Wednesday, 21 May 2008


I have one! A title that is, for The Novel (note that I now capitalise it instead of putting it in inverted commas, a step forward I think)

I’m hopeless at titles, even for short stories. I always worry that I’m either being too obscure or giving too much away. Karen had a great post about some of her spare titles recently and I would have been tempted to pinch one of them but sadly although there are both lettuces and jellyfish in my book neither Whistling for Lettuce or Truth for the Jellyfish quite hit the spot :o)

One of my favourite books from ages ago is The Abortion: an historical romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan. It is about a public library in California where authors can bring their unpublished manuscripts, ‘the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing.’ The shelves are stacked with works such as My Trike, Leather Clothes and the History of Man, Bacon Death and my absolute favourite Growing Flowers by Candlelight in Hotel Rooms. All titles that perfectly fitted the books they were meant for.

I was hoping a title would just present itself in my writing - an obvious theme or a unforgettable line - sadly this hasn’t happened yet. So instead I had a brainstorming session with my writing buddy Mavis who has read all my completed chapters. We discussed trends in titles especially the long titles that are sort of sentences The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and the one I can never remember in the right order - A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius (?). I decided I couldn’t go down that route as I would have trouble remembering it myself, never mind anyone else. Also pondered on the need to have a title that people could pronounce so they wouldn’t be afraid to ask for in a book shop (Having stumbled myself over Sepulchre, The Algebraist and even Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow).

All other options having been struck off we were finally left with a single word title - the name of one of my central characters, and I suddenly realised that was It. It sums the book up, says what its about, has a hint of ambiguity about it AND is easy to pronounce. Unfortunately to reveal it here would be to give too much away (how paranoid am I?) but The Novel is hereafter to be called E***


KAREN said...

Evie?? I love that name, so I'm just projecting. How exciting, although I'm sorry Whistling for Lettuce wasn't appropriate. I can't find a use for it either :o)

I quite enjoy thinking of titles and I think I'm getting a bit better at it. I LOVE the sound of that book you mentioned. Must try and get hold of it!

HelenMH said...

Sounds like brilliant progress my dear.

Jumbly Girl said...

Karen - Evie is a lovely name, sadly it doesn't appear in my novel :0)

I'm alway a bit wary of recommending books that I loved as a student (I've had acouple of embarrassing book club moments) and I haven't read this one for ages but but I did love the concept of the library in it

Helen - Thank you - it does make my novel seem a tad more real now I know what it's called.

Liberal Neil said...

Eric? Emma? Evil? Eros?

Glad you are making progress ;-)

Look forward to reading it.

Debs said...

I'm fascinated to know the title now. (Sorry, a bit late to this post).


Jumbly Girl said...

Lib Neil Hiya you. I think Emma's already been done :O). 'Evil' would be interesting but misleading, as would 'Eros' and 'Eric'. Might start calling it Enid to end the specualtion

Debs - I'm such a tease! Now I've started this whole secrecy thing though I just can't let it out - even more inspiration for me to get the thing written and published so i can tell the world -until then it is codenamed ENID