1. Russo
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    Russo Member

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    Long Titles?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Russo, Jul 29, 2014.

    How necessary are long titles? Does it matter? Mine consists of 5 words, but I'm thinking it's too long. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    Funny, I was actually doing some research today on the ideal price point for e-books when I came across this nifty Smashwords Survey post: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/05/new-smashwords-survey-helps-authors.html

    The statistics are a little dated (about a year old), but showed there's a very slight tendency of shorter titles to sell better. That being said, even the author comments that you should "think less about word count and more about choosing a title that, like good writing, is concise, clear and intriguing." Which I'm inclined to agree with. The length of the title doesn't matter so much as its ability to attract the reader.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. One of my favorite titles of any book, were it to have been any other combination of words, is a title I would have described as "too long", but in this case it works gorgeously. Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delaney.

    To add to this, in another thread (this one concerning cover art) I had reason to peruse a website dedicated to cover art fails and more than the art and font work that was off, I noticed some titles that were painfully cumbersome in their layered complexity. Some books even seemed to have more than one title and also a mention of the series to which they belonged and then a mention that it was a (fill in the genre) book by So&So Magoo. I was like, is this a title or a prologue? :wtf:
     
  4. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Politicians, musicians, actors and even brands are more successful if they have a short name with only one or two syllables. It helps people remember them.
    The same can be true to books with the difference that a book's title can have a meaning (not always) unlike most names.

    Thinking about the titles of books I have on my shelf I would say 5 words is longer than the average. Most of them have 1-3 words in their titles.
     
  5. Russo
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    Russo Member

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    Hmm. Maybe I should shorten it. Also it consists of the word "love" so its obviously a romance. Is that too much? Im an amateur writer with no true educational background for writing. Though I've been writing for at least 10 years, yet I feel like I have a lot to learn. Thinking about doing a lot of research and studying.
     
  6. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    One word for me. If I could make it relevant, one letter.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The title of my main novel has five words. I haven't come up with titles yet for my other novel, or for my stories-that-grow-into-novels.

    I like long titles. What's wrong with them? Hemingway loved them: For Whom the Bell Tolls. Across the River and Into the Trees.

    Italo Calvino: If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

    Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth

    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Word for World Is Forest

    What's the matter with long titles?

    EDIT:

    Aldous Huxley: After Many A Summer Dies the Swan

    Dave Eggers: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh my god I am so bad at titles. I turn green with envy when I encounter a good one.
     
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  9. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    My books name is Rabies. I think that with an evil looking dog in the cover it's going to at least gt some attention.
     
  10. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Long titles? The one that is forever etched in my mind (probably, at least in part, because I did a series of short stories on Billy the Kid) is the title of Pat Garret's self aggrandizing 'biography' of The Kid:

    The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, the Noted Desperado of the
    Southwest, Whose Deeds of Daring and Blood Made His Name
    a Terror in New Mexico, Arizona, & Northern Mexico: as told
    by Pat F. Garrett, Sheriff of Lincoln Co., N. M., by Whom He Was
    Finally Hunted Down & Captured by Killing Him
    "

    "Yeh. That's really the original title. Now how's THAT for a long-winded title?!
    Captured by Killing Him"? How does that work, exactly?

    Also, it would be doing a disservice to not point out that Garrett's claim of authenticity has since been debunked on many counts and the book (bearing subsequently shorter and shorter titles). The accuracy of many events has been called into question and the book is now considered no more than 'stories'.

    The most recent version of the title is still a mouthful and longer than the average today is simply, "The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid".Captured by Killing Him"? How does that work, exactly?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Interesting question. I love short titles, but that's probably cause I'm a fan of Hitchcock and love his title brevity - my fave's - Rope, Marnie, Psycho, Lifeboat. I like something that is easy to remember, sums up an idea of the story nicely without creating too much conflicting ideas or confusion. Over the years my own titles tend to be short. Right now waiting in the queue are -
    Angel Angle
    Smackdolligus
    Elbow Room
    Pecking Order
    Tree of Men ( well actually I think that's pretty much finished )
    Cockroach Apocalypse
    Beaut
    Tinsel
    Vulture Bait
    Skulldaddy
    Moon Grubs

    My longest titles - Frosted Gothic Lollipop, Blood Fang Drip Drip, The Dolls of Veras Crag, The Worms of Wicher-Woo.

