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  1. Hannah0113
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    Hannah0113 Member

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    How do you choose a title for your novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hannah0113, Jun 4, 2015.

    When writing a novel, how do you choose a title for it? Does anyone have a specific method for this, or does it just come to you at some point?
     
  2. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    I like to use double entendres most of the time. The first meaning is obvious, and then the second is revealed as you read the book. I think of a short phrase that relates to the main character's occupation or motivation. For instance, a book I'm writing about the Vietnam War is titled Marching Orders, and I also wrote a book about a comedian called Tough Crowd.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Mine is a mix of everything. Though I've never completed anything without first having found a title. I took Vulture Bait from a line of dialogue and Not Pink from the first line. Mostly I use sensible titles from characters names - Thunderbolt, Tinsel, Beaut, September - or just straightforward descriptions- The Parking Lot, The Dolls of Veras Crag, The House on the Moon. Right now I'm about to start a novel and I already have the title, House of Cadre for it. It came by a bit of research.
    I like to look at pictures, artwork, or things that will be in my story to help jog a word or phrase for a title.
    The trick is not to sweat them. When I think of an idea and jot it down I give it a simple title - often the title sticks. I like plain, easy to remember titles best. And I can usually feel when the title is the right one.
     
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  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I typically go through phases of trying to brainstorm ideas and just letting it sorta stew in the background and let something hopefully come to mind. Sort of throw a bunch of loose ideas and my brain and see what happens, hahah.

    My science fiction series has sciencey names - I had to do a bit of research on thermodynamics for one but it was worth it, and for previously-considered names I researched colony collapse for the fall of a society, and some religious terminology for an arc about a messiah figure. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that this sf series is about death/decay/finality and picked out names for each novel that reflect this (stuff like Atrophy, Relapse, and Entropy). Theming is super important for serieses imo. The current overall series name has the same idea behind it, and is a line from a poem about space that actually has a very positive attitude in contrast to the tone of the series itself, so my hope is that knowing the poem kinda casts some events in a slightly different light.

    I have another planned series that references Greek mythology a lot so a fair few names reflect that, some more overtly than others. For my urban fantasy story I ended up naming it after the first thing I thought of for the 'verse, which is this magical drug. My post-apoc story is named Epoch, which is a synonym for like 'era' or 'age', referring to this new post-apocalyptic world being totally different from the previous one, and it also sounds a lot like 'apoc' so hey.

    I have so many things I still need to name though and I'm typically totally at a loss for what to call stuff until the moment strikes and I'm like THAT'S A PERFECT NAME.

    Oh, and if we can talk about short stories, I usually end up picking a single word from towards the end of the short that I feel sums it up to some degree. Big preference for single word titles in both shorts and novels, I just have a lot more experience naming shorts.

    eta: also, arc words!
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
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  5. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I tend to go with a plot device, eg if I was writing about a man who had to stop a sandwich from eating mankind via time travel, I'd probably call it 'the time traveller' the reader would get a sense of the book, but would still not give anything away
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had a trilogy (vaguely Games of Thrones) planned, possibly inspired by "the Iron Throne":

    To Cast a Die
    To Forge a Throne
    To Found a Dynasty
     
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  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    For one word titles I look for a word that best describes the theme/feeling of the story: Martyr, Backlash, Elemental, Aberration, 9mm.

    Other times a phrase or group of words I find interesting does the trick: Tourist Season, Random Acts of Normal, The Innate Destiny of Harmony and Rocket and Their Ineluctable Attraction, Crimson Cornflakes, A Night in the Black Spider, In the Valley of the White Tiger.

    And some, usually for short film scripts, are just plain fun and dumb, usually based on a true spoken line I found funny at the time: Don't Wobble My Sideboard, Monkeys in the Tall Grass, Dramatic Milk, Little Red Rider in da Hood.
     
