Cold Semolina Cake, anyone? What’s in a Name?

I make a cake from a Delia Smith recipe called Greek Orange and Almond Cake. It’s delicious and it has semolina as a main ingredient. I never call it ‘Cold Semolina Cake‘. Do you see why?



What’s in a Name is a dish of mead or a poisoned chalice.

Paragraphs I was writing yesterday were about Drama and Articles for a short guide Edinburgh Writers’ Club will be offering our new members. So, it kept me focussed on stage right/left while Drama sat at the top and on Key sentences/link paragraphs while it was Articles. That is what the working title does for me. It pulls me up when my over-active imagination heads off at a tangent.

MARIAH’S MARRIAGE was great in that respect and fortunately MuseItUp were happy to keep it. Then I was working on a second and again choosing BELLA’S BETROTHAL prevented  a slide into other characters’ back stories. Yes they’re interesting, but they aren’t what tempted the reader into the book. That was the promise to reveal all about Mariah’s marriage and Bella’s betrothal.

The post below in August’s round robin was about secondary characters taking over. A scenario that most writers are familiar with. It usually needs a bit of plotting discipline, or a firm smack from the copy editor, to bring the novel back on track. Sometimes neither of these are available and the result can be so disappointing. I hate being psyched up to read something and then get into it to discover the book is not properly described by its title.

Much agonising goes into selecting titles and I understand how sometimes the wrong choices can be made. It must be vexing to be told a house used your working title for another publication too recently to use it again. Possibly that’s when the mind, like a computer, crashes and what emerges is inappropriate.

Title selection depends on content, but also on other work by the writer, by their publishers, by other writers in their genre or field. It’s almost always wise to say on the tin what’s in the tin.

What struggles have you had finding titles? Let’s hear about the ones you’re really happy with and the ones you regret. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse Bella’s Betrothal UK



2 thoughts on “Cold Semolina Cake, anyone? What’s in a Name?

  1. I’m terrible at titles. I sometimes try to start with a title and write to it. (Good for writer’s block.) This is a good exercise; but I inevitably end up with a piece that no longer relates to the fantastic title, so it’s back to square one.


    • Hi Jennifer, I do think finding a title, when once you’ve strayed, is hard. On balance though, it must be better to have written a great piece of work than to have thought of a great title? Anne


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