So a while back, I found this funny little article titled “How to Title Every Book You Ever Write”. Now in my mind, I’m nearly finished with a couple of books, (though in reality I’m probably far from it) but I’d like to think I have come up with some good titles so far.
Well maybe not good, but okay? I mean mediocre is good, right? Who the hell am I kidding, coming up with a title is right up there with naming characters for me… For whatever reason, it’s the hardest thing I have to come up with when writing a story. I’ve even written some short stories lately, where I simply refer to the main characters as ‘he’ and ‘she’, and go out of my way to write the entire thing from a 1st-person POV just to avoid naming them.
Anyway, the article made me chuckle the first time I read it, so I bookmarked it, and then completely forgot about it. Today, I read back over it, and figured I’d finally take the time to step through its naming convention to create my own titles.
The Promising Debut Novel – Title: (Scent of your deodorant or shampoo) on (street you grew up on. If neither your deodorant or shampoo have a named scent, substitute the word “Mornings.”)
“Mornings on Brookmoor”
To be fair, my deodorant does have a scent, but I really wasn’t feeling “Fresh Blast on Brookmoor”. And something about the alliteration in this one just does it for me.
Now on to the second novel. Hailed as a new literary talent and tired of being asked if your first book’s main character was based on yourself, you’ll set your next book very slightly in the past (like the ’80s or ’90s, don’t get carried away) and it will center around a family secret.
The Disappointing Sophomore Effort – Title: Get out your favorite album. Rank the tracks in order of how much you like them. Take the fourth song. Print out the lyrics to that song and black out any that are well known. From the remaining lyrics, choose either the first or second half of a complete thought. Note: It must be meaningless and out of context.
“I swear I’ll head anywhere”
From the song 23, on Highly Suspect’s album, “Mister Asylum.” Meaningless and out of context, check. And it definitely has that hint of secrecy about it. Works for me!
Your second novel disappointed a lot of people. You felt pressured to finish it quickly after the success of your first novel and in hindsight it wasn’t ready. Sure it was named a Book to Read this Month by a fashion magazine but that just emphasized how few high-brow publications paid attention to it. So next you’re going to publish a collection of short stories.
The Reputation-Rescuing Collection of Stories – Title: The (if you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?) (which of the following was your favorite school field trip: museum, zoo, symphony, circus, farm, cruise, senate, theater)
“The Sloth Symphony”
Well that worked nicely. Reviewers love pointing out which story in a collection is the best, because it makes them look smart, and that makes the book sound good. And it gave you time to really hone your third novel, which is about a group of adult friends. Some of them are married, there is at least one affair going on, someone else is terminally ill, and one person hasn’t lived up to their potential professionally.
The Legacy-Building Important Literary Novel – Title: The (your first job title)s
“The Warehouse Workers”
As I’m sure most everyone says, my first job sucked. I worked in the warehouse for a nation-wide tool store. $6.25 an hour to unload trucks in 100 degree temps. Working ~20 hours on delivery days to make sure everything was sorted, shelved, and stocked on the floor with only a 30 minute lunch break. And since the bathrooms were “technically” in the warehouse area, and our clientele destroyed them on a daily basis, that was also our job. Though, to be honest, that should/could have been an entire full-time position by itself. But I digress…
Wow! Look at those awards roll in! That novel “established you as one of the most important writers of our age,” they all say! Have a little fun with the next one. The advance is big enough that you can hire a research assistant! Set parts of it in places you’ve never been! Give your protagonist a strange and metaphorical hobby, like falconry or watchmaking!
Another Literary Novel to Prove the Last One Wasn’t a Fluke – Title: (your birth month)(third most populous city in the first foreign country you ever visited)
“October in Leeds”
Since I’ve never been out of the country (sad, I know), I had to settle with a country I’d like to travel to one day. The land of Top Gear (the old, good one, not this new rubbish)… England. Though, I probably should’ve done that before this whole Brexit fiasco. Looking at the title now however, I’m thinking it has a Hugh Grant romantic-comedy vibe to it. I may just see how this plays out.
Your career is really humming along nicely now. Your book tours are only five cities long and you’re called upon to review young authors writing in the style of ‘Mornings on Brookmoor’. Time to publish a collection of all those essays you wrote for Harpers and the Paris Review.
Your Agent Pointed Out That You Could Make Some Money Without Writing Anything New – Title: You’ll need a purse or briefcase or, if you don’t have either, open your messiest desk drawer. Close your eyes, reach in and grab whatever is in the very bottom or back. Add “The Wisdom of” before that item.
“The Wisdom of Headphones”
Oh to get to this point in my career, where just my name being on the cover sells. I think I’m going to start throwing every garbage idea I have into a “story” and tuck it away for a rainy day.
Time for a final bow. You don’t publish as frequently anymore what with your semesters spent as a Distinguished Writer in Residence and writing introductions to re-issued classics. But you’ve got time for one last book in which nothing happens and you can sneak in your ruminations on mortality. The plot is non-existent and the title is impossible to remember but you’re a household name now so people will just search by that.
The Final, Contemplative Novel – Title: (Your favorite season)(you’re told that someone left a rotten egg in your house; is your first questions who, what, why, where, or how?)
Clearly, Fall (or Autumn for you fancy folks) is the best. The temps drop, along with yard maintenance. And in places where seasons are a thing, you have those nice color changes. For someone growing up in the South however, any time I don’t walk outside and immediately start sweating is good. But fuck the winter. Because of the heat, my body can’t properly deal with the cold, so that nice little 4-6 week period between Satan’s asshole and frozen tundra is just right.
And, on that note, I’m out. Follow me over on the Facebook for more updates and general randomness!