How do you title a book?

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How do you title a book?

Postby JohnDurvin » 26 Jan 2011, 20:42

How do you sum up the energy you ram into a book using a short phrase or even a single word, especially if you want to avoid naming it after the protagonist or "the something of something" (e.g. Wrath of the Enigma, Enigma of Wrath, etc.)? I'm awful at it.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Moni12 » 26 Jan 2011, 21:16

I've heard that the title the author originally uses is rarely kept by the time the book is published. On PubRants there was a discussion on a book called The Shifter (I don't remember who wrote it). It was the original title that caught my eye (The Pain Merchants). Kristin Nelson went on to say why the title of the book was changed.

Anyways, to answer your question...I like to think about what the story revolves around. What is the main idea? For my newly finished ms I called it NEVER REMEMBER because it revolves around a young woman searching for her memories, but when she finally remembers she regrets it. I could share other titles, but I'm trying to keep the main ideas for my current wips quiet for now.

I guess when you're at the point of coming up with a title you have to summarize, and then come up with a summary for that, etc. until you break it down to that short phrase or one word that becomes your title.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby kriheli » 26 Jan 2011, 21:30

i like to have my titles have multiple meanings, open to many interpretations.
i also like the title to be short enough that i can promote it in small posts on social media outlets. twitter constrains us to 140 characters leaving very little wiggle room to say much more than some titles. being mindful of this when choosing titles is key.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby shinesteak » 26 Jan 2011, 21:58

I share your pain. One thing I agonize over for a long time after finishing something is whether or not I have the right title.

I try to name after theme. (I write fantasy, so...yeah...) For instance: I have a novel, finished, (never going to be published!!!) that's called The Key. I named it that because a large portion of the work is about my characters finding out that one of them is literally the key. (They're trying to close the portal to a hell-dimension.)

Sheesh. That sounds so cliche when I sum it up like that. It's really not a cliche! I promise!

Anyway, people generally find the titles I end up with catching, so perhaps it's something to think about. :)
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 27 Jan 2011, 06:48

I'm absolutely wretched when it comes to titling things. From blog posts to books, I just can't do it. I think my own personal version of hell would be being told I had to create a subtitle for every chapter of my book. Thinking about it gives me an anxiety attack.

It took more than a year to title my current manuscript and I'm on draft three which was the draft that finally got titled. My manuscript is titled THE WILDS but the term was not used in the story until I rewrote a scene in the third draft that had some of the worst dialogue I've ever written in my life. During the rewrite, one of the characters refers to going outside the fences of their ward as an impossible idea, that no one would deliberatly go out into the wild places. The dialogue was so much better, but it would take two more read throughs before I snagged on that line and realized I had the title of my book and also the name for the place outside the fences. It was easy to integrate the word into the story, especially when I realized I'd referred to the area outside the fences as a wild place several times throughout the book, completely on accident.

So coming up with my title was an accident, but I have read advice for selecting good titles. Granted, they didn't really work for me, but they might work for you. I was told to make a list of every word you can think of that could be associated with your book. Just one word at a time, make a huge list. Then go to a book site or Amazon and locate books that are like your book and make a list of some of those titles.

Once you have both lists, study what other books similar to yours has done, then begin piecing together titles from the list of associated words you came up with. No matter how rediculous, make a list but take care not to pick one already in use or one that sounds too much like one of the titles you found. Mix and match until you find something that feels right. I used excel to do this, but I know a girl who wrote all her words on slips of paper and sat on the floor mixing and matching word combos until she found her title.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Guardian » 27 Jan 2011, 07:55

I'm usually giving titles which are telling something about the atmosphere of the world, fits only to that world, but also has multiple meanings throughout the story. I'm also trying to avoid "the"s, "of"s and "and"s in the title (There was only one exception, but that's a fictive story's title inside the story.). I usually like to give a brief summary for the readers about the world with the title, so when they're reaching the end of the story, they can say; "Yes, this was XY and I already know why the author gave this title. It describes everything."

My bad habit: Sometimes I'm giving secondary titles, but sometimes it's necessary.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby CharleeVale » 27 Jan 2011, 08:14

Alot of names in my book are tweaked from latin, so I thought the title should be as well.

My story revolves around the elements and the racial conflict that stems from that, so I entitled it ELEMENTUM. However, this is it's second title.

I originally was calling it the prophecy, because in a early draft a prophecy was completely central to the story. Now, the prophecy has been completely written out.

