RTW: What’s in a name?

Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s Topic: How do you choose titles for your stories?

Sadly, coming up with clever book titles is not one of my gifts.

That said, I do sort of love the title of the book I’m currently querying: Where Poppies Bloom. The first title of the story was “The Ghost of Bell Cove.” So lame, I know. I picked it on the fly because I needed a name for the file on my computer. As I started to flesh the story out and discover its themes, the title evolved. Nathan, the ghost in the story, initially uses poppy flowers as a way of communicating with the main character, Callie. I love flowers, and I selected poppies as a motif for this story because of their different cultural symbolisms, including sleep, death, beauty. There’s an actual place in the story where poppies bloom (Callie visits it with Nathan), and when I wrote about it, I thought it sounded really pretty. And so, the title was born.

The story I’m revising (rewriting, really) is currently called Loving Max Holden, but that’s changing. I’ve recently discovered that there’s a soap opera character (I have no idea which soap opera) named Max Holden, and while I don’t intend to change my character’s name at this time, the story title is going to have to go. More importantly, as I rewrite, the story’s focus is changing. My main character, Jillian, is becoming stronger and more independent, not so focused on “loving Max Holden,” and in celebration of Jill’s evolution, a title change is in order. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to call the story now. That’s what CPs are for, right? 🙂

What about you… how do you title your stories? And don’t forget to visit YA Highway to check out all the other posts.


20 thoughts on “RTW: What’s in a name?

  1. Alicia Gregoire says:

    Renaming books in progress is so hard, especially if you’ve been with that title for a while. The same with renaming characters.

    Good news is that the character Max Holden hasn’t been on One Life to Live seriously in YEARS, so while you change the book name, you might not need to worry about changing the character name.

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s One Life to Live? I’m pretty sure the audience who enjoyed Max Holden on One Life to Live isn’t the same audience who might someday buy my book… total wishful thinking though! 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Ooh, I love the title for your querying project. My character’s name is Poppy, so I, um, love it. 🙂

    And UGH finding out a character’s name is shared by someone else fictional?? The worst!!

  3. Aleeza Rauf says:

    i likes your titles–very interesting! esp. where poppies bloom–id totes pick it up if it were an actual book. that, and the interesting premise behind it 🙂

  4. Marquita Hockaday says:

    I agree CPs are def. good for helping with titles. I like how you came up with the title for Where Poppies Bloom–this is pretty much the method I employ, too. And my titles have changed every now and then, too. I think the better we get to know our manuscripts the closer we are to getting a good title.

    • katyupperman says:

      I totally agree. My manuscripts all start out with something lame and obvious. I like to hope the titles they eventually end up with are a little more meaningful.

  5. Alison says:

    haha – I have so many working titles for some of my projects! One changed three times and still not happy with it. Good to know I’m not alone!

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, your totally NOT alone. I have equal trouble naming characters. I referred to the love interest in Where Poppies Bloom as BOY for about a third of the manuscript before I finally settled on a name for him.

  6. Leila says:

    Poppies! What a beautiful idea. Always great to find a word loaded with interesting symbolism.

    Me too on the character names! There was a WIP where I had to leave a gap for the name of one of my main characters for AGES.

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