Titles

Okay, McD asked about titles and specifically about Sing’s title. Since this blog isn’t read by legions and I doubt those who do read it also happen to be regulars at Two Ends of the Pen, I’ll go ahead and tell about titles here. I also can expand more, since for her panels Deb specifically asks for 1 or 2 paragraph answers, and my answer covered the titles of all 3 books, so each book only got maybe 2 sentences. Spoiler Alert. If you do happen to be a Two Ends of the Pen reader and want to wait and read her panel, stop here.

*****

First of all IMO all too many romance titles are very forgettable. Heart, Love, Desire this, that or the next thing in some combination that flies out of my head the minute I’m not looking at the cover. Titles like The Outsider or Flowers From the Storm on the other hand do tend to stick with me. So that’s the kind of title I want.

I’ll start with Eyes since it came first. The book was done and through a couple of drafts and still had no title because I couldn’t think of anything I liked. One day I was ruminating on how romances have so much emphasis on eye color. You know the kind of thing: not just green, but emerald; violet (have you ever seen violet eyes); not grey but storm-colored or silver!; not light brown but whiskey – or gold! Those thoughts led to the title for Eyes. I worried it was too long and too many words but liked it too much not to use it anyway. I had to go back and change the eye color of both Cord and Anne from what I’d originally had so that the title would work, and I’ve never been sorry.

Sing was not without a title so long, but it was without a title I liked. Those of you who have read it know there’s a mention of rainbows in several places, and my early titles were all Rainbow something or something Rainbow. At one point I was thinking of Wrapped in a Rainbow or Rainbows, but another indie put out a book earlier this year with that title on a more modern romance. I even had it on my website for a while to look for the next romance with a title of Rainbow Rapture. There’s no problem with using a title someone else has used. Titles don’t have copyright, but I don’t think it’s a good idea, and I wasn’t that happy with the rainbow titles. Again, they seemed ordinary.

So one day I was working on the sex scene in the first part of the book. As always I had to be in a darkened room with a couple of beers in me, so maybe those beers helped. Writing those scenes, mild as they are in my books, is torture for me. I was having Sarah be embarrassed afterwards at what she’d done at the height of passion and Matt – well, Matt being Matt. Once he’d referred to her being noisy as music, well, it was just there, and I was delighted with it and never had a second thought about those words as the title.

I’ve been very pleased to have readers both in reviews and in emails to me mention they really like the titles. Their comments make me glad I kept fussing and studying on it until I came up with titles that worked for me and evidently work for others. Maybe I’m wrong – there’s no way to ever know – but I really believe the titles are part of the reason why books by a totally unknown indie in a genre with so many to choose from have done so well.

And here I am again. Almost all of the story for the next romance is worked out in my head, but it has no title….

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5 Responses to Titles

  1. McD says:

    Well thanks for that Ellen. Now I know. And by the way I love the title. And love how it came about.

    I would have thought for a western you may have had a ‘western’ sounding title. Just proves you are really a romantic at heart.

  2. mesadallas says:

    Well, don’t leave us in suspense. At least give us a basic plot teaser. And I’m sure you’ll come up with another name that sets your books apart. That’s one of the reasons I like your writing.

  3. McD – Maybe someday a western type title that seems distinctive will occur to me. Not so far.

    mesadallas – You’re going to have to stay in suspense for a while. I don’t even have character names yet and am not going to work on it more until I have the new mystery done.

    ~Ellen

  4. mesadallas says:

    Well, they say good things come to those who wait.

  5. Noreen says:

    I’m just one reader, and I’m not one to normally put much stock in the importance of the title of a book. I don’t think most books have titles that are meaningful or are creative. Sing My Name is both of those. It comes out of a special place in the book, is an original way of putting words to what’s happening. It has depth. It’s unique. It’s hot!

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