I’d like to share with you the four-stage, frustrating, although ultimately successful, process of searching for and discovering the perfect title for my current WIP.
Stage One: Initial Brainstorming based on the Catalyst
I brainstormed titles based on one of the most important characters, who acts as a catalyst in Jane Eyre’s life, at the start and throughout the Eyre Hall Trilogy, Annette Mason.
The Eyre Hall Trilogy is based on the characters and events portrayed directly or insinuated between the lines of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sagasso Sea by Jean Rhys. As a result of my combined reinterpretation of both novels, my main thesis, put forward in The Eyre Hall Trilogy is that the first Mrs Rochester, Bertha Antoinette Mason, had a daughter while she was locked in her attic.
Twenty years later, when her daughter reappears at Eyre Hall, Mr Rochester denies the child, Annette, now a beautiful, young woman, is his offspring, but as he proved to be a notorious and shameless liar throughout Jane Eyre, it is hard for readers and a mature Jane, to believe him.
In The Eyre Hall Trilogy, Richard Mason, Bertha’s step-brother according to Wide Sargasso Sea, took the child to Jamaica, where he lived, in exchange for monthly payments from Mr Rochester for the child’s upkeep and his silence.
My new prequel (if you want to know why I’m writing a prequel I explain my reasons here) will culminate where All Hallows at Eyre Hall begins, that is, with Annette’s arrival at Eyre Hall with her uncle, Richard Mason, as Mr Rochester lies on his deathbed. Annette’s reappearance leads to a series of dramatic events which will cause havoc in the lives of the Rochester family and all the residents at Eyre Hall.
Bearing this crucial event in mind, I brainstormed the following titles related to Annette Mason’s return to Eyre Hall, where she had been born nineteen years earlier;
My / Her Husband’s Daughter
Mrs Rochester’s Stepdaughter
Mr Rochester’s Secret
Mr Rochester’s Secret Daughter
Bertha’s Daughter Returns to Eyre Hall
The First Mrs Rochester’s Daughter
Miss Annette Mason
Richard Mason’s Niece
The Jamaican Heiress
These titles were fitting, but I didn’t find any of them striking, and although it wasn’t strictly necessary, I wanted ‘at Eyre Hall’ in the title of the prequel like the three subsequent novels, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall and Midsummer at Eyre Hall. That meant that Bertha’s Daughter Returns to Eyre Hall was the best fit, but it was too long and disclosed too much of the mystery. I could also add ‘Returns to Eyre Hall’ in any of the previous titles, for example, The Jamaican Heiress Returns to Eyre Hall, but again, that made the titles too long or awkward, so as I wasn’t overly fond of any of the previous titles, I started from scratch, thinking up titles all over again.
Stage Two: Brainstorming Round Two for Emotions
I decided to add a specific moment in time to the title, as I had done with my previous novels, which are marked by significant festivities during which the climax of the novels occurs; All Hallows, Twelfth Night, and Midsummer.
I wanted the events in the prequel to culminate where All Hallows begins, so it had to be a festivity occurring not too long before All Hallows, which led me to a few more titles with September in mind.
Harvest Moon at Eyre Hall
September Moon at Eyre Hall
September Storm at Eyre Hall
Thunderstorm at Eyre Hall
Autumn Equinox at Eyre Hall
September Equinox at Eyre Hall
Michaelmas at Eyre Hall
Season of Mists at Eyre Hall
Again, none of these titles seemed the perfect fit, although I preferred Harvest Moon at Eyre Hall over all the others, in fact in my recent update on the prequel I’m writing to the trilogy, I said this would be the title of my new novel, but I was never entirely happy with that title, because it evoked a calm, happy, pastoral event and that is not what this novel is about.
