term for getting high on meth. Spoiler alert: my novel has nothing to do with drugs. Clearly, this title would not work.

The fact is, titles present a complex paradox, especially when pursuing traditional publishing. If my book is accepted for publication, the publisher could, quite likely, create and choose a title wholly unlike the one over which I am currently agonizing. At the same time, the title under which I submit my book has to be sufficiently evocative to encourage the recipients of my query letter to continue reading. Beyond that, there exists a need for the title of a work which has consumed such a large portion of my life to convey the perfect information about the book, in as few words as possible. 

Occasionally, it is difficult to pinpoint what meaning should be conveyed. In my case, I know exactly what I want the title to convey; I just haven't been able find the ideal combination of words with which to do so. My writing group was quite helpful, offering up many variations and ideas, several of which could easily become quality titles for romance novels (and some of which brought to mind more gruesome, scientific images). Unfortunately, none of those titles felt quite right. 

Because my ideal title alludes to musical terms, I also tossed around ideas with my sister who is a musician. Although we came up with some technical titles which do mean exactly what I would like (as did one of my original options), I am uncertain whether any of these would actually evoke the intended meaning, particularly for those without musical educations.

While I am nearing the state of completion for both my manuscript and the required accompanying matter necessary to begin querying (scary as that is!), I must first break through this wall blocking my ideal title, even if that feels for now like chipping through its stone with a plastic spoon.

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