    I never settle in my heart when a title is a title, I leave my options open cause first things first I want to pique the reader's interest but I also know I need to make sure the title gives the right impression of what the book is about . If it doesn't, I change it - for instance Beaut is the name of my mc which is why I chose it for a title but it's an end-of-the-world sci-fi which the title doesn't really even hint of - so that one is up for change.

    I don't think five words is too long - not if it suits your book. Some of my fave five word titles - The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, The Cat that Ate My Gymsuit, The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Cat in the Hat, Something Wicked this Way Comes.
     
  12. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma
     
  13. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Talking of book titles, I've never really thought about the length of them but I can say that I don't like titles that begin with the word 'The'

    I'm not sure why but I just don't like them.

    With my own title though, I wanted to get the title of the book to be the last words spoken or thought by a character. And I did. :)
     
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  14. jannert
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    Actually, that's a good idea. The last words spoken of thought by the main character. I like it. It will certainly bring the book's theme full-circle. I like it when relevance dawns slowly, preferably after I finish reading a book ...oh THAT'S what the title meant. And a title connection like that also makes it clear that the authors know what they're doing. They''ve started their book with the end of it, but without being obvious. Yeah. I like that idea.
     
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  15. Nightstar99
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    I thought the publisher chooses the title? I thought it would be good to have something apposite to put on the query letter to catch an agent's interest, but that probably wouldn't be a title I would personally choose.
     
  16. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    erm *points to signature* yeah, im a long title user... i do have another WIP called Harvest:The Devils Orchard. with the possible series/trilogy title Oculus In Infernum...

    *edit* ive changed my sig, and it now doesnt have them in it. i think i might change it back now....
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  17. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Thanks. It was one of those eureka moments that I have also carried on to the follow up book too. They are the moments I like the best. When you read something and then five minutes later, you get the connection of something, like a lightbulb moment.
     
  18. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    ive been thinking over this again, and debating the book title of my current WIP

    im looking at these options

    An Unseen Empire (Herrscher)
    Herrcher (An Unseen Empire)
    An Unseen Empire
    Herrscher

    i cant decide which one to go for (which is annoying, because any would fit the WIP so well its unbelievable...)
    oh, and Herrcher is german for Leader.... (or so i am lead to believe.)
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Wow, that is a mouthful. Honestly, if I were Pat Garrett, I would've titled it: How I Killed Billy the Kid. Short, simple, and sweet.

    @ChaosReigns - I would go for An Unseen Empire: Herrcher. Sounds more epic that way. :D
     
  20. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    @Link the Writer actually that sounds pretty awesome! it is an epic fantasy after all, and i was looking for something epic sounding! thank you!
     
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  21. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Leader is Führer. Herrscher means monarch.

    If 'voting' is still open I would vote for "An Unseen Empire"
     
  22. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    The trouble with Fuhrer, is that the term is now most associated with Hitler. Which is OK if that's what your book is about.
     
  23. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Thank you for the clarification Vandor, it is appreciated (i have little knowledge of german, which is why i struggled with the translation.)

    basically this is book 3 of the series and at the end of book 2 the Human MC finds out he is the "Captain Commander" (the term used for head of state in the particular country) of a country he had left 70 years prior (he was travelling for about 10 years and stuck in a different country for 60 more years) and has to run that country alongside his leadership role in a country that he had called home for the past 9 months (reason being leader is that there are 3 different races, each with their own leader) and full armies under his control in both countries. pretty much making an empire (both countries are large. and with a third countries inhabitants following him, he has about 1,000,000 troops in total, giving him the power to obliterate)

    he tries to strike a balance between being merciless and compassionate, but being someone with a very very harsh upbringing and forced training regimen, he finds it hard to be compassionate and manage his anger, causing him to lash out.

    as CuteCat rightly said, The trouble with Fuhrer is that it is associated with Hitler quite a lot, which isnt what this character is like. i would tell you more, but the plot is so heavily intertwined that it would take forever for me to untangle it to explain it.

    that and i dont want to hijack this thread....
     
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  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I favor short titles. Herrscher is a bit obscure, so I'd be inclined to go with just Unseen Empire.
     
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  25. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Thank you Cog, to be honest, i was wondering if Herrscher would be a little too obscure, and whether or not it would work as a title (it being german while the actual novel itself is written in english...)


    and ive realised that i well and truly have myself an epic fantasy, with the quantity of stuff going on in it, im hoping that 4 books is enough...
     

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