‘Just write – the title will come later.’
One of the things that I find most difficult when starting a new writing project is deciding on a title. When I was at school, teachers used to say 'Just write – the title will come later'. I’ve often offered the same advice to my own students but it’s a suggestion that I find hard to follow. I hate seeing 'Untitled' as a file name on my computer, or, worse 'Book 4’. I wouldn’t keep a pet without giving it a name and I’m fairly certain that, if I’d had children, they wouldn’t have been called 'Nameless' and 'Kid 2’ so why is it so difficult with books?
My first novel, 'Forgotten’ spent a couple of years with no name. Eventually I decided on 'Second Sight' – a reference to something that the main character comes to realise. I signed a contract with Bloodhound Books accepting that this title would change, and chang
e it did. I have to admit that ‘Forgotten’ sounds much more like a psychological thriller than 'Second Sight’ ever did.
'Fracture’ also went through a few name changes – some too embarrassing to admit here. It was almost 'Fragment' but, again, that didn’t really suit the genre.
Surprisingly, the title of 'Closer to Home’ has remained constant from the very first sentence. It’s a reference to how the police look at family and friends first in many cases of murder – but it also acknowledges a change of direction for me. My previous books are set in exotic locations but, for 'Closer to Home', I went back to my own past and the town where I grew up.
My current project was given a title after the first few chapters. I continued typing away until, a few weeks ago, I looked at the file on my computer and realised that the name was just wrong. It didn’t fit, it didn’t work and I didn’t like it. Cue frantic Googling, looking for quotations relating to key themes and events in the book. I thought I’d found something unique until I typed it into Amazon and there were at least two books and a film with the same name. A few more attempts and I gave up. I decided to keep writing and see if a title suddenly came to me. And it did – while I was out on a walk, well away from my computer. I don’t think 'Yuk!' any more when I open the folder of notes and drafts, and I’m getting used to thinking of the book by its new title.
I’m now looking at my rescue dog in a new light.....is she really a 'Jess'?