word craft



Cre­at­ing a good title for a book is hard. I’ve writ­ten some strong ones, The True Con­fes­sions of Char­lotte Doyle, and some weak ones, Shadrach’s Cross­ing. Just today, I had a dis­cus­sion with my edi­tor about my soon to be pub­lished book. I’ve been call­ing it Decep­tion. “I’m not sure,” she said, “it’s strong enough. Let’s talk.” A good/weak title can help/hurt a book. Dur­ing the writ­ing process, titles often change. The work­ing title of True Con­fes­sions of Char­lotte Doyle, was The Sea­hawk. My first title for Crispin: the Cross of Lead, was No Name. For Pop­py, it was The Owl in the Dead Tree. For City of Orphans, The Boy Detec­tive. Noth­ing but the Truth was Dis­cov­ery. If you know these books, the dis­card­ed titles will explain them­selves. Years ago, when search­ing for a title, I read part of a new book to a class. Once fin­ished, I asked the kids if any one had an idea for a good title. A girl raised her hand and said, “Some­thing Upstairs.” Bin­go! This time, not so easy.

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