Titles

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  • #2318
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Hi guys,

    Titles are important, right, and annoyingly, I haven’t yet found the right one for my novel (I mean, it’s only been 3 years).

    I know this will be really tricky for you guys, having not read the thing, but I wonder if you could help me at all to brainstorm ideas? I’ve outlined where I’m at below.

    The elevator pitch of the the novel is: “A missing child is found alive seven years after her abduction. But what if the loving family she returns home to are not as blameless as they seem?”

    I would describe the book as a family drama with some elements of a psychological thriller, and a moral question at it’s centre. It’s written in a fairly pacy style, but with a strong focus on the family bonds, responsibilities, emotions and relationships. It is told from the alternating POVs of the girl’s mother and the girl’s same-age cousin (she is 15). The mother’s arc is a redemption story; the cousin’s arc is coming-of-age.

    Maybe… Jodi Picault meets Liane Moriaty?

    Key themes / words are:
    culpability
    family
    parent / child roles, childhood, adulthood, parenthood
    abduction
    trauma
    reunification
    reconciliation
    (false) perfection, happy endings
    lies, secrets, truth
    guilt / innocence

    The current title is: Here Ends an Abduction.

    Feedback from agent Sarah is that we need to change this title (and I totally agree). Her comment is: “[my feeling] is that ‘abduction’ in the title feels too violent and harsh. I like the ‘here ends’ idea, but I do think we need to come up with something that is intriguing and emotive but not quite as harsh.”

    So, if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them… Thank-you for all brainstorming suggestions.

    #2319
    Jonathan
    Participant

    In my head I am wanting to focus on the seven years. Seven is a highly symbolic number. Seven year itch, seven colours of the rainbow. Seven seconds, seventh son of a seventh son. Seven deadly sins, seven horcruxes if you like Harry Potter. I think it’s the first “difficult” number for children to master in multiplication. She’s been gone seven years, from age eight. Hmm, nothing’s coming right now, but I’m definitely feeling 7. Tell us more about the girl who is abducted? What’s she like before, during, and after? What’s her arc? What quirks and oddities does she possess?

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by Jonathan.
    #2321
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Yes, abducted aged 8, now 15. She grew up enmeshed with her cousin – they were like twins in a fairy-tale. She is blonde, her cousin brunette. Otherwise, an unstable childhood; her biological dad is estranged. Brought up by her step-dad since aged 4, and has twin half-brothers (now aged 7).

    #2322
    Philippa East
    Participant

    During the abduction, she believed her family had abandoned her. Now that she has returned, she doesn’t know whom to trust, or where her “real” home is. She clings to cousin Jess, she mistrusts the adults, in the end she turns on her cousin too (bit of an all-is-lost moment there, before the end).

    #2324
    Bella
    Participant

    A few initial ideas – not sure if they are anything like suitable:

    She once was lost

    But now she’s found

    (Been playing Amazing Grace…)

    Re-filling the nest

    Stolen childhood

    #2327
    Daedalus
    Participant

    Interesting one. Titles can be hard. Sometimes a really perfect one will just present itself. Other times…

    I was looking, as I’m sure you have, at a thesaurus to see if it was possible to simply replace ‘abduction’. The best I could do was ‘Here Ends the Absence’, or possibly ‘Here Ends the Departure’ which I’m not sure really does it.

    #2330
    Squidge
    Participant

    I like the ‘Here Ends…’, but what to say is ending.

    …the Seven Years of Pain
    …the Seven Years of Separation.
    Why not something like Seven Years Apart or The seven years of separation. The End Begins Here…? Just playing now!

    I also wonder if some of the other themes are more relevant to the title? There are an awful lot of themes going on – if you could pick just one or two, what would it be?

    I’ve also got a creative exercise I could mail you with, where you let your subconscious find the way to the answer… I blogged about it in my Wolves and Apples post on the Scribbles. Worked for me, in that it pointed me away from the person to the central power in the story. (Still got to actually work out the title though!)

