Cross-posted at Cera duBois.
Have you ever asked yourself this question about the title of your story? Sometimes coming up with the right one can be as painful as coming up with the story.
Recently, I was talking to a friend about my books… When aren’t I talking about my books? Anyway, she asked me a question that got me to thinking about where my titles come from and why.
I have friends who don’t title their manuscripts because they think their publishers will change them anyway. I don’t buy this—sure some will, but I think it depends on the title and how it’s entrenched in the book. I remember reading a blog article by Stephanie Myers, author of the Twlight series. Each one of her titles is a metaphor. Twlight speaks to the beginning of Bella’s life as she falls in love with a vampire. New Moon reflects the darkness Bella feels when Edward leaves her. Eclipse is about Jacob overshadowing Edward and Bella having to chose. And finally, New Dawn. Bella’s becoming a vampire and fully awaking as a fulfilled person. Yeah, hate to admit it, I’m a fan…
I’m very particular about my titles. And though, I often come up with them long before I write my first words of the story, they all have thematic or metaphoric meanings.
The book title my friend and I were discussing is Butterfly, book one of the Cowboys of Colton and will be published under Sara Walter Ellwood. She wondered why I’d title a contemporary Western romantic suspense such a name. It’s easy… It’s a metaphor. The hero and heroine go through a metamorphous in the story. They turn their ugly selves into something beautiful—like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.
Book two of the Cowboys of Colton series is titled The Hardest Words to Say. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and the one title I didn’t come up with before I wrote the book. The hero and heroine had their lives go completely astray because they were afraid to say three very simple words to each other, and now that they have a second chance, they almost do it again. Hence, to them they are the hardest words to say…
Right now I’m rewriting The Long Road Home. Another contemporary Western. The plot is totally different in this version, but the theme hasn’t changed. Both my hero and heroine travel a long road back to each other (home). I’ve been kicking around alternative titles for this story, which would allow me to resubmit it to publishers who have read the previous version and rejected it, but none have spoken to me. So, I’ll probably keep the title I came up with long before I even named my hero and heroine.
The titles of the books in my paranormal series, The Hunter’s Daggers, are very metaphoric in meaning. And never once has my editor suggested I change the titles. A Hunter’s Angel, A Hunter’s Blade and A Hunter’s Wings actually have multiple meanings. In A Hunter’s Angel, it’s obvious that the angel is probably the heroine, but it also means redemption, which is the one thing the hero could deny himself if he chooses to love the heroine. In A Hunter’s Blade, the blade symbolizes what the hero wants to be, but when it comes down to it, the blade isn’t at all what he thinks it is. It’s learning to cut a new life out of the unknown, which includes falling in love and finding out he was wrong about himself. The wings in A Hunter’s Wings to the banished angel heroine means getting back her way home to Heaven. But as she protects the hero from himself and from the demon she’s hunted for two-thousand years, wings take on something neither of them has ever felt—true love which could keep her grounded forever.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Do your titles have deeper meanings? Or do just hope your editor won’t title your book something stupid?