naming the babyI usually have no trouble choosing a title for a piece of work. The title typically comes before the work, or concurrently, and when it does, it seems right.

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’m stumped.

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:


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?