    #2331
    Alan Rain
    Participant

    I think, Philippa, you’ve come near to a good title yourself in your post above. How about:
    ‘Unmeshed’

    I have a thing for 1-word titles.

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by Alan Rain.
    #2332
    Jonathan
    Participant

    Maybe “Seven Years Gone?” Just simple and kind of … vaguely … title-ish? Or maybe just her name. Or what about those title generators or standard methods for titling a book, eg this? Or maybe something that could be a quote at the moment of change that hints at the situation: “Abby Smith Is Hiding” or something.

    #2336
    Thea
    Participant

    Hi Philippa, ‘Lost and Found?’ with or without the question mark, popped into my mind, I think because of the railway scene in your story. Perhaps if you simply included a question mark in your current title it would convey that the abduction is still haunting the family. Also, I really like Jonathan’s idea of using the number seven in the title.

    #2345
    Elle
    Participant

    Hi Philippa,

    From all the information gathered I would suggest:

    – Missing You (works on several level depending on who the sentence refers to or who us doing the miss – if that makes sense)

    – The Other You

    – The Way Home (again can be interpreted on several levels)

    – Little Girl Lost (again lost can be interpreted on several levels)

    – Here Ends the Innocence or The End of Innocence

    For me ‘Seven’ just reminds me of the film and also makes me think of Thirteen which was a series but covers a similar subject.

    #2346
    Seagreen
    Participant

    You talk about bonds and use the term ‘enmeshed’ so I’m going for The Untangling.

    #2347
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Oh my goodness, guys, what great suggestions! I will check out those links too.


    @Squidge
    , I’d love to take a look at your exercise if you can send it?

    The focus for the book is about whether and how a family can truly reconcile after such a trauma, and what level of culpability a family must ultimately shoulder. Much time in the book is spent in characters covering over flaws and struggling to confront guilt.

    #2353
    KazG
    Participant

    I keep coming back to the words enmeshing/unmeshing. For me that feels really evocative of family tendrils, the way the brain works (especially in cases of forming, breaking and reforming connections). – it makes me think of a web and a net and a loosening of patterns. Don’t know how you might use it but I love that word!
    Enmeshing Seven / Unmeshing Seven
    Seven Enmeshed /Seven Unmeshed
    The Enmeshing / Unmeshing (also love Sea’s The Untangling)

    Not sure about any of those, just throwing things out there.

    (Funnily enough, I’ve had exactly the same feedback from agent about my book title – I’m going to copy you and start a thread for help as I’m struggling too…:-) )

    #2354
    KazG
    Participant

    @alanr – just saw that I basically suggested the same as you!

    #2365
    JaneShuff
    Participant

    Brainstorming:

    An Uneasy Homecoming.
    After the Happy Ending.
    The Missing Years.
    Breaking apart.

    #2367
    RichardB
    Participant

    A Cuckoo in the Nest?

    Hmm. Possibly a bit of a cliché, but the image seems apt.

    #2374
    John S Alty
    Participant

    Tangled Web (A, The, What a, Weaving a,)
    Untangled Web

    #2384
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Thanks guys! I’m going to try and draw up a shortlist for Sarah today…

    I really appreciate all the help

    #2863
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Hi guys,

    To update: the title Sarah and I have decided on (for now) is….

    After We Found Her

    What’s in a name, eh?

    #2867
    Daedalus
    Participant

    That works. Nice and simple!

    #2869
    Raine
    Participant

    Sounds good. Plenty of things said and unsaid in there. Of course, now you’ve spent ages deciding on that, your editor will definitely want to change it again!!

    #2882
    Elle
    Participant

    I like it. As @raine said it strikes the right balance of things said and unsaid.

    #2898
    Thea
    Participant

    Yes, great title, Philippa. It’s both concise and intriguing.

    #2904
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Glad you guys like it! Thanks again for all your helpful input on this. Titles clearly aren’t my forte….

    #2909
    Alan Rain
    Participant

    Okay, good. No more indecision.

    #2911
    KazG
    Participant

    Yes, that’s good. Intriguing, suggestive and evocative. Well done, that’s a relief! 🙂

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