Some of our clients come to us with a title already picked out, before they've even begun to write. Others wait for the title to be revealed to them in the writing. Which way is better? It depends.
We get asked this question a lot: how do I choose a title for my book?
Should I start with a title?
Choosing a title for your memoir, especially a thematic title, before you start your project can be a great guiding force, helping you narrow the focus of your book as you write. For instance, Arthur and Lila Mae Debenham had chosen a title for their book years before they even started the process: Tender Mercies. They knew they wanted their book to reflect the "tender mercies" that God had bestowed upon them in their course through life, and this theme guided our efforts in the writing process, helping us decide what events to include and what to leave out.
But if you don't have a title already picked out, don't panic. It's much more common for writers to choose a title after they've begun or even finished writing. Often, the writing process itself will reveal a theme, phrase, or tone that suggests a title.
Start by considering what themes run through your narrative. What are the most important ideas in your book? Love, faith, survival? Look for a title that reflects the message you want to convey. Here are some examples of thematic titles from some of our clients:
Look Beyond the Weeds by Beverley Sorenson Taylor reflects her undying optimism and positive outlook expressed in her book, despite some difficult circumstances.
Unfaltering Faith by Hank Hoole details the author's religious conversion and how his faith has shaped his life. Riches of His Grace by Fay Miles and the above-mentioned Tender Mercies also reflect this theme.
Life is What You Make It by Nif Hicken. This title was a direct quote from Dr. Hicken that summed up his philosophy. "Life is what you make it. It's up to you to make it good and happy."
Dancing My Way Through Sanpete by Lois Johnson and I Could Have Danced All Night by Barbara Christensen each incorporated their authors' love of dance.
Puns, double meanings, word play, and humorous titles
Some day I will write a memoir entitled The Road Unraveled (a play on M. Scott Peck's book titled The Road Less Traveled, which was in turn taken from a line from a Robert Frost poem.) I wrote a little book about my childhood called Alison Wonderland, which is what my grade school nemesis used to call me.
Author: Lusanda (Grade 12)
School: LEAP Science and Maths School
Publisher: FunDza Literacy Trust
Genre: Non Fiction (True Life Story)
Life’s a Journey and mine went this way
Life is a journey filled with impressions left upon one; some from sights, some from words. It is these impressions that create the person we are. Some impress so deeply they become the foundation we build our morals and ethical standards on.
As a young woman I grew up having dreams that one day I would be in a school that would give me a better education. In 2008 I arrived at LEAP school. I felt like God now was on my side and He had opened the first gate for me. I felt my heart dancing because I was so overwhelmed that I was chosen to be part of LEAP. I loved the welcome that I was given by the school. I had a feeling inside that this would be my second family.
In life there are people who are wet blankets and people who support you. I had a problem with my community. The people would say to me, “It’s useless to go to school in the morning and come back at night, without any good results.” I felt like my heart was sinking into the deepest ocean because I did not understand why these people couldn’t be happy for me because I was still at school. I was not like the other township girls who drank and used drugs.
I had a talk with my mother about the problem. She advised me and said, “In life people always have something to say, so just ignore what they say and take that as an encouragement.” Ever since then I took that quote as a principle or value to live by.
The teenage stage of life is a big stage. As teenagers, we are old enough to make our own decisions. Teenage years are filled with challenges and consequences. I fell pregnant in 2010. I felt embarrassed and shy because it felt like I had disrespected my family and my school. I felt like giving up on everything, and that it was the end of my life. My family and the school gave me support and they did not judge me for what had happened. I asked myself, ‘Why should I give up? I am not the first and last teenage mother. ‘
I have a quote that says, ‘If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.’ This quote has become a sort of credo that I recently decided to live by. It has motivated me to take the next step to pursue my dreams.
I went back to school after the birth of my child and now I am doing Matric. I have long had expectations of myself. Through integrity, perseverance and hard work I will reach my goal of becoming a Financial Advisor.
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