When I began to think about the title for the third book of my medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love, I had a rather difficult time coming up with one that continued in line with the first two novellas, BETROTHAL and BETRAYAL. Those titles came immediately to mind because the words exactly explained the plots of the books. The final installment, however, was more complex, with more complications. So trying to find a word that began with “Be” became rather daunting.
I grabbed a dictionary and went down the columns of “be” words. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, because the longer I looked, the more I believed I would never come up with a title that would continue the alliteration of the first two and reflect the meaning of the book itself. When I arrived at “beleaguered” it took me a second to think about it. It was longer than the other two, it didn’t roll off the tongue as easily as they did, and it didn’t really scream romance novel. But it did begin with “be” and the definition fit the book perfectly.
Beleaguered, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, means “besieged, lay siege to, under attack,” and “hard pressed, beset with difficulties, in a tight spot.” It is the perfect way to describe Geoffrey, Thomas, and Alyse throughout the book. During this final part of the story, the three must combat not only the deadly Bubonic Plague that threatens to wipe out the entire entourage, including the princess, but they must deal with the love triangle that emerges when Alyse discovers that even though she is married to Thomas, she is still in love with Geoffrey. “Hard pressed, beset with difficulties, in a tight spot.” Exactly.
The problem that beleaguered me now was the title didn’t sound like a romance novel. And it was hard to spell as well. I asked some of my author friends and they came up with several excellent suggestions: Belonging, Beseiged, Befallen, Beloved. Belonging didn’t really have anything to do with the book’s plot. Beseiged was comparable to Beleaguered, but it didn’t sound like a romance any more than Beleaguered did.
I was very enamored of Befallen; it had a desperate feel to it that fit the book. However, a friend pointed out that “befallen” seemed to refer to things rather than people. And you can envision people being beleaguered but not befallen.
The #1 choice among my friends was Beloved, which did fit the book excellently. However, when Googled, the first thing to pop up is Beloved by Toni Morrison. A wonderful novel, but hardly a romance. And that wasn’t the only one. Beloved is apparently a very popular title for all types of books. So, reluctantly, I put that one in the rejection pile also and in the end, went with my gut and kept BELEAGUERED.
So BELEAGUERED describes both my characters and its author, although I think I had an easier time than my main characters. I am overall very pleased with my title choice. Nothing in the writing profession is ever easy and my title just makes that self-evident.