With two works-in-progress, both starting to come together, I’m currently stumped by that age-old issue: the title.
Should it be short and sweet, or descriptive? Should it be tantalisingly obscure? Or bare bones simple?
This was an issue that I grappled with a bit when naming my novel ‘The Artemis Effect’, and I think it’s fairly clear that I went for the hopefully tantalisingly obscure in that case! In fact, there wasn’t a simple word or phrase which would sum the story up, so I looked for a unifying theme: in that case, the goddess Artemis, who is not only sometimes associated with the Moon, but is also a protector of women in childbirth, of wild places, and has a hunting aspect which seemed quite appropriate.
Both the new works are collections, so it’s a little more tricky. The first, which has been taking up a great deal of my available time, is an anthology of women writing about their experiences of motherhood. It’s a diverse, exciting project, with artwork, poetry, essays, short fiction and interviews. But should we stick to a simple descriptive word for the title, or go for something more descriptive of the contents?
The second is my own collection of short stories. They are generally fantasy / sci fi based, but again fairly varied. I’m thinking vaguely of plumping for a title which is lifted from a line of poetry, but perhaps that’s just a bit too artsy-fartsy. Other great collections I’ve read are either straight down the line “Collected works of….”, which of course rather assumes that you have heard of the great ….., or are pretty obscure. Think ‘Kiss Kiss’ by Roald Dahl, or ‘Sexing the Cherry’ by Jeanette Winterson.
I’d really love to know what you think. Does an intriguing title ever grab you forcefully enough to make you want to read a book? Or would you prefer to know what you’re getting? Can a long title be a turn off as you browse the multitude of work out there? All help appreciated!