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Narrative format when title gives away the ending

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Hi everyone,

I’m wondering what to do when you have a title that you realllllly want to keep, but it gives away the ending.  I have one I’m so excited about that I practically tap danced when it popped in my head.  I imagine it would really get the book picked up off the shelf.  BUT...  I had been thinking that the story would start off telling you the surprising place that my title character inhabits, and as I have been jotting down ideas I feel like it would be better for my character arriving at the place and meeting my secondary character to be the climax in a parallel story.  Hope that makes sense so far...  So...  ways to do this?  The first thought I had was that I could use a circular and parallel structure, where my characters are introduced in the setting they wind up in, and then they tell the reader how they got there.  Thoughts on alternative structures?  Example books to look at- especially PBs?  Any thoughts would be appreciated.  I hope I’ve given enough info to make sense!
#1 - November 01, 2018, 07:34 PM

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Could it be arranged so it looks like the title applies to something that happens in the beginning of the book, but turns out to apply to the end instead?  Something misleadingly similar.  Do you mind sharing the title you're thinking about? 
#2 - November 01, 2018, 07:45 PM
Karen B. Jones

Can you misdirect the reader? Technically THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK gives away the ending. Grover just doesn't realize it's him.
#3 - November 01, 2018, 07:54 PM

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Karen, thank you again for taking the time to read another post.  Guess we’re both trolling the boards :). No, it’s super clear what is meant.  Perhaps what they would call “high concept”.  I don’t want to share the title, but I can specify format better than I did, I think.  (NAME) the (SURPRISING PLACE) (CHARACTER TYPE).  Really bad made up example of this form would be Toothy the Land Shark.  LOL
#4 - November 01, 2018, 07:59 PM

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So, like, "Molly the Vampire" about a girl named Molly who doesn't start out the book as a vampire would give away that she ends up being a vampire at the end.  Something like that? 
#5 - November 01, 2018, 08:14 PM
Karen B. Jones

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Exactly!
#6 - November 01, 2018, 08:15 PM

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It might not matter if the ending is given away by the title.  Not every ending has to be a surprise.  Sometimes it's about the journey to get there. 
#7 - November 01, 2018, 08:17 PM
Karen B. Jones

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That’s exactly it- I’ve decided I think the story is about the journey of how the character got to be who they are in the title.  Just not sure about how to start out...  Maybe it doesn’t matter at all that the ending is given away and I’m over-thinking it? 
#8 - November 01, 2018, 08:23 PM

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These things are all worth thinking about. Titles are so much fun! You should pick a title that pops immediately for an editor. (I've had that.) AND also know that they can and will change your well-considered title. (Also me.) Good luck!
#9 - November 02, 2018, 04:32 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, EMERGENCY KITTENS!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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Yes, of course, Jody.  If I ever land on an editor’s desk I would probably be happy to change my name to mud if requested LOL. 
#10 - November 02, 2018, 05:01 AM

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Hopefully they won't ask you to change YOUR name, Sarah! 
#11 - November 02, 2018, 05:05 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, EMERGENCY KITTENS!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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Karen, I had a story like this where the surprise was in the title--but that was a working title. Once I finished the story, I retitled it the Easter Surprise. What was important was the journey my MC took but keeping the surprise made it more fun for the reader.
Best wishes on your story! I can feel your excitement.
#12 - November 02, 2018, 05:33 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Sarah, maybe just write it first and then you’ll have a better idea of whether or not your title works? As others have said, it may not matter at all that the title gives away the ending. Being jazzed about a new book idea is the *best* feeling...run with it! :)
#13 - November 02, 2018, 06:13 AM
DREAM JOBS IN SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY (Rosen 2018)
THE GROSS SCIENCE OF BAD BREATH AND CAVITIES (Rosen 2019)

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Thanks, Jayca.  Yes- definitely putting the cart ahead of the horse a bit. Just excited :)
#14 - November 02, 2018, 06:54 AM

Sarah, I agree with Karen. I think everyone here k ows I am not published, but I do have a bit of experience in writing & narrating. Often children prefer that a title is referred to in the plot. It gives then something to refer back to. I almost always do it.
BTW: I've almost always come up with the title in order to keep myself with the plot.
Just write & enjoy the journey with your plot & characters. Let it flow & perhaps give it a quirky towards the end of the story.
Best of luck & keep us updated.
#15 - November 04, 2018, 07:38 AM

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