I have this novella I’m trying to title, and the search . . . isn’t going well.
In the course of hunting for a suitable title, I’ve been thinking about the structure of such things. And, of course, having thought about that, the next thing to do is look at my own ouevre and investigate what sorts of patterns I use more or less frequently.
(What? I may not be a biologist, but Isabella gets her scientific turn of mind from somewhere. Also, procrastination.)
The material below the cut is a breakdown of every title I’ve put on a piece of fiction — and in one case, a piece of nonfiction — since I produced my first piece of theoretically professional work, leaving out those where the title was not wholly up to me. (Mostly pieces that amount to work-for-hire.) I’ve included unpublished works and fanfiction in the mix, since that expands the data set by quite a bit, but not titles that ended up being discarded along the way.
( Data below the cut )
Despite my general allergy to the “Noun of Noun” structure (which I consider to be the most overused thing in fantasy), it’s hanging in there in second place. Ah well: at least I do what I can to liven it up, either by complicating the structure, or by picking unusual components to plug into it. I’m also somewhat started to find that I’ve got that many simple “Noun” titles; I would not have guessed it was so common in my work. I’m not surprised to find “Adjective Noun” leading the pack, though. When I first learned to write short stories, there was a stretch of time where pretty much everything I wrote had a title in that format, until I kicked myself into thinking up other possibilities. On the flip side, I’ve made remarkably little use of the “Noun’s Noun” format, which most of the time is just “Noun of Noun” doing a do-si-do.
The two I find particularly noteworthy are the “Phrase/Quotation” catch-all category, and “X Prep X.” I hadn’t realized I used the latter so frequently, though I knew it was a structure I liked. As for the former, the Onyx Court novels and stories notwithstanding, a lot of the examples there are from fanfiction. That suggests I feel more freedom to play around with fanfic, as opposed to my professional work. Given that back in 2005, a part of me was concerned that “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood” was too overwrought to use, I suspect I could stand to loosen up more with my titles in general — though maybe not to the extent of the “Ridiculous” category. ;-)
(Actually, that’s exactly the kind of thing I want to do with this novella title. The problem is, my brain has latched onto “In Your Heart Shall Burn,” which would be perfect except for the fact that it’s the name of a main plot quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition.)
Does this get me any closer to having a title for the novella? Nope. But it’s interesting to look at anyway. I’d be curious to hear what patterns exist in other people’s work, and what titles — of your work or others’ — you find particularly striking.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.