The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

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The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by bcomet » January 15th, 2013, 2:44 pm

Like Polymath (but no way as informed or intellectual on these things), I take time -especially when my curiosity gets that pique- to try to learn and improve my understanding of language and grammar.

Anyway, lately, I have noticed what to me seems a big trend in titles that are (one word) verbs-turned-into-nouns:



I'm wondering what others think about this?

(It is personally starting to drive me a little crazy. :-D )

I mean, in some instances, it is minimal and striking, but in many cases, to me anyway, it seems falsely trendy, as if many using this are trying (maybe too hard) to brand themselves.

But I have oft thought that titles are art forms in and of themselves. They hold the opening, herald an adventure: a story, are an invitation to enter in. (I have picked up many books, at least initially, because of intrigue of their titles.)

A name -Moby-Dick- or a description of the main character -The Shapeshifter's Wife-can become enduring. The name of a place that a story impacts or is impacted by, an event, a thing, a phrase, or "title" that defines the body in a significant-to-that-story is what stands out for me in powerful titles.

So my discussion here is both about the power of titles -and which ones have drawn you powerfully to a great story- as well as about this current seeming trend of verbs+ions in titles.

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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by wilderness » January 15th, 2013, 6:15 pm

I don't love them either. Those type of titles seem to indicate a thriller or action-packed story, but they don't give you anything to picture. They are extremely overused and generic. How many books are titled Deception? A lot. But I guess they sell books, or publishers wouldn't keep using them!

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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by Homeless Drifter » January 15th, 2013, 8:09 pm

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw. I happened to see this book by spine first in the final days of Borders. I didn't have to see the cover or read the back (although I did both) to know that I would by it. It's probably my favorite book. No title has grabbed before or since then like that one did. Another great title by the same author is The Man who Rained. I look forward to reading his third book.

Neverwhere is another one that grabs me just because of the implication of those two words forming one to describe a place. I'm really not a fan of the one word titles either. I feel like they're being over done and the way the cover art is it's all so similar that I automatically assume all the stories are going to be very similar (I just realized this) so I steer away from them.

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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by dios4vida » January 16th, 2013, 1:57 pm

I...don't really know. On one hand I have one-word titles like Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless) and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series (Darkfever, Faefever, Bloodfever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever). I love those books and the titles. Also on my bookshelf are Boneshaker (Cherie Priest), Mortalis, Ascendance, Transcendence, Immortalis (R.A. Salvatore), Lamentation and Canticle (Ken Scholes), Hyperion (Dan Simmons), Anathem (Neal Stephenson), and Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath (Scott Westerfeld). Most of those aren't the action-noun titles you're talking about, but they're all one word and I think most of them work well enough for the stories. Though the only ones I picked up without either a recommendation or some knowledge of the story were Lamentation and Anathem - both very evocative words that tell a lot about the tone of the story without having to know anything about them.

As for the action-noun titles themselves, like Hounded by Kevin Hearne that I have in my TBR pile, I'm neither for nor against them. I do agree they often don't tell much of the story by themselves, but often once several books in the series have been published you definitely see a trend and the titles start making more sense. I both love and hate when they do that. I love it when the titles are very meaningful for the story, but having to wait forever to find that importance gets a bit obnoxious.

To be honest, the titles that bother me more are the ones you listed as being endearing - names only (Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer) and basic descriptions of the main character (The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffeneger). They tell me little to nothing about the book. I would much rather have a title that speaks to the struggles and themes in the book or give some kind of insight to the character/story - The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan). These are interesting in and of themselves, and as you read you learn why they are important. That makes them much more powerful to me.
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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by MAP » January 16th, 2013, 4:16 pm

I don't like the titles you've listed except Inception (it worked well for that movie), they feel too generic to me, but I do like some single word titles like Twilight and Matched and Soulless. I also like titles like Crime and Punnishment, Pride and Prejudice, and War and Peace. I like titles that touch on theme like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind. I like intriguing titles like The Forest of Hands and Feet and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

For series, I like it when the titles all match like Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, etc, or Harry Potter and the (fill in the blank).

I'm not really sure if there is any trend here, but I love it when I finish the book and the title feels like it fits the story I've read, that doesn't always happen.

Coming up with titles is really hard for me. I don't know how to distill a whole book into a few words or even a phrase.

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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by sierramcconnell » January 22nd, 2013, 12:23 pm

I'm not a fan of one word titles unless it explains everything in one word.

Of course, I'm guilty of giving my books long names associated with each other, like Eden Underground, Eden Down Under, and Eden Out of Control (tentative? yes).
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Re: The Current Trend of Using Action Noun Titles

Post by Sommer Leigh » January 22nd, 2013, 12:50 pm

It's not a new trend. It kind of waxes and wanes, but like in YA and Middlegrade, it never really goes away.

I don't really have a feeling about it one way or the other. Some work, some don't, but I think that is the same for all types of titles.

I personally like when the one word title ties in beautifully with the cover art, but again, I can go either way.

I think they tend to characterize commercial fiction that is fun to read but maybe doesn't have the lasting power anyway. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

These are some of the one word actiony noun titles on my TBR list. They are far outnumbered by non-actiony titles and they are not the only type of one word titles on my TBR. Some of them work. Some of them don't. I LOVE "Touched," "Glitch," and "Above" as titles for their respective books.It works well for them.

May the word counts be ever in your favor.
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