Title This! (Cuz I have no idea…)


Man, oh, man, I get stuck with titles. Okay, okay, so the “final” title on a published book rarely is the same one that first marks its cover. But still. Agents blog about having a catchy title even when you query a manuscript. Heck, if a wonky title is enough to land your query in the slush pile, then it’s important enough to put some effort into developing a good one.

Can I say coming up with a spot on title for my manuscript is about as easy as spelling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious without looking it up first? (I copied and pasted it, by the way)

I must admit, it’s largely the title of a book that gets me to pull it off the shelf (it is the part you see when they’re all lined up, right? Yes, sometimes I’m that simple). Quirky titles, scary titles, mysterious titles, funny titles. I expect the tone of the title to indicate the tone of the book.

In some instances, the main theme or the keystone element of the plot can be encapsulated in the title. Or, it can be a random phrase found somewhere in the last third of the novel, taken quite out of context. A fine example of this is Aldous Huxley’s Time Must Have A Stop. Is it an over-riding theme, or a random phrase? Honestly, I’d have to vote for the latter. Perhaps I should read the book again to be certain. Either way, I found the title intriguing enough to select that novel over the thousands of others waiting for me.

Oddly enough, I can do a pretty fair job at coming up with romance titles. But clever, subtle, and succinct? Beh. ‘Kay, so I do have a listing of novels I’ve penned (with their titles under the About My Writing tab). I would be curious to hear what your impressions are. Based on the title, what do you expect to read?

More importantly, another thing that interests me is what process you use to come up with a title. Is it a pull-a-phrase-out-of-a-hat type deal, or a round table discussion with crit partners, friends, or family members? Maybe you open the book to a random page, close your eyes, and point, and whatever phrase your finger lands on is the title.

Dear friends, do share!

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4 comments on “Title This! (Cuz I have no idea…)

  1. Katie says:

    I must admit that I think titles are of the utmost importance – especially when querying. You really need to think them through. They have to command attention and make the reader want to know what they mean.

    I sometimes come up with my titles first. I think it’s the marketing side of me. I come up with the title and then try to craft a story worthy of it.

  2. Lynn Rush says:

    I totally stink at titles. Yep. Really do. I have a few crit friends who help me bigtime. I usually come up with a mega brainstorm of them, then ask them to comment and suggest.

    I like it to have a part of the book, though. Like one of mine– Violet Midnight. MC’s eyes are violet…and it’s the stroke of midnight that comes into play within the book. . . so, if I can get something like that in the title, I try. Doesn’t always work, though. 🙂

  3. Coming up with titles for either my novels or blog post is definitely not one of my favorite parts about writing. Usually the hit me while I’m writing. With the book I’m currently querying, it was a tentative title that became a major part of the final paragraph of the book.

    On the bright side, they’re not the deal breaker. So many books on the shelves were queried under a different title.

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