Friday, January 22, 2010

Titles are Hard.

By Bethany and Just Another Sarah's request, some title history!

The book of Genesis in the bible is believed to be composed of two main parts. The Primeval History, and The cycles of the Patriarchal Stories (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph). The Primeval History makes up the first 11 chapters or so, and includes the stories of creation and the lists of generations from Adam to Noah, and then down to Abraham. The genealogies listed in the bible, because of their complete difference in tone, are thought to have come from a hypothetical and long lost source called the book of Generations.

Since my book is multi-generational, moving through a very large volume of history and tracing the genealogy of at least one family as it does so, I felt that the title of Generations would be more fitting than to begin with Genesis. Part of the story takes place at the dawn of creation, but my book doesn't begin until after God has finished making the world. I also wanted a biblical flavor for my title, without causing public outcry--I know my subject material is going to be offensive to a lot of people who believe that the stories in the bible shouldn't be tampered with, and I don't really want to bait them further (although, book burning might increase sales!).

Of course all of this could become a moot point when and if I ever get the book sold and a publisher decides that my title is crap and unmarketable, but I'd love to be able to keep it as is. My hope is to publish a trilogy-- Generations would be followed by Genesis (once I have a fan base of people who won't be turned off) which will then, hypothetically, be followed by Exodus. Alternatively, I suppose I could have titled Generations, The Book of Eve, and made the sequel The Book of Adam, but then I wasn't sure how best to sum up the third book with the same naming convention.

Normally I'm not really good with titles. I have a hard time coming up with them and the ones that I do come up with I'm never happy with. In earlier incarnations, Generations was actually titled "Daughter of Eve" which was a pretty serious misnomer, but I hung onto it for a while and the folder on my computer which has all of my drafts and sourcework is still called "DoE Project." One of my other novels was called Life After Death, which later became Cost of Living, and I still think it's crap and refer to it in my mind as "Thairon's Book" after the leading man instead of committing to the title.

So there you have it-- the origin (genesis?) of the title for The Book of Generations. I hope I didn't bore you all (and if I did, feel free to suggest a topic more to your interest for another day!)

What's the story of your title?


  1. Cool! I like the title Book of Generations and I hope to one day see it on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. :)

    I didn't go for anything snazzy with HATSHEPSUT: FEMALE PHARAOH. Most historical fiction books I've read that focus around one central character use the character's name and a subscript. I guess I follow in Margaret George's footsteps.

  2. Have you read Margaret George? is she any good? I kind of want to get her HELEN OF TROY, but the sample chapter I read on her website didn't do much for me-- and she cut Theseus entirely from Helen's history! :( But first chapters aren't the best way to judge a book, I think, in most cases.

    I think HATSHEPSUT: FEMALE PHARAOH says it all!

  3. That was very interesting and very informative--not at all boring!

    Titles are hard, like you say in your heading. I know my novel--the one-that-shall-not-be-worked-on-right-now--has a pretty lame title most of the time. I think I kind of go along the lines of you and your Thairon manuscript. Yet with other things, it seems so much easier to find a name. I don't know why that is.

    Stephanie, I think sometimes simple is best!

    I'm glad you shared this, Amalia.

  4. Very cool.

    I brainstormed titles with the word "Control" in them. See, my book is about a brainwashing society. Ultimate control. I had about 50. I picked the ones I liked best and asked my besties.

    Control Issues was born.

  5. Sarah: I think if I ever sold that book, I'd be downright grateful to leave the naming to the publisher and wash my hands of it.

    Elana: I tried doing that with my other book-- which is how I got Cost of Living, because he's filthy rich and kind of has to make a choice between money and love. Still not happy with it :( But Control Issues sounds interesting!

  6. Very interesting post, Amalia. Thanks for sharing the story behind your title. :-)

  7. I love "Generations"! Great title.

    One little thing though - do read Margaret George's "Helen of Troy". She does miss Theseus, but it is a really good story none the less.

  8. Natalie and Shannon: thanks!

    Faithlessone: Thanks for the input! It's on my list. :)

  9. Nice title Amalia! You got it right in your 3rd paragraph though: titles have to be agreed by the editor, the sales guys and the marketing guys, all with the buyers from the big accounts in mind (= B&N, Amazon & Borders). And what they all have in mind is what is the customer in the store likely to buy?

  10. Gary--
    Precisely why Generations does not have good odds, since pretty much just the biblical scholars and the people reading this blog will get the reference.

    But at least I'm happy with it while I'm revising!


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