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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Title Terror

How is it that I can title hundreds of blogs but not a single, measly novel? Or rather, we have an embarrassment of titles: first Brimstone Soup, then A Light That Never Goes Out, then To Be Determined (in the literal and not titular sense)...

So, how does one go about titling a layered, sprawling manuscript so that it will both intrigue and promise fulfillment? Tease and excite?

I tend to like expansive titles that address themes or evoke mystery, even better if they have some kind of musical or religious overtone, like:

Fall on Your Knees (perhaps the best title ever)
Broken for You (a close second)
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Me, the Missing, and the Dead
Fat Kid Rules the World
The Truth about Forever
A Map of the Known World
Things Hoped For (hey, will anyone notice if I steal that one?)
The God of Small Things
Gravity and Grace
Remembrance of Things Past (just kidding)

My writing compatriots and I have compiles suggestions in the hundreds, and yet nothing seems quite right. This may well be the heart of the process - saying, in a few words, what makes this novel, this story wholly its own.

I'm open to tips and suggestions - you never know when something will spark!

Here's the blurb:

Debut novelist, Holly Cupala’s tentatively titled, A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT, chronicles seventeen-year-old Miranda’s unexpected pregnancy and her gripping journey to navigate the labyrinth of her bad-girl sister Xanda’s life, unravel the mystery of her death, and free herself in the process.


  1. I can't start listing favorite titles or I'll be here all day, Holly. ALL DAY.

    One of the best titles from a book I've yet to read: Wonder When You'll Miss Me. So evocative and emotional!

    Check your email shortly.

  2. Thank you! I added my blurb to the main post.

  3. I'm having my own, What's the title going to be, problems. Wish I could help. :)

  4. What about "Finding _____"? Like maybe "Finding Xanda"? Or "Searching for Xanda"? As in metaphoric searching, obviously, as she's dead. ;)

    Try pulling a line from the novel. It works with poems, and it works with novels. (I can't list them off the top of my head right now, but I've found novels' titles in the book itself, and that's always fun to find.)

  5. Aw, you're not keeping 'A Light That Never Goes Out'? I really loved that title...

  6. Kristina and I loved - LOVED - Brimstone Soup. Is that really totally out of the running?

    The long titles are great. And i also like one-word titles: Holes, Dust, Speak, Eragon, Twilight, Feed, etc.

    (Ultimately, it must please you, as no one title will please everyone else.)

  7. Thank you all! I love the previous titles, too, but they have issues. I'm torn between love and agreeing that neither is quite right. The right one is out there, we just have to find it...

    Robyn, hopefully this discussion will be useful to you, too!

    Maya, Finding Xanda is on the list! Lol. The readergirlz saw your book of poetry! Our friend Katherine Bond, who is a poet, saw it and also commented on how wonderful it is!