[Title TBA]

Are you good at coming up with titles? Because I am not. My first work of substantial length, written at age 10, I titled THE TRIUMPH OF OATMEAL. What the hell does that even mean? Was there oatmeal in the story? Was it sentient? All I remember is a scene with kids going to the ice cream parlor after school. You know what they don’t serve at the ice cream parlor?


Hint: It rhymes with “goatpeel.”

My first play, written at age 13, took place entirely on a stopped elevator, and it was called BETWEEN FLOORS. That’s an awesome title, right? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it. My smart friend Susan did.

Of course, when I became a Real Writer, titles should have become a piece of cake. After all, they totally include a new Title Generator Lobe in your official Writer’s Home Brain Enhancement Kit.


Also gold stars and giant cookies. YAY!

Just kidding. They totally don’t. I’ve actually never performed brain surgery on myself. I’m stuck with the same crappy neurons I was born with, minus a few dozen or thousand.


Mostly because of Stravinsky.

Titling is just not in my blood. Not that that’s the end of the world. I mean, at least I’m not in charge of titling other people’s books.





Admit it. This one’s better.

So the title of my debut novel is up in the air right now. My original wasn’t grabby enough, so other people have come up with something else. (It’s about a girl at a music academy, and a magical space cougar who rips people’s throats out and/or grants wishes. And opera. How about: MURDER CAT AND CLASSICAL MUSIC GIRL?)

I think this re-titling happens more than I would have guessed. And accounts for the fact that I keep buying the same Frances Hardinge novels thinking they’re different novels because the titles have changed. Maybe title brains are different from prose brains, I don’t know.

What are your favorite titles?

Least favorite?


Filed under Editing and Revising, Helpful or Otherwise, Satisfaction, Writing, Writing and Life

19 responses to “[Title TBA]

  1. Joshua McCune

    I kind of like your titles, Adi — they are very blunt. I like blunt. And I’m sure oatmeal just wanted to be part of the ice-cream lineup.


    • Thanks. And you know, I agree. Blunt is good. There’s an argument to be made for people being aware of what they’re getting into. Like the ingredients list the FDA makes companies put on food items. “Contains 35% RDA of TOUCHING/HEARTWARMING, 15% RDA of DEAD ANIMALS, and 110% RDA of IRRETRIEVABLE INNOCENCE.”


  2. I love that book Toothpick Eyes. The father of the author of Jaws wanted it titled What’s That Noshin on my Laig? My favorite titles are the ones people are currently posting on Twitter–ya novels with a letter missing, e.g. Cather in the Rye, about an author of prairie immigrant novels who lives among voles, dodging enemy combines in a neverending field of wheat. Well, most of them are funny.


    • Love that trend. Did you see the ones that someone actually made mock covers for? OMG.

      From now on, in my mind, Jaws will forever be What’s That Noshin on my Laig?


  3. I blogged about this recently! There are times when a title “clicks” for me and other times when I’d be better off if I pasted the entire manuscript into Wordle and went with what pops up!


  4. Yeah, my current WIP is based on a Child’s ballad, and I haven’t bothered to rename it from the song. I figure someone way smarter in that department can do the job for me. (My first novel, which I started when I was ten and then sold the rights to another child a year later, was called “The True Confessions of Muriel Tyler.”)


  5. I love the days when Adi posts–it means I’m always sure to laugh out loud at least once! 🙂

    I love all of the titles here, but I totally feel your pain on trying to come up with the right one for YOUR book. My editor and I went through SO many rounds on mine, and it was definitely the least fun part of this entire process.

    I wonder how many EMUs have had a title change after their sale. I’d wager more than half of us…


    • I tried to find the post about BLAZE’s title changes, and I was too stupid. It would be an interesting thing to talk about!

      My title process has been painful. My editor(s) have been totally awesome, and I do kind of love that the marketing people care so much. I mean, that’s super cool. But I kept this post a bit vague, because it’s still up in the air and I don’t want to have badmouthed my own title if they pick the one I hate haha.

      (“Haha” makes that sentence less serious. LOL U GUYS I LURVE MAH TITLE!)


  6. Hilarious! I love your reworked titles of classics (if you can call “vampires” classic).



    • Yeah, if Twilight and The Yearling are considered classics, I might have to launch an internet protest campaign. (That’s what people do now, right? Instead of putting anthrax in the water supply?)

      The fact that you did not get giant cookies is ABSOLUTELY WRONG. (See above strategies for amending this.)


  7. Jen

    I’ve noticed that I tend to gravitate towards books with titles that have colors and/or water in them- like oceans, rain, river. . . How about MURDER CAT AND CLASSICAL MUSIC GIRL IN THE RAIN?


  8. I am good with coming up with titles. All the time I hear a phrase and think, that would be an awesome title. Sadly, with one exception, I’ve never written the book to go with the title. And then I write books and can’t come up with a title for them. Never did find a title I liked for Katerina’s Wish, including the one it has. That was my editor’s choice, and I have yet to fall in love with it. But really, it’s the pretty cover, and the awesome text inside, that does more to sell the book.

    Maybe it’s a problem common to books with grant-wishing animals. Although, my magic carp never ripped any throats out. Maybe I can work that into a sequel?


  9. This is hilarious! I have trouble coming up with great titles. I probably would have had SPACE COUGAR for your book, which wouldn’t cover nearly all of the awesomeness. I love the DIVERGENT/INSURGENT/ALLEGIANT titles (Veronica Roth), Ally Carter’s HEIST SOCIETY, and Gary Schmidt’s OKAY FOR NOW. PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White is a pretty awesome title too.


  10. OK, maybe a sorta portmanteau like Spacougar! Or Musicougar! Or Cougirl! Or not.


  11. Amy

    Great post, Adi! I loved your new titles, hilarious! Toothpick eyes….!!


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