Vote for a Title

I need your help.

I need a working title for my WIP (“work in progress” AKA my new novel.)

Many writers wait until the end of the process to pick a title, but I’m very unsettled by not having a name for my baby, even if it could be changed at a later date. My original working title, THE CONFESSIONS OF MRS. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, can’t be used because apparently there was a book released by my publisher with a similar “Confessions of…” title.

I can’t reveal much about my novel, but I can tell you that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are characters. I am going to list the titles I currently have in the running and, if you are so inclined, please a) react with your gut when you read the titles, and then b) read my thoughts and tell me if you still feel that way. The most important reaction, however, is your gut because it’s what would lead you as a buyer to be intrigued by a book. And while literary merit is of paramount importance to me, my publisher would not be pleased if I ignored cold hard reality (AKA sales appeal.)

Without further ado:

1. ZELDA’S DIARIES

2. ZELDA, RENDERED

3. THE RENDERING OF MRS. F. SCOTT. FITZGERALD

*          *          *

My thoughts on each:

1. ZELDA’S DIARIES seems to have commercial appeal and has a similar sound to the title of my forthcoming novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL.

2. The word render loosely means to create something artistically and also, to burn. Both definitions apply literally and figuratively in the novel.

3. Again, render is important. Also, Zelda resented being thought of only as “Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald” instead of as an individual, so this title has layered meanings.

*        *         *

Okay, so now what do you think?

I would be very grateful if you would give me your thoughts, or if you have other suggestions, feel free to list those.

Thank you, in advance.

*Photo courtesy of xihearthe80sx at DeviantArt.com

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40 thoughts on “Vote for a Title

  1. Laura Kay says:

    My gut reaction was ZELDA’S DIARIES, but after looking at them for a few mins…looking at the picture…I like THE RENDERING OF MRS. F. SCOTT. FITZGERALD. The title seems to tell me there is a deeper more meaningful story than ZELDA’S DIARIES. ZELDA’S DIARIES maybe a less complex storyline…in my opinion.

  2. I like #3. Zelda’s Diaries wouldn’t have meaning to me. Zelda, Rendered makes me think of cooking (sorry). The Rendering of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald is intriguing, tells me exactly who it is about and why I should care that it is about her and here, the word rendering actually makes me think of art or “the making of” someone or something, which I guess is akin to cooking but I didn’t think of cooking in this application of the word. Hope that helps — how very exciting!

  3. My immediate response to Zelda Rendered was an image of her being heated until all the fat dripped off her. (Kind of horrible, when we consider how she died…eeek!) I guess I just associate rendering with cooking. 2 & 3 both make me think of fat.
    I kinda like the Confessions in your working title. What about Zelda’s Confessions, Zelda Confesses, The Confessions of Zelda, something along those lines?
    Her first name is so unique, it should probably be in the title, if the book is mainly about her. Scott’s Zelda is another one that comes to mind.
    What fun! 🙂

    • erikarobuck says:

      Yes, I’m thinking more and more that ZELDA, RENDERED will remind people of cooking fat off of her, which is grotesque and obscene, especially because of how she died.

      Thanks for the title suggestion, Cynthia!

  4. jas says:

    Your 3rd choice felt right to me on quick glance.

  5. Kier says:

    I like #3. For those who might not know who Zelda is when walking past the cover, the Fitzgerald might give a hint. I like the word “rendering”…it makes me think of an artist creating. Can’t wait to read it! I hope we get to be a test audience for you again.

  6. Jeff Dougherty says:

    DEFINITELY prefer B, but C is 2nd choice…. B has, as you said, the same “feel” as “Hemingway’s Girl”… And I like the intrigue of the “, Rendered”….. When do we pre-order?

  7. Christina says:

    I know I would buy a book if it was titled Zelda’s Diaries because I would be inclined to think the author has something to reveal about Zelda. But if I were doing research on Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald I would purchase The Rendering of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald. That title implies to me that this book has more factual significance of this woman. But as a buyer I like mystery, intrigue, and reading about someone’s personal life so the intimate title of Zelda’s Diaries would have me taking that to the counter fir purchase.

  8. Emily Crum says:

    I suggest going with The Rendering of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald because of the many layers of meaning inherent in the title, and, not to put too fine a point on it, because the ones that use her first name sound like a dramatization of The Legend of Zelda. Totally not what you’re going for.

    • erikarobuck says:

      Emily–Excellent point on connecting to the Legend of Zelda. The creator of the game was inspired by Z. Fitz, but I certainly don’t want people to think of a video game first. Really, really helpful!

  9. Kristin Niesz says:

    Definitely #3, more powerful title and clearer on the content of the book. I didn’t know who Zelda was until I read The Paris Wife. Good luck! Can’t wait!!

  10. I’m most drawn to #3. I agree that not everyone would know who Zelda is by first name alone (and the name for me most reminds me of a video game of the same title that was very popular when I was a child). But #3 has a more serious but intriguing tone, so I guess it depends on whether or not that matches your book. Good luck!

  11. erikarobuck says:

    Kristin and others–thank you for pointing out that not everyone recognizes the name Zelda, but most people know who F. Scott Fitz is.

    Based on the majority of votes here, on Facebook and Twitter, and from my writing partner, I’ll go with THE RENDERING OF MRS. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD. (My publisher will probably change it anyway, but at least I can stop thinking of it as “my Zelda book.”

