I’ve been whining for a while about being stuck with my writing. Pathetic. Finally, had a breakthrough over the last week (or maybe it’s my meds talking), but I feel that I’ve taken the project a few big steps forward. Mother may I? Yes, you may. And in the middle of all this new writing came the title for the screenplay as if on a silver platter with a great roast upon it. The title not only galvanized me into figuring out what the motherfucker is really about, but it also suggested a new structure, which is like getting a new engine in a car.
How important is a title, anyway? For me, it’s crucial. I won’t submit a client’s proposal unless I think we’ve nailed it. To me a great title can vastly improve one’s desire to read the work. Too many people say, “I’m not good at titles,” or, “won’t the publisher change it anyway?” I beg you: search the bible, poetry, rock lyrics, the yellow pages, titles of paintings, John Cheever’s diaries, look under rocks, couch cushions, four leaf clovers, but find a title that kills it.
When do you come up with your title, before, during or after? Where do your titles come from? Do you try them out on people? How do you know when you’ve nailed it?