The Girl In The Title

I’m not much of a bandwagon jumper. Unless you’re talking eyebrows and I’ve definitely jumped on the eyebrow bandwagon. Did you know eyebrows are the must-have new fashion accessory? Physical features we have always had! Those are the new black!

This is not a beauty blog, I know.



Yes. I talk with my hands even when someone holds a pointy wand near my eye. I’m a thrill-seeker. (And a comedian.)

This morning I was thinking about book titles and the Girl In The Title trend. I thought perhaps this was a bandwagon worth jumping on. There’s something catchy (and bestselling) about these books. There’s something universal and intriguing and beguiling.

I could surely dream up a Girl Title for my next book, due April 1 to my editor. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

So I made a list for new book and the way I could use Girl in the title. Currently, the working title for novel is Left To Chance (which I love and has multiple meanings, but let’s set good sense aside for a moment).

  1. The Chance Girl
  2. The Cemetery Girl
  3. Last Chance Girl
  4. New Chance Girl
  5. The Girls of Chance

Now I bet you’re wondering if this is a novel about gambling, grave-diggers, or prostitutes.

I’ll never tell. (Well, I will, just not quite yet.)

As I was typing out the titles in my Titles note on my phone (yes, this is a running list) hat’s all I could come up with for GIRL. In my list-making, let’s-nail-this-thing frenzy,  I cringed.

I strongly dislike the word GIRL.

Nothing against the titles where it fits and works beautifully, of course. Maybe if it made sense in some way, I could put my feelings aside. Publishers have the final say on titles anyway, so I could be eating my words at some point in my career. Nom Nom Nom. They will be delicious.

But, in general, in real life, when the word GIRL is referring to an adult woman, I grimace. I cringe. I contemplate some finger wagging. And I’ve felt this way for longer than Girl In The Title has been a trend.  I know plenty of people who fling that word around. I know the term is often meant affectionately, casually, offhandedly, and with no malice. I know the term “mean girl” often refers to a bully no matter the age. But in general, the word just plain bugs me.

“Oh, she’s a nice girl.”

“She’s a pretty girl.”

“She’s a smart girl.”

“She’s a brave girl.”

“She’s a funny girl.”

What they really mean is WOMAN. Young woman perhaps, but not a girl. GIRLS are twelve.  I wouldn’t even refer to my twenty-year-old daughter as a girl.

The main character in my next novel, Teddi Lerner, is FORTY-TWO. Teddi Lerner is not a girl.

Scratch Girl Title Goal.

Am I jealous? Am I a bitch? Am I just looking for something to complain about on a Monday morning?

No, sometimes, not at the moment. 


I gauged my green meter and this isn’t Envy writing this blog post today. I’m not saying my books would have topped the charts with Girl titles or that books are popular because of Girl titles. There’s an article floating around on the internet somewhere as to why Girl titles work. I don’t doubt it.

It’s okay that the title trend is beyond the reach of my new novel and inconsistent with my own sensibilities.  Trend chasers take heed! There are other title trends I do like. I like the long, wordy title trend. I like the one-word title trend. I also like the trend my own novels have set (intentionally). The Glass Wives. The Good Neighbor. The ________   ___________ for novel three?


Even if Left To Chance is a perfectly appropriate and good title that fits the book and has hidden meaning, I’m sure I’ll chase each of these title trends (and those yet to be recognized) around the block a few times before deciding.

Because I’m a crazy woman.

Have a title for my new novel? Have a Girl Title you love? Do you trend chase at all? How are YOUR eyebrows today? 









32 thoughts on “The Girl In The Title

  1. I have a theory as to why “girl” is so popular today. I think it’s because deep down we all feel like girls no matter what our age. Like we’re just waiting for the true adult, the real mom, the valid authority figure to show up and start calling the shots. Because adulthood is so much harder and more complicated than we counted on and we wish we could get away with being a girl for a bit longer. And we are still waiting to feel qualified. To be deemed fit to call ourselves a real adult. So when we see “girl” in the title it resonates with us on a deeper level. Like “maybe it isn’t just me.”

    Or maybe it is just me. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Marybeth. I think there’s something to it. It’s appealing to the masses. I just had this revelation today that it didn’t fit my book. And how I feel when I hear someone say the word. I totally embrace the word “girlfriend” at any age when it means women friends. It has a deeper meaning.


