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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, September 14, 2009


By Dr. Debra Holland

When Tom Petty’s song, Free Falling, plays on the radio, I like to sing along. “And, I’m Freeeeee. Free Fallin’. I don’t think much of the rest of the lyrics, but I sure do like the chorus. Some editors must too. A quick search showed three romances titled Free Falling: Stoble Piel, 1999, Mary Eason, 2008, and Sandy James, 2009. I’m sure there’s more.

Editors frequently assign song titles to books. For example, Jenny Crusie has two: Crazy For You and Tell Me Lies.

Song titles make great books titles because there’s instant recognition. The title may make a book more memorable or cause someone to pick up the book who might not normally.

Much of the time the working titles authors use are not kept by the editor. Instead, a new title is chosen. And since titles can’t be copywrited, the title may be used over and over. I have no idea if any of the above three authors used Free Falling as a working title. Yet, maybe they did have the title first and drew inspiration from it.

Have you ever listened to the radio and heard a song and thought, “That would make a great book title?” Maybe the song is one you’ve never heard before. Maybe it’s an oldie, but something about the lyrics sparks a story idea.

I mostly listen to the radio when I’m in the car. I don’t know about you, but I tend to think about my writing when I drive. I work out scenes and snippets of dialogue come to me, especially when the freeway is clear, and I can easily drive without much conscious thought. The other times are when I’m stuck in traffic (common in Los Angeles) and need to engage my mind to contain my frustration and pass the time. In fact, one of my books originated as a story idea while I was driving to my office.

I keep a notebook right next to the driver’s seat. If it’s possible to drive semi-safely and jot down the ideas, I do so. Although sometimes the writing isn’t too legible.

Sometimes I play with song titles, trying to create a story out of them. Then when I arrive at my destination, I write it down. Or if I don’t have time to write, I’ll probably forget about it. I’ve never actually developed a book from a song title, but I do have a list of potentials in my notebook. If I ever need some inspiration, I plan to play with them.

What about you? Have you ever written a story based on a song title?

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At 8:59 AM, Blogger Sandy James said...

If you consider how much emotional appeal accompanies music, it isn't surprising that certain songs inspire writers. I might not always use a song title as my book's title, but I often have a "theme" song for each of my books.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Crystal-Rain Love said...

I actually have some books planned that have song titles as the title. The song titles actually sparked the ideas for these books. I'd love to have a whole series of books that are all given song titles. It'd just be neat to have them all tie in that way.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Tori Lennox said...

I'm not sure if I've ever used a song title for inspiration but I have used song lyrics for inspiration. :)

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I love the idea of using a song title as a jumping off point for a story. I'll have to try it sometime!

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

I've never used a song title as a story's inspiration, but I'd love to use a song title as a book title. Some authors' song-book titles play in a loop in my mind like a commercial.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Not a title, but I definitely get 'click moments' from lyrics (Blake Windsor in What's in a Name? gelled for me with a lyric line from "Leader of the Band" - or just a melody (Randy in Finding Sarah became a pianist after I was listening to Beethoven), and Frankie & Ryan danced to an Eagles song in When Danger Calls).


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