You can feel when a title is right. It sits in the gut in just the right way.
Not so my current novel. My opus of numerous years has remained title-less. When speaking of it I call it ‘my novel’ or ‘my regency romp’ or ‘my regency soap opera’.
It has no official name–yet.
I need to rectify that. I am nearing THE END, starting to cast my eye towards publishing, and I can’t keep calling it ‘my novel’, certainly not in my query letters to agents.
It’s time to name the baby!
But what do I name the baby?
I have no idea. Nothing from the novel itself leaps up. No particular saying or place.
I decided to try random associations, something I like to do when I’m stuck/have writer’s block.
I turned first to the tarot, randomly selecting a card. I got the card ‘judgement’. Reading through the meaning of Judgement, this phrase stood out:
SHADOWS OF THE PAST.
Ooooo, I thought. That might work! It fits with the story (several of my characters have their pasts rise up and bite them in the bum).
Plus, my novel is the first in a series and think of all the ways I could play around with ‘shadows’!
Shadows of the Past, Shadows of the Heart, Deep Shadows, etc.
But does this exemplify the quirkiness of my regency romp? Is it too common a turn of phrase? Does it stand out? Is it too hokey? Does it sound too ‘Harloquin Romance’?
So I kept hunting.
This time I plucked a few of my favourite era-ish themed books off the shelf, closed my eyes and chose a page.
Here are some of the phrases I found that could conceivably be turned into titles to fit my novel:
From Gothic by Fred Botting (pg. 48):
- Let Fancy Roam
- A Certain Distance
From Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (pg.148):
- Feeling Haunted
- Impulses of the Moment
From Glenarvon by Lady Caroline Lamb (pg. 142):
- The Meaning of That Glance
- Jests of Fancy
From The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollett (pg. 70):
- Uncommon Regard
- Turned Tipsy Turvy (which has the benefit of alliteration! Always welcome in a title!)
I even tried randomly selecting a page from my own novel.
- A Peculiar Message
- Sitting in Solitude (more alliteration!)
None leap out at me as the one, I’m afraid.
I guess the next step is to write them all up on slips of paper, stick them in a hat and pull one out with my eyes closed?