    • Marybeth’s thought is my first thought as well–I’m 41 plus half a year or so, and I still think of myself as “girl.” I couldn’t tell you why, and it doesn’t preclude me speaking of myself as a woman. But when 60-year-old women say “I’m getting together with my girlfriends” and everyone in the universe refers to a “girls’ night out” and “weekend with the girls,” it’s clear that the world “girl” has a wider age range attached to it than the word “boy” does.


  2. Love this post! So smart, sharp and insightful! And to add to the “girl” thing–have you noticed “wife” and “daughter” crop up in a lot of titles too? These are words that define women in terms of a man. How many books feature husband or son in the title? Some, I grant you. But not nearly as many. The title you picked sounds perfect–accessible, yet intriguing. Hang on to it and forget the girls!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed this post. I kind of like “girl,” to tell the truth, although not “gal,” and I admit to being really irritated at the golf course one day when an older woman hollared at me to “move it, girlie.” I call my daughter and daughters-in-law (in their 40s) all my girls and just remembered I used the word in a book title (The Girls of Tonsil Lake), so…yeah, after all that meandering, I like the word. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post! Actually, long before this was a thing, I was going to title a memoir of mine (still to be revised but written long ago) with a “girl” — and still may do, when I get round to preparing it for publication.
    I’m going to be revising a novel soon and for that I DO hope to use the word “girl”, if my publisher accepts it: Lost Girl in Red. The girl in question really is twelve, and the red refers to the fact that she is sold into prostitution in Mumbai. It seems fitting — but I hate being in trend!
    Titles I have been using are: The (adjective noun) of “woman’s name) which I like very much. Though the next book will be something different.
    But I love title-brainstorming!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with Marybeth – I don’t mind being called girl because most of the time I definitely don’t feel like an adult woman, despite 2 out of 3 children being taller than me. That could be because of my inner immaturity as well! But as for the Girl in the Title…there has to be better ways to describe your characters than just saying she’s a girl. I may consider myself a girl, but I’m a lot of other things as well.
    ps. My eyebrows are not trendy and are in desperate need of help!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy Sue, I love playing with titles. The Last Chance? Just a thought. About eyebrows. I live in fear of plucking the wrong hair. In case you didn’t know, after a certain age (I am of a certain age) the eyebrow hairs do not grow back. Something else to think about…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eyebrows need plucking. But hey, it’s like that every day. As someone who writes about the mature woman, I would have a problem with “Girl” in the title as well. I think that there are more women in the world than girls. Let’s celebrate that and write about their experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As for eyebrows: I really don’t understand this thing. Maybe I’m just not “girly” enough! But I have never noticed anyone’s eyebrows, never plucked or done anything to my own, and honestly just don’t care! (For that matter I don’t do anything to my face so maybe that’s the “problem”!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amy…You made me laugh today…as have some of the other replies. I have to admit ‘girl’ in a title or any other way has never really bothered me. What did bother me was the first time a teenage worker at a fast food restaurant called me ‘ma’am’! I was thirty-two at the time and it floored me. But maybe to him, I looked ancient. LOL
    As for eyebrows, I started ‘helping’ mine with a little artistic pencil work about a year ago when I thought they looked a little thinner and it did make a difference…sorta like a frame for my face. I have always had to keep an eye on my eyebrows (sounds like ocular contortion, right?) or else they will go rogue and look like Andy Rooney eyebrows.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. First of all, I luuurrve the title, “Left to Chance”. I mean, big hearts for this!

    There was a segment discussion on NPR last week about this very thing

    Well worth a listen if you haven’t already.

    I knew the working title of my third novel wasn’t going to fly–it’s a Maori word and not an intuitive pronunciation when looking at it. Just a placeholder for me as I wrote. Sure enough, last week my agent asked that we brainstorm some alternates as I work on revisions and she prepares to send the novel on sub later this year. The title she gravitated to, which shall be known as Working Title #2, does contain the word “girl”. One of my central characters—the girl in the title—is a seven-year-old. So, I’m perfectly okay with the relevance and suitability of the word in this context. But I’m curious to see how this plays out, being well aware of the marketing draw of books with Girl in the title.

