Simple tasks like carrying laundry and taking out the trash became a struggle. The burgeoning babe took all your time, attention and energy. Friends began to make comments about your complexion. “Are you getting enough vitamin A?” Or maybe, “My, you have such an otherworldly glow about you.”
Somewhere along the way–right near the end of things–you grew tired of the whole ordeal. You just wanted it to be OVER. You wanted to lie on a beach and go to movies with friends and live a normal life again. Each minute seemed an eternity.
At last…the momentous day came and, after much groaning and writhing and primal screaming, you produced a bouncing, beautiful creation that left you speechless with pride…even if it was in need of a good hosing off and some scrubbing behind the ears.
Congratulations. You just birthed your first draft.
After all the oohs and aahs and phone calls to family and friends, you are faced with a decision of utmost gravity. Just what are you going to name your little hatchling?
While book titles are not protectable by copyright laws, you don’t want to use a generic title or one that’s been used extensively. You could devise a formula for choosing a title, such as Adjective Noun Verb (as in, Dead Man Walking). You could get all alliterative (Of Mice and Men) or just use a name (Elmer Gantry, The Sacketts).
Of course, the title and book subject should convey the same tone. If you pick up a copy of Lee Child’s Killing Floor, you can bet it’s not a good bedtime read for the kiddies. On the other hand, it sometimes pays to find a title that makes what could be considered a mundane subject appear more tantalizing on a shelf. Dee Brown's manuscript, originally titled A History of Indian Tribes in America, found its wings when renamed Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
It can prove a particular challenge to name a western novel. With over a hundred years of western fiction behind us, authors have pretty much run the gamut of titles about trails, canyons, riders, wagons, cattle, guns, bullets, horses or posses. And all of those have been described as dark, lone, lost, wild, blazing, cold, lawless, hungry and a hundred other adjectives. We’ve seen the word “of” after vengeance, revenge, attack, or any number of aggressive-sounding nouns.I found this interesting Western Book Title Generator online:
Be careful with this one though. It had a few intriguing suggestions for me when I gave it a try, like Empty Boots, Black Arrow and The Shadow of the Wolf. More often than not, the random selections were nonsensical, if not a little creepy; for instance, The Tumbleweed of the Searching Meadow, The Ravaged Deer*, and The Cry of the Falling Windows. Yikes!
|*Name and Likeness Withheld|
I’d love to hear how some of the members of Western Fictioneers choose titles. Do you draw words out of a hat? Do you take a poll of the neigborhood kids? Write down whatever your spouse mumbles in his/her sleep?
Until next time, happy writing and happy titling! May your baby book grow up to be a household name!
All the best,