the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

What’s in a title?

on December 13, 2011

I’m never happy with my writing unless I find a suitable title.  This is not always easy to do and I tend to go for one-word titles as a way of shortening the search.  I notice that several of Toni Morrison’s books have one-word titles including Beloved, Paradise and Jazz.  I frequently wonder if a one-word title gives too much information away, revealing the theme of the novel on the front cover. I had a feeling that Ugly by Constance Briscoe might have set a trend in the use of one-word titles for tragic life stories, although a quick look on the bookshelf in Waterstones seemed to suggest otherwise. Interestingly, Room by Emma Donoghue is fiction and relates to the abduction and rape of a young woman and the birth and imprisionment of mother and child.  The story is narrated by five-year-old Jack who has the habit of omitting definite articles and refers to nouns only as ‘room’, ‘rug’, ‘lamp’. It’s an interesting literary device to illustrate his otherness but unlikely when his mother provides a good model of standard English. 

Finally, I’d like to mention Broken by Daniel Clay.  This is an unusual debut novel that reveals community tensions when Rick Buckley is beaten up as the result of a  false charge of rape by a neighbour’s daughter. He becomes Broken of the title and teeters on the edge while his parents agonise.  Daniel is now working on his second novel and hosts a blog which offers advice for aspiring writers. He’s also willing to look at your covering letter, synopsis and opening pages as a way of encouraging writers to make successful approaches and get published.  I suggest that anyone who is struggling to make headway through the slushpile should have a look here.

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