    I am, however, a 47-year-old woman who has no patience for the patronizing use of “girl.” I’ve been a woman for a very long time and have damn sure earned the respect inherent in the word.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Eyebrows? As a blonde I ask, what are those? Have been using Clinique instant lift for brows or in French!! crayon sourcils lift instantane for many many years. And the title thing? Remember Wife? The Paris Wife, The Aviator’s Wife, the Pilot’s Wife. You broke the mold with WIVES. And we struggle on….Beth

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my God. I am holding my sides, after reading your post, Amy, and seeing the comments here about girls and eyebrows! It really is amazing how these trends roll on and on–girls, wives, daughters in titles lately, especially–we can understand why, I guess, if we start substituting “woman” in place of “girl” or “wife” in those titles. What happens? Suddenly the character seems less vulnerable, right? Because everyone is terrified of full-grown women, AS WELL THEY SHOULD BE.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love these comments and this post! As to eyebrows, I never gave one little thought to my eyebrows (not when there were so many OTHER things to worry about on my face!) until five years ago, when suddenly I noticed they were UNRULY, and needed tending. Since then, they’ve become something of an obsession. My daughters actually go to places where sadists wield hot wax and threading devices, but I have not gone that route yet. Still with the tweezers.
    And as to book titles…I had a book come out in 2014 called The Opposite of Maybe. Also out there, roaming about in the world, gathering readers, are: The Opposite of Me, The Opposite of You, The Opposite of Everyone, The Opposite of Spoiled, The Opposite of Love, The Opposite of Loneliness. What are we to do??

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I don’t really look for a deeper meaning in the use of “girl” in the title. I think it’s a marketing thing. That Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book really took off and all of a sudden everyone’s putting girl in the title. My husband read the first two of those books and then was waiting for the third, which was written by another author after the real author died, and I had to keep checking to see if I was getting the correct “girl” because all of a sudden there were all these “The Girl in…” books.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yep, I’m up to here with girls in the title – unless they really are 12 or under. Having said that, I was thinking of following some ‘fail-safe book titling advice’ and calling my WIP ‘The Girl with the Lover, the Coke and the Secret’ or, as a reader suggested ‘The book of Revenge the Girl on the Train read when she was Gone’

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I totally agree with you, Amy, that in some situations “girl” is sexist and demeaning. One example that drives me crazy is from a Rihanna song. (I’m not much of a fan, but I’ve heard it on the radio a lot.) The lyric goes, “I want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world…cause I’m the only one who understands how to make you feel like a man.” The powerful differential (girl–man) drives me crazy! I think women are taught that to be young, small, and sweet (i.e. a girl) is the best thing to be, so we don’t fully embrace “woman” as much. But I think other points made in your blog and comments left here are spot on too. Girl titles certainly make for catchy titles, and no matter how old I get, I probably will always think of myself, my sister, and my friends as “girls.”

    Liked by 2 people

  17. From titles to covers — anyone else noticed that all “women’s crime” fiction has the same woman walking away, so that all you see is her back? She usually wears a red coat… They do seem to sell well.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. One summer I vowed to read all the novels with the word ‘wife’ in the title, just to see WTF, and I became ill after 3. Wife is even worse than Girl. Megan Abbott’s take on NPR was spot on, I thought, though. We are all a girl at heart, even if we are a feminist who hates the trend. Also — eyebrows. My friend told me last year I had to do this, I had to see someone, that it was LIFE CHANGING. So I go in, worried that they will over-pluck, that they won’t get me and my tomboy-ness, and they were like — you need to GROW, LET ‘EM GO WILD, STOP DEAD-HEADING AND WEEDING!! haha, now another friend just told me EVERYONE has eyelash extensions and i’m like ENOUGH!! TAKE YOUR SPANX AND LEAVE ME ALONE!!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I like LEFT TO CHANCE! But if you REALLY want to be trendy, work a bird name into the title too (Nightingale? Goldfinch? Mockingjay?) No one has used the “girl” moniker about me in over a decade, so I don’t think about it much. However, I do recommend Anastasia brow products. Easy to use and very natural looking. Good luck with the title, and the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Saturday Summation – 12 March 2016 | It'll All Work Out

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