On Book Titles

I learned this morning, while reading the preface to Ayn Rand's Anthem, that its original title wasThe Ego.  Apparently Rand always took   a working title that was blunt and explicit, one which, for her own clarity, named the central issue of the book.

I like this idea.

And so I hereby give the book(s) I'm now writing — which I have been calling Three Days in New York — a new, and more appellative, working title: Power Moves.

Once completed, Rand would rename her books with titles that still pertained to the central issue, but in an indirect and allusive way. The Strike, for example, became Atlas Shrugged.

That's the kind of title that I like. Something that is expressive, that touches the reader emotionally but leaves them to discover for themselves how it relates to the book's meaning.  

Writing in the early 20th century, Ayn Rand was free to make her choices herself.  Titles today tend to be part of what publishers like to call “the Package” and so no longer in the author's domain.  

While I was working on Lovers' Hollow, my title for it was was Going Under.  Though this seemed to me to capture the essential flavour of the book, the publishers thought it too depressing.

A Dance in Time was created as Imagining Iseult.  I still have regrets for that title.  It seems to me to fully encompass the novel in a way the chosen title doesn't.

Power Moves would be too direct for me as a published title.  But I can see the benefit in having something blunt and unemotional to refer back to as I work through scenes and sentences.

I can feel it flexing its claim on the material already.  

So thanks Ayn.

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