Monday, 30 October 2017

What's in a Title?

What’s in a Title?

Sometimes a title can cause more cogitation than the rest of the book. Sometimes the title arrives first and drives the story.
I have to have a title right from the start, even if it's only a working title.

Bk.1. in the 'Lords of the Matrix Club' series is 'The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife' - a bit of a mouthful! Originally I thought it only the working title, believing a better, catchier handle would make itself known before I'd finished writing the book.
Apart from the fact nothing better came to light, I read somewhere that the busy modern reader doesn't have time to read a lengthy blurb to find what the book is about and the title should encapsulate this. 
'The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife' did that, for the Earl had no intention of ever doing that one thing! Sexually abused and psychologically damaged as a young man, he considered he could never be husband to the genteelly raised woman he'd loved all his life. Miss Jassie Carlisle was twenty-five before she decided to take matters into her own hands and though marriage was not actually what she'd been angling for the outcome meant Windermere's honor forced them to the altar.
That being the case, Jassie would accept nothing less than a proper marriage—for her love was unconditional and he would eventually come to understand and accept that too.
‘An Unconditional Love’ could have been the title, but didn’t give a feeling of the genre or the era. But it’s a great Tagline.

Bk.2. ‘The Perfect Duchess’ began with a working title of ‘Marked for the Duke’. In the eyes of the ton Lady Sherida Dearing was the epitome of the perfect duchess, an exquisitely beautiful and elegant blonde with a persona that had earned her the nickname ‘Heavenly Iceberg’.
She also had a reputation for turning away would-be suitors as soon as they showed an interest. But Lady Sheri had two secrets—that she knew about. (The other was known only to her mother.) The first was that she’d loved the Duke of Wolverton since the night of her come-out ball and before he’d become the Duke, and she’d long since determined she’d remain single rather than settle for second best.
The Duke however, loved Lady Jassie from Bk.1. and had been instrumental in helping the Windermere’s overcome their problems. A true hero, in fact.
Sheri’s second secret was the birthmark across her chest which made her anything but perfect, a fact known only to her mother and her maid. If her dream were to be fulfilled and the Duke asked her to be his wife, would the sight of her naked imperfection disgust him? Could he ever come to love an imperfect perfect duchess?
The issue of her perfection (or not!) became the driving force of the book, hence the title showed itself quite clearly.
As did the Tagline – ‘An Imperfect Perfect Duchess’.

Bk.3. ‘The Virgin Widow’ started as several variations on ‘An Angel for Hades’.
Lady Angela Jane Rotherby was the widow of a much older man who’d married her to keep her from being forced by her father into accepting a very undesirable husband. The moment I realized Lady Jane (as she preferred to be called) was still a virgin, the title was obvious.
It took Lord Haden (Hades) Baxendene a little longer than it took me to discover the real reason a thirty year old widow was reluctant to play the games with him every other widow was clamoring to play.
I’m not sure about the Tagline for this one – something about ‘The Masks Behind Which People Live’ perhaps. Or ‘All Is Not As It seems’!
Lord Baxendene had a few shocking secrets to learn about other people he loved and believed in as well, which forced him to realize he wasn’t the man he’d always believed himself to be either.

I’m now writing Bk.4. in the series, Lord Knightsborough’s (a.k.a. ‘Knight’) story. He’s a dark, broody character and I really wanted to call this one ‘The Dark Knight’, for it appeals to my love of plays on words.
But sadly, that title evokes another era and genre entirely. I didn’t want to mislead my readers. So it is ‘The Dark Lord’. I am well into it now and no other title is presenting itself.
‘The Dark Lord’ feels as if it has simply settled in.
Now to discover the elusive Tagline – something about a ‘light in the darkness’.
The heroine, an ‘Original’ in Regency terms, arrives at his door gun-in-hand and dressed in male attire, so this might give a hint as to where the ‘light’ comes from!
She is certainly blasting Knight out of the ever-deepening gloom into which he’s been sinking of late.

This guy seemed to epitomize Knight for me so I borrowed his picture from the internet to use as inspiration. I’m sharing him as I don’t have the cover for this book yet.

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