Monday, January 08, 2007

On titles

I've actually been meaning to post this for rather awhile now, but just haven't gotten around to it for a number of reasons, but following the post of a few minutes ago -- also about the novel -- this seemed like a perfectly appropriate time.

I'm still working on a novel that reads, "UNTITLED," at the top of the title page. This is, of course, the norm for me. Generally speaking, it's not until I'm at least halfway through, and quite often not until I'm at the end of something, before I know what the right title is. That's because, quite often, I don't have the foggiest idea what it is I'm writing about until I'm at least half-way through, or, quite often, at the end.

I already had a title that was bouncing around in my head: "Absence of Faith." It was a title I'd tacked onto a never-completed short story some years ago, taken from a chunk of lyric in a Nine Inch Nails song. I'd always liked the way those three words fell together. They seem to say so much with so very little.

But a few months back, another title idea came to me.

I was having a drunken conversation with a roommate who, just before going to bed, said something to me about "significant epiphanies." The rest of his sentence was muddied by out mutual drunkeness.

But the phrase "significant epiphanies" stood out to me.

I'd always liked the word "epiphany", specifically the third definition provided by

a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
And so the two-word phrase hung around in my head for awhile, mostly because I liked the word epiphany, and because the character in the novel would have a few, and because they would, occasionally, be significant.

But something about it bugged me too. Too many syllables. Too clunky. Too awkward. It needed something to help clean it up.

After a few days, my brain came up with something new -- one word the same, one word completely new: "Everyday Epiphanies"

Still a lot of syllables, sure, but it's made a little easier to swallow by the fine use of alliteration. Which I usually detest. Well, which I always detest. But for some reason, this one I could swallow. Because it worked. Because it wasn't the significant epiphanies that I cared about. The significant ones always stand out. That's what makes them significant. It's the everyday epiphanies, the ones we almost don't notice, the ones that you almost throw away, those are the extraordinary ones. And those are the ones that are the most important to my character.

So there it is -- a second title option, making two titles with two very opposite meanings. Both very appropriate for one novel.


1 comment:

Jamie H said...

My vote goes to Everyday Epiphanies. Absence of Faith sounds cliche to me but maybe that's just cuz I'm a NIN fan too :-) And yes, Everyday Epiphanies is far better than Significant Epiphanies. Significant Epiphanies almost sounds like a redudnant phrase.