Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Song titles in writing

Shortly after my newest poetry book came out, I Googled the title to see if it was on any other sites. It was still too early for any reviews of this book to be up, but I just wanted to see where else it was uploaded or discussed. Aside from my own mentions of the book on my sites, it was not anywhere else, but like I said, it was still too early to expect that. All the same, my search led me to a surprising discovery.

The first part of the title, “Love is Like a Rainbow,” is what I Googled. And I come to find out that there is a song with that same title! Very cool. I read the lyrics and liked how the song uses imagery to evoke the idea of a rainbow.

I didn’t know there was a song called “Love is Like a Rainbow.” The title is from a poem included in the collection, one which I wrote several years ago. I decided to use it as the title poem because it really spoke so strongly of how multi-layered and forgiving love can be. Rainbows symbolize a promise, just as love does.

What’s interesting is that I found out that there is a song with this title only after I had this book published. Usually, it’s the other way around. I usually get ideas for titles from songs, or I’ll go through songs to see if anything grabs me. My current writing book, which I am getting ready to submit, has the title WIP It. I decided on this after several brainstorming sessions. Those who know might recognize it as the same kind of title of a song called “Whip It.” I decided on this one because “WIP” stands for “work-in-progress” and because this is a book about revising your WIP’s, I felt it was the perfect fit.

With songs, it could be just one line that will inspire a writer to use it as their title, or it could be the title itself. Also, a writer may play with song titles, changing words or making their title similar to a song title. (This is common for humorous writing. For example, many spoof songs have been written that mimic actual songs, such as “We Didn’t Start Out Tired” based on Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” or Weird Al Yankovic’s “Like a Surgeon” spoofing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”)

It’s a great way to come up with ideas for stories or other things to write. It often happens with the writer seeking out that inspiration from songs or music, but the opposite can happen, as well. In my case, that’s exactly what happened with my poetry book. I can only wonder if I’ll come across songs that have the same title, or a line in the lyrics, that is the same as one of my future book or short story titles.

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