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What I Learned About Writing Titles and Title Reveal: WIDER THAN THE SKY


My first book already had a title. Like a teen who decides to change her name before heading to camp for the summer, my book's first name was cut away. But its first title, Hope and Other Feathered Things, will always be a part of the story of this book, my first book but not my last. My debut novel, and the book that put my on the pathway toward becoming an author, will be WIDER THAN THE SKY.

As in love as I was (and still am, a bit) with the book's first title, I didn't come up with it. My former critique group member, Amanda Klase, came up with the title during the epic critique that would start me on the journey toward querying the novel to agents. But here's what I loved about it: it is both whimsical ad catchy. It's sweet and a little funny, and at its core, it is a deep cut of a thing, true in a personal, irreverent way.

The title of a book is part of the story of that book. It's a case for it, a shell in which the whole can be carried How it came to be titled is part of that story. The new title was part of a marketing and editorial decision, but the title came from a list my agent and I made. It refers to a poem of Emily's Dickinson's The Brain is Wider Than the Sky. I have fallen in love with the title, now, and I like the case of this book.

But, it has also taught me not to get attached to titles. Now, I write a title and it's not necessarily a placeholder, but it's just an idea. It's one idea among many, which is a great way to go about it. When I have a full draft, I go through and look for phrases (often dialogue) that are catchy, or that are a touchstone for one of the characters. Sometimes I use a piece of one of my character's poems.

But I try not to get attached. And judging from the experiences of many Roaring 20s Debut authors, title changes happen. So, keep a list of options. You may need it when you sell your book!

© Copyright 2020 all photographs are my originals.

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designed and illustrated by danika Corrall