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  8. Hannah0113
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    Hannah0113 Member

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    Right now, I'm at a point where I have a one-word title that I came up with during the first chapter. It hasn't changed yet, and it does have a central meaning to the novel as a whole, but I can't decide if I want to change it yet.
     
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  9. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    It's really random for me. Sometimes I have the title before I even start writing the story, other times I have the whole story but cannot think of a title because it covers so many themes.

    For my second book, I literally just picked a letter, opened the dictionary, found a word, liked the definition (semi related to my story) and just used that. It worked quite well :)
     
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  10. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    A song title.

    I really like a two-word-title song from the 80s. I wanted to use it as the theme song for a movie I am planning. As I developed the movie concept, the trilogy of novels providing the background (kinda) to the movie began to grow, and I simply reused the first word of the title with a second word for the names of the books. The song lyrics then made even more sense with the novels and the concepts I wish to develop within them, which was also kinda cool.
     
  11. Hannah0113
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    Hannah0113 Member

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    This is definitely a unique way to choose a title! I might try it out :bigsmile:
     
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  12. Hannah0113
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    Hannah0113 Member

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    I love this! I never would have thought of that. Do you run into any type of copyright issues if you publish something with a title like this?
     
  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I generally choose titles that consist of something that at first contradicts itself but makes sense as the story goes on. Like Cold Fire.
     
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  14. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    My close friend is a legal secretary at an IP law firm, and after discussion with her, I believe the book title is fine, as it's a separate / distinct body of work, but don't quote me and IANAL. When the novels get close enough to editing, I will pursue those areas of questionable legal content.

    I emailed the band and gained permission to use the song in my movie as long as the movie is not commercial. It's so far away in terms of being produced that this seemed fine at the time. I have oscillated from "that's fine" to "oh damn what if I could Kickstarter this movie" back to "huh, maybe it can be free but generate interest in the books" to "damn this is going to take a long time". :D I'm in no hurry and so far loving the journey.
     
  15. Hannah0113
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    Hannah0113 Member

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    Thanks for the info! I'm nowhere near the point where I would have to worry about this, I was just curious. Now to scour all the song titles from the beginning of time.. :rolleyes:
     
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  16. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/titles-and-law-can-i-call-my-novel.html

    Something like that, but will reiterate: I am not a lawyer.
     
  17. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    I like this idea, and both the titles of your books. I've changed the title of mine several times and it's a real sticking point for me. I'm initially attracted to a book by its title and I'm a firm believer that both the title and the cover design influence potential readers long before they've read the blurb.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
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  18. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    Thanks. That's very nice of you. I'm now finally accustomed to your new avatar. Feel free to change it back, therefore forcing me to insanity.
     
  19. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    One of my current projects uses Shakespearean phrases for titles (it's about fairies), while another (steampunk) uses flowery titles like "The Curious Gallery" or "The Unfortunate Door".
     
  20. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    Avatars are like book covers/titles: they need to be memorable otherwise they end up on the shelf of mediocrity :p.
    The first meaning is obvious, and then the second is revealed as you dig deeper. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you're anything like me, who struggles almightily (new adverb, take THAT you adverb haters! :supertongue:) to come up with book titles, you can mine lyrics of songs. However, be careful because you can get in trouble with copywritten songs. So ...I use traditional music which are written by that good old songsmith Anonymous. Because it's an interest of mine, I've got zillions of lines to choose from. My stories are historically-set, so this fits.

    However, my one-word working title for my first novel has stuck, and it will be the title I publish with.
     
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  22. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    I see what you did there. (Mouth open with awe)
     
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  23. Sweetness11
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    Sweetness11 New Member

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    I think Taylor swift owns the rights to her song titles
     
  24. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    The despicable bowl of spaghetti?
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I honestly don't have a clue where my titles come from. I used to work hard at finding just the right one, but that rarely--if ever--worked out.

    So I guess I'm a pantser when it comes to titles. :)
     

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