Title Anyone?

What's in a title other than letters?

What’s in a title other than letters?

Some people say creating a book title is hard work. I say it depends on the writer’s method.

Many writers slave over a book outline, describing every character, every chapter, and often every scene. Thus a title for them is likely tedious.

For me, the book finds its title when its concept is well grounded. Of course, a title should use certain elements, like tone, expectation and interest. But breaking the brain over what works best isn’t my idea of fun. Here’s an example: Salem Street.

But what does Salem Street say? Does it suggest a thriller, science-fiction or a romance? Maybe Salem Street is a romance, because it sounds homey and inviting.

Perhaps the writer intends a story with lots of conflict between rivaling housewives, creating the title Salem Street Witches. Here intrigue suggests witch trials, brutal judgment and burnings at the stake.

Next I offer something quirky like A Knuckle for Your Thoughts. Here we have a play on words, mimicking “A nickel for your thoughts”. In this title, the word knuckle describes the story. Maybe it refers to a man who finds boxing more appealing than running his father’s business.

What’s essential is that a title must describe the book. To me, this is important, because a misleading title is counterproductive. That’s why I create a title first, imagine the plot, outline if necessary and begin to write. Then I use it to stay focused.

Would Sweet Little Kittens describe a story about two orphaned brothers named Black who bounty hunt? Probably not. Is Clan of Black more appropriate? Probably. Point is, whether you write first and create a title, or create a title and then write, the title must serve as the backbone of the story.

With this said, a new title has suddenly popped into my head: Say No More.

2 thoughts on “Title Anyone?

  1. Christi Mone' Marie (@cmonemarie)

    Haha, this was great! It got me smiling, and more importantly, thinking. I’ve often wondered if the title for my upcoming novel is a good one (doesn’t really describe ANYTHING in ANY book). But I love it. I think it works. But maybe I’m just letting my emotions get in the way? I don’t know.

    I do agree with what you’ve said though. For me, titles just seem to come. They strike me like a bolt of lightning out of the blue during deep musings (or sometimes while I’m sleeping) and give me the inspiration to keep moving forward.

    What’s in a name? Intrigue, mystique, the premise of a good time.

    What’s not in a name? Redundancy, mediocrity, laziness, boredom.

    Often times I wonder how fine the line is to crossover from the premise of all things wonderful to mediocrity.

    Reply
    1. garyssloan Post author

      Hi, Christi, and thank you for your comment.

      When an author picks a title, especially if the title sails the entire journey along with the book, experiencing all the trials and triumphs along with the way, it likely means the title works.

      If a title pleases me and isn’t misleading, chances are I’ll stick with it. M. de V.A.LL.E. intrigues and at the same time suggests a story set in an earlier era, which yours surely delivers. I also like it because it poses a clever read. A unique title conveys where a mundane title cannot.

      Best of luck with your debut. I’m sure it’s the first of many.

      Writing is fun and who knows, maybe there’s money to be made too!

      Gary

      Reply

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