Title Search

ShakespheareWhat’s in a name? No, wait, that’s Shakespeare. Wrong author! I’m supposed to be channeling Jane Austen! Let me try again.

“…But there is nobleness in the name of Edmund.  It is a name of heroism and renown – of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections.”  (Mansfield Park, chapter 22)

Fanny Price imbues her beloved Edmund’s name with more latent significance than most of us would, but we at least consider the meanings in the Baby Name Book before deciding what moniker our children will be saddled with for life.

Authors give nearly as much thought to what to title their latest ‘darling child’ before sending it out into the world. It should be something catchy and memorable. It also should give the reader some clue as to what to expect inside the cover.

I actually have a lot of fun with titles, especially chapter titles or names for blog posts, where less is at stake. It tickles me when I can use a fancy word: Elucidation (used as a chapter title in not one but two of my books). I’m a fan of alliteration too, like Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility), as evidenced by these chapter titles among others: Sisterly Society, Richard Returns, Wardrobe Woes, Demands of Duty, Company Coming.  I’m not above borrowing a famous phrase now and then: The Play is the Thing, Miles to Go, Teacher Know Thyself, A Tale of Two Movies. And if I can incorporate an inside joke or some double meaning, so much the better: chapter titles Taken For a Ride and Bump in the Road apply literally as well as figuratively. “Persuasion” in my title The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen refers both to her novel and the fact that she herself was persuaded to give up the man she wanted. Even the title of this blog post has more than one meaning.

I may be outdoing myself on this new book, though (see work-in-progress ). I’m only eight chapters in and I’ve already got some delightful chapter titles, imho. Here they are: Light Dawns, Making Jambalaya, A Day at Disneyland, Possibilities and Perplexities, The Dearly Departing, A Two-Horse Race, Tie Breaker, Going for Broke.

The bigger challenge, however, is coming up with a title for the book itself.

Since it will be part of a series (see Crossroads Collection), I’d love to do something clever with all the titles, like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc.). I thought of copying the idea, only using First, Second, Third, etc. in each of the successive titles instead of One, Two, Three. Using the word “Leap” in each title would be another way to go. Appropriate, too, since the first one is already tentatively titled Leap of Faith and all will involve time travel. Or I could abandon using a theme word and title each one individually, in which case this new book may end up being called Pemberley or Bust!

Northanger Abbey coverI guess I’m not the only one who has struggled with indecisiveness in this area. Jane Austen changed the titles to at least three of her books before publication. First Impressions became Pride and Prejudice. Elinor and Maryanne became Sense and SensibilityNorthanger Abbey underwent the most transformations. Austen originally called it Susan, after the heroine. Then she changed not only the title of the novel but the heroine’s name to Catherine to avoid confusion with another book that had come out. It was ultimately published as Northanger Abbey after her death.

As for the titles of my upcoming novels (I hope to publish the first two in the series together later this year), I still have time to make up my mind. But I’d love to hear your opinions and brilliant suggestions on the subject! Themed or independent titles? Leap of Faith and Pemberley or Bust? Or propose something of your own.


3/28/16 Update:  After more thought and some reader feedback, I think I’m going to go with the idea of using the word “leap” in all the titles in this series. “Leap of Faith” for the first one, as planned, and maybe “Leap of Hope” for the second, allowing the subtitle and the cover design to supply more information as to what each of the books is about. I might even change the name of the heroine of the second from Katie to Hope to match the title. What do you think?

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, Shannon Winslow's writing, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Title Search

  1. darcy400 says:

    I like Leap of Faith, it has a double meaning for me as in my Faith in God and Lizzie’s faith in Darcy 🙂

  2. Betty Campbell Madden says:

    I like series titles when they are, indeed, related stories. A plus, I trust, would be that the path to the next title would be narrowed by the parameters of the title theme. However, whatever the title, Shannon, the most important information on the cover will be your name, to which my reaction will be my eagerness to curl up and read it. I love paperbacks, but new releases by my must-read authors do provide immediate gratification. And I used to be so patient . . ..

  3. Anji says:

    I love a bit of time travel with my JAFF, Shannon. I also like the idea of themed titles for your new series, providing you can think up enough of them. I’m useless at that sort of thing myself, though.

    Good luck with the eventual launch. So far, TPoMJA is still my favourite of your books, though I’ve enjoyed all of them so far. Still got For Myself Alone on the TBR list.

    • Oh, I thought you were going to give me some help, Anji! But if you’re “useless” I guess I”m on my own. 🙂 I’m really torn between wanting themed titles and wanting the freedom to let each title more clearly reflect what that particular book is about. They will all be subtitled “Book 1 of Second Chances series,” etc. in any case.

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed all my books so far. The real question is will that be enough to get you to read a non-JAFF book written by me? This new series isn’t necessarily JAFF, just the one book, which I hope will bridge my readers across the great divide between JAFF and any other genre. There will be romance in everything I write, so that much stays the same.

  4. I like Leap of Faith or perhaps….When Am I? (Instead of where am I?). I adored TPoMJA. I am a big fan of time travel as well as sci/fantasy as well as JAFF (of course).

  5. Lucia Milella says:

    Dear Ms Winslow – I just finished reading “For Myself Alone” .  It was wonderful – you are fantastic at imitating Jane Austen’s style.  I love all her stories and therefore yours as well.  I noticed all the lines from other stories that you “borrowed” and they only added to my enjoyment.  I thank you so much for your great talent and I thank God for it as well.  Please keep your wonderful stories coming. Sincerely, Lucia Milella

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Lucia. It really is encouraging to hear that what I do adds enjoyment to the lives of others! And yes, if I have talent, please thank God for it. I cannot take the credit. Writing is a gift and a pure pleasure for me. I certainly intend to keep at it as long as I can!

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