Choosing a Title (and losing my mind)

January 21, 2016

 

As we all know, a title is the first element we see of a written work. A title determines how the reader approaches it, determining expectations, and winning or losing an audience. No pressure on the author, right? A title might distill the essence of a poem or story. It might be obvious, like a news headline. I'm title-challenged right now for a novel coming out this spring.

 

I started with the title, "Skylark Spring," after writing the first draft of my first novel--expected release, sometime in April.

 

My worthy advisors with Booktrope have told me the above title reads "Harlequin Romance." And that's not what the novel is. Its protagonist is a male hairdresser in a small West Texas town whose main problem is learning how to be alone. Charley is always filling voids--with women, cars, dogs, and silly purchases. Then an alluring stranger comes to town, a lady drummer in a country band, and she carries information with her that will set the wheels of reconciliation and redemption for our heroic but troubled hairdresser and, at the same time, his mother, whose sadness and related addictions have colored Charley's life.

 

I wanted "skylark" in the title because there's a 1998 Buick Skylark as a member of the supporting cast. There's also significance in the song, "Skylark," the old jazz standard by Hoagy Carmichael, and there's added meaning suggested by the mating practices of the skylark bird himself.

 

So, to get away from the sort of drippy sound of "Skylark Spring," I chose "The Lark." It's more muscular. Hey, "The Help" did all right. "The Lark" suggests a good time, which there's plenty of in the novel, with honky-tonks, hometown parades, and romance (frisky) under the old windmill. There's pain along with the fun, though, so going back to a more serious tone, I thought of "Lark Song." But that's like "Skylark Spring." Then there's "Having a Lark in Sulfur Gap," "Sulfur Gap Lark," and "A Lark in the Gap." It's not getting any better. Need something cute, witty, but not-too-cute.

 

Comments welcome.

 

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