On Working Titles

Maybe someone will find this interesting. I always start a story with a working title. There is always something that triggers a title idea and it usually informs something early in the story.


It gets changed at least once during the writing. Don’t ask me why but I can always count on it. The closest I’ve come to keeping a working title was North Country Girl, which was born as Girl of the North Country. Not sure why I decided to shuffle that around. It may have been easier to fit on a cover. (Not kidding).

Everything is Broken started out as Heaven Ain’t Bad. It changed after I wrote a beach scene mid book, where a small boy complains to his mother how he cannot find a seashell that isn’t broken. Somehow, I noticed a theme that ran through the book, and I changed the title. There also is a scene with Sample in the hospital that is a nod to the original Heaven Ain’t Bad title. I had been listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt at the time. My favorite song by him is “You Are Not Need Now” and the line “Heaven ain’t bad but you don’t get nothing done” has always resonated with me. Sample must have liked that line, too.

Persy’s Song began life as God’s Golden Shores. I was always a little concerned that the title would come off as a religious fiction title. I still love the title but I write crime fiction filled with drug dealers, hookers, strippers, mobsters. You get the point. When a character showed up in the story with lines from Bob Dylan’s “Percy’s Song” tattooed on her forearm. I realized her name was Persephone Song, and a title was born.

As I mentioned in my last post, the day after finishing Persy, I started a new story. It is another Fuzzy Koella case. It’s working title is The Smallwood Harp. Only ten thousand words in and I’m already entertaining at least two replacement titles. So, stay tuned.


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