Working Titles – How ‘Disfigured’ Got it’s Name

I know I’ve said elsewhere that the idea for my book arrived after watching the movie, Phantom of the Opera.  And also how truly terrible my first efforts were, but practice makes, if not perfect, at least better!  There were many little improvements along the way, starting with the title.  I imagine I am not alone as a writer, in the elusive search for the perfect title.  So here is how I arrived at mine.

I had read ‘Twilight’ when it came out, and I knew that title was not Stephenie Meyers’ first choice for her book – I think her first choice was ‘Forks’, if I remember correctly.  Somehow that makes me think of the silverware drawer.  An editor came up with the name, ‘Twilight’, simply by picking out an evocative word from the text of the book.  I really could not imagine a more perfect name for a book, even though the title has little to do with the story; but it sets the mood, the tone, of the book.  Genius!  I also liked the idea of a single, powerful word for a title.

My first title, in fact, was ‘Candlelight’, because there are so many candles and candelabra in Erik’s cavern.  My heroine, Sylvie, is always carrying a candle about, and it does create that gothic aura I was looking for.  But then I realized it would never work, thanks to that very same ‘Twilight’.  Readers would think I was trying to copy that title.  Drat!  Time to ditch ‘Candlelight’.  And back to the laptop for me.

I am now going to confess something very embarrassing, so do be kind to me, Dear Reader!  Please do not laugh.  My second title (and I really loved it) was ‘Obscurité et Lumiere’.  Roughly translated, that means Darkness and Light in French.  I thought it was a cool title, at least for a while.  Well.  Around the time I completed my second or third rewrite of the manuscript, I finally came to the sad conclusion that it was a terrible title.  No one would know what it meant, it looked hard to pronounce, and it would convey absolutely nothing to the potential reader.  Back to the laptop, again.

I was still really drawn to the idea of a powerful, one word title, so I began to search through my own manuscript to see if I might pluck out a powerful, evocative title from it.  ‘Disfigured’ came to mind, because it is used by Madame Giry to describe her mysterious friend, the Opera Ghost.  The word stirs Sylvie’s compassion and sympathy, and later, her insatiable curiosity.  And Erik’s disfigurement is more than skin-deep.  So I settled on that.  It does have rather a spooky, gothic quality to it, I think.

Now I am working on Book II in the series, and here I am once again, struggling to find a title.  I can’t just call it ‘Disfigured Again’, after all.  Stay tuned!