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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby cheekychook » 27 Jan 2011, 09:32

Call it something that in some way symbolizes the story/book FOR YOU and keep in mind it will very likely change when you get it published. The title the author comes up with during the writing/querying stage is really just the authors way of identifying and expressing something about the book. In most cases authors don't have the opportunity to take that title along when the book goes to press. If you're really struggling, have your beta readers come up with some titles for you to choose from. Readers tend to pick titles that are either overriding themes, or sometimes phrases that occur often in the book. Anything that gives a sense of the book is good enough for a working title---just make it something you're happy with, because when you start querying and pitching you'll be saying it A LOT! Good luck!
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby BetweenTwoWorlds » 27 Jan 2011, 10:38

Oh, I wish I knew the answer.

The title for my current WIP seemed to fit so perfect. (The WIP is still in edit/review mode.) I loved the title. When I shared the work with my writing groups, they all said "Sounds like a Regency romance novel set in the Southwest."

Which it is not.

At all.

So now I have a "temporary" title in place so I can refer to it & not wince. I'm fully expecting that the geniuses at the publishing house that buys my book and gives me moolah will think of an even better title than "Venice the Menace."
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Claudie » 27 Jan 2011, 13:24

I'm horrible with titles. In fact, I'm horrible with anything naming which, when you write fantasy, is a real pain. One of my WIP is simply titled about the main kingdom. The other is called WHITE ECHOES, which was a wonderful title for the plot in the first draft because it reflected multiple layers of the story.

Then I changed the plot. I still refer to it as WHITE ECHOES, but at some point after the coming draft, I'll retitle it. Every time I think about doing it, though, I get shivers.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Watcher55 » 27 Jan 2011, 14:55

I'm pretty bad at naming things to. If I had my way, my nephew's name would be Speed Limit.

My WIP has had five names - TED, THE BOOK OF TED, NINE DAYS IN JULY, and WIP. I think I've settled on one, or rather the story sorta titled itself. It turns out the title, THE NINTH ADDICT, is what the book is about - slaves.

I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said, but my advice is to slap a working title on it whether you hate it not. Then try another and another and another...
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby polymath » 27 Jan 2011, 15:23

I ask whether the title says what the novel is about, or about a focal character, or dramatic complication, setting, idea, event, or theme. A great title will begin introductions and maybe stand up through publication. A not-so-great title might entice screening readers somewhat, but the publisher might retitle the novel prior to publication. It's not something to lose sleep over.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Matthew MacNish » 28 Jan 2011, 11:27

Personally, I've only written one novel, and the title WARRIOR-MONKS, which is really just a working title, sounds kind of lame to me. I mean it's okay, but if I even manage to get it published I'm hoping someone can come up with something better.

It's funny too, because whenever I write a bit of flash fiction or a short story, I usually just ask Bryan Russell (Ink) to help me think of something to call it. He's really good at that.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby Beethovenfan » 28 Jan 2011, 12:14

BetweenTwoWorlds wrote:Oh, I wish I knew the answer.

The title for my current WIP seemed to fit so perfect. (The WIP is still in edit/review mode.) I loved the title. When I shared the work with my writing groups, they all said "Sounds like a Regency romance novel set in the Southwest."

Which it is not.

At all.

So now I have a "temporary" title in place so I can refer to it & not wince. I'm fully expecting that the geniuses at the publishing house that buys my book and gives me moolah will think of an even better title than "Venice the Menace."



VENICE THE MENACE - Freaking. Hilarious! I actually laughed out loud. Thank you Betweentwoworlds.

My manuscripts have a title that I just throw on at the beginning, something that sort of tells what I'm writing about. But mostly just so I can find it again in my files. Then, when I'm finished (or at least more than half way finished) with the writing, I try to think of a one-word title. I personally like titles to be short and sweet. It's almost like a game to come up with only one word that will describe my novel. I've had my readers and even family members help me with this. But most of all, as has already been said, don't stress over it. If and when you finally make it to the point of being published, the title you come up with will most likely have been discarded long ago.
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Re: How do you title a book?

Postby sierramcconnell » 28 Jan 2011, 16:20

Well, like the rest of the book, it usually just comes to me. I figure it'll probably get changed into something more sparkly later. Mostly they're just good for saving files. :3

So far I have...

The Chasing Series:
Chasing Miracles - Because the main protag is trying to save his friend and it'll be a miracle if he does.
Chasing Destiny - Because its all about being destined to fulfill prophecy and all that nonsense that the main protags refuse to do. It's in progress.
Chasing Forgiveness - It's rather dark, it's not fleshed out, but it's about tying up the loose ends they left from the mess they made in the first two books.

The Eden Series:
Eden Underground - It's about the Underground, the Angelic Undead, and the world behind the one Bradley lived in.
Eden Down Under - Basically, Bradley's training under his little older brother to be a better leader and the Angelic Undead are after him. Oh, but obviously it's taking place in Australia (Belinda Bellissimo Beltran is from there, you know ;3).
(I haven't gotten here yet... XD) - There will be something to tie things up...

Heh...I'm a sucker for trilogies. I bet agents will hate me. Unless they think I'm good. XD
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