I thought about the emotions I wanted to evoke in potential readers of my novel when they read the title, and I made a list of negative emotions and nouns such as; surprise, suspense, rage, hurt, blackmail, restitution, revenge, death, injustice, banishment, exile, justice, moment of truth, lies, and secrets. But there are also positive emotions and events, such as love, passion, forgiveness, restitution, gratitude, reconciliation, truth, honesty, rebirth, and new beginnings. Unfortunately, none of the previous titles immediately evoked those feelings, so I was back to square one, without a title.
Stage Three: Visualisation
So, I started from scratch for a third time. I slept on it and decided to search for visual stimulus by looking at premade book covers on the internet. This may seem strange to you, but I’m what many people describe as a ‘visual person’. On the one hand, my feelings and emotions are highly influenced by what I see with my eyes and my mind. I do not have a photographic mind, but I do try to visualise things in order to find them or remember them. On the other hand, I also spontaneously see what I’m reading or listening to (audiobooks, songs, conversations), in my mind’s eye.
Visualisation is also a very powerful tool for me as a writer because I ‘see’ my novel’s scenes before I write them. I act out whole scenes, conversations and places, in my mind well before I write them. I need to write a whole post about this, because sometimes I take this need to see to extremes.
Literally, I can’t write a scene if there’s a specific element I want to see and can’t figure out, so I search for it like a crazy person. This could be any prop I consider valuable to me or symbolic in the scene, such as the dress Jane is wearing, a clock on the wall, the exact colour of a character’s eyes, or a even the shape and colour of a chair!
I create and/or recreate visual representations of abstract information and ideas all the time. So, I thought looking at book covers might help. And miraculously it did, almost. I found this image by chance on The Book Cover Designer by BetiBup33 and I fell in love at once.
Even the title, Red Moon, fit perfectly. I’m a moon lover. I follow full moon rituals which I wrote about in a previous post, and I make sure to look for the moon in the sky and I follow its phases because it fascinates me. I’m delighted that my posts on The Moon in Jane Eyre are my most viewed and it’s something I share with Charlotte Bronte, the moon is not there by chance at key moments in Jane Eyre.
I showed my daughters the cover and my title, Red Moon at Eyre Hall. They are two wonderful women with a sharp eye for beautiful things (I also have a son, but he has other skills!), and they loved it, and yet, I wasn’t fully convinced. It was definitely the best title, so far, but Red Moon, sounded a bit too juvenile, or bland. Red is my favourite colour because I love the fire and strength it conveys, but it still didn’t seem powerful enough for my title.
Stage Four: Finding Perfection with some help from Google!
My next search was on the internet, I started looking for ‘Red Moon’ titles in other novels or general information on the phenomenon on specific webpages and I found many references to Blood Moon and I thought, of course, why on earth didn’t that occur to me before! I found the perfect title, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall. The title and the image with a huge, red moon in a stormy sky with a large country house below in dark shadows, transmits passion, love, mystery, nightmare, troubles, secrets unveiled, death and renewal at Eyre Hall.
So that’s how I found the perfect title for the prequel to The Eyre Hall Trilogy.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. The scenes are spinning in my mind’s eye, my handwritten notes, which I always start with before typing anything, are all over the place in several notebooks, and my chapter outlines, plot and character arcs, are still in the process of reordering and completing, but I feel strong enough to pull it all together, now that I have an image and a title. I’ve printed out the title on my Dream Board (there will be more about dream boards in another post!). So I’m good to go, and I’ll be posting regular updates on my writing process on Wednesdays.
Next week I’ll tell you all about the biblical and astrological meaning and symbolism of Blood Moon and it’s relevance to the themes and events portrayed in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall.
Well, do you think my title is a good fit for my novel?
How do you decide on the names of your novels? Do you find it tough too, or do you come up with a name instantly?
Let me know in the comments.
Important news! Freebie over the Halloween weekend!
Book One of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, (International link follows) All Hallows at Eyre Hall will be free for the first time on kindle deals to coincide with Halloween, from 29th October to the 2nd November. Make sure you download your copy!