    You all have no idea how much I appreciate your feedback.

    Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou…

  12. Nina Badzin says:

    Gut = #3.

    You so nailed it with the title Hemingway’s Girl . . . I “get” the pressure in nailing it again. Not quite sure this is your final, final list. (I feel bad saying that . . . it’s like telling someone you don’t like their boyfriend two days before they get engaged.)

  13. Nina Badzin says:

    By the way, I remember when we (we, being your readers) got to weigh in the last title too. Fun!

  14. I have a completely different suggestion. Title should meet both commercial appeal (rather sales appeal) and should not lose track of the base line of the book. So why not some thing different like this

    RENDER, ZELDA, RENDER

  15. LOL – and I only just saw that you already decided to go with that! 🙂

  16. Sara says:

    My gut reaction was #1. There’s just something really tantalizing about the word “diaries.” There’s something exciting and interesting about it. I would DEFINITELY pick up that book if I saw it in a store. It hints of secrets and the chance to read into Zelda’s private world.

    My second gut was #3, but it was a distant second. Because of the formality of the title (using her full married name), it struck me as sort of formal and stilted. I wouldn’t be as likely to pick this one up (based solely on title). Maybe there’s a way to combine the two? ZELDA’S DIARIES: THE TRUE STORY OF AMERICA’S FIRST FLAPPER or ZELDA’S DIARIES: THE TRUE STORY OF MRS. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD etc. etc.??

  17. Sara says:

    PS: This is fun! Thanks for inviting us to be a part of your process! 🙂

  18. David Everett says:

    Erika,
    No. 1 gets my vote. While #2 has some appeal, the multiple meanings of “render” put me off. They are industrial and harsh in tone and word memory. If you could come up with another word . . .
    I suspect publishers would prefer the reader-pulling #1, too.
    Good luck!
    David

  19. Erika I think Zelda’s Diaries should be considered most seriously if only because of the sound of the words alone. The D in Zelda and the D in Diaries flow nicely together and it’s easy to say. The Rendering of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald seems to me a bit of a mouthful.

    Flapper is also such a nice sounding word that sounds like exactly what it is, and of course, who can say flapper without thinking of Zelda. Maybe there is a place for flapper in the title.

    Whatever you choose, we are behind you completely.

    • erikarobuck says:

      Joseph–Oh, you speak of the language and you pull me right in. I will, of course, put all of these titles before my editor. This is just to satisfy my obsessive naming behavior. And wouldn’t you know that I continue to think of it as “The Zelda Book?”

      I like the idea of using the word flapper. I’m intrigued by the phrase “Jazz Age Priestess” I found in a review of her art. Then, there’s the title of her art gallery showing, “Sometimes Madness is Wisdom,” a reference to the tradition of the dancer, Diaghilev, that emphasized art as a mode of emotional expression.

      The real title is waiting for me to find it, but all of these are important on the journey.

      Thank you all, again, for your input.

  20. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) says:

    My gut says #1. I agree with Joseph that the last choice seemed to be a mouthful even though it does clear up who the novel is about. Diaries seems very intriguing and I look forward to finding out what you reveal!

    Being from the Midwest, rendering does not provoke good thoughts. Or good smells. Blech.

    Good luck with your decision and thanks for letting us help!

  21. Erika– I have to say that my family had a breakfast table conversation about your title. I’ve been away from internet access for a few days, but find it interesting that a lot of our comments about each are discussed in the comments above mine here …
    Everyone agrees (6 people here) that the name Zelda instantly brings up Zelda the warrior princess and the Legend of Zelda video game. And we also agree that a long and formal title leads the reader to believe that the book is more like a biography or book of facts.
    A couple of our winners:
    The Secret Life of Zelda Fitzgerald,
    The Secret World of Zelda Fitzgerald,
    The Other Side of Zelda Fitzgerald
    … or something along those enticing lines that draws the reader to believe she / he will find out something juicy, new, fresh, and a new side to Z.F. that we don’t know about yet. Also, I think with her last name attached to Zelda, we’ll know it’s not about the fantasy video game. :o)
    And, I can’t wait to hear more about it! (And read it, as well as HG.) Whatever title that agrees with you will be the perfect one to go with … you have a great gut instinct. Godspeed!

  22. Erika Robuck says:

    Okay, now to really shake things up, I had coffee with my boys’ retired pediatrician yesterday and he suggested REMEMBERING ZELDA. I’m going with it. It’s short, succinct, the book is a remembrance, and it won’t conjure up thoughts of bacon fat. The word “remembering” has an historical feel so it shouldn’t confuse gamers.

    So, for now, that’s it! 🙂

  23. Jeanine says:

    I am with #3. I would walk right past the book if it said, “Zelda ______.” You want the reader to know then novel is tied into Fitzgerald – someone everyone knows.

  24. Mariana says:

    definitely Zelda’s Diaries! I think the use of render is too confusing for the average reader, and not catchy enough.

  25. girlparker says:

    In the cooking world, Render, usually has a melting down connotation… Hate to say it, but the first thing I thought of was the recipe instruction to “render the fat.” Possibly not what you were going for?

    How about a take on something by FSF… “This side of Zelda” ?

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