1. SunnyDays
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    SunnyDays Member

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    Short title vs. long title

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SunnyDays, Jan 28, 2012.

    Is a one worded title better or a title that explains what the book is mainly all about?
     
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    It depends on what you want to portray
    for example
    consider the title

    debauchery
    that is quite a strong word that stands best on its own.

    then take this one
    the art of privacy
    this one is short but speaks volume.

    take this third one
    how to be you
    all words are needed because together they convey an idea.

    So a tile in my opinion is an idea not a summary.
     
  3. UrbanBanshee
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    UrbanBanshee Member

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    Personally I'm not fond of single word titles. It's a combination of never being able to find that one specific book called tomorrow and not being fond of titles that either sound super generic or like an author flipped through a dictionary to find the most obscure word ever.

    For stories that have a serious tone I'd recomend a short (but not too short) title. If you give a story too long of a title it sounds silly.

    Dramatic: Tomorrow I'll Miss You or The Ocean Has You
    Silly: Tomorrow I'll Miss You Because The Ocean Has You Now

    Okay so I kinda suck at creating titles, stop laughing. Point is I say try for something that is more then one word, that conveys the type and tone of your story without the title getting too long. JMO of course. Titles are hard, I'm stuck myself. Maybe because I'm so picky.
     
  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personal preference, but I like short and sharp titles.
     
  5. twelveninetysix
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    twelveninetysix Member

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    Generally I'd say somewhere inbetween. Of course, I'd say the style of your writing matters very much too. If you are more of a "wordy", detailed, writer (although no purple prose, please God no ;) ) then a longer title might seem more natural. If you are a more concise and clinical writer then it would probably be more appropriate to describe the main point of your book in just a few words.
     
  6. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    It depends on what you mean by "better." I'd say the best titles convey a general idea of what the book is about while also being memorable. One word titles such as these:

    Beloved, Toni Morrison
    Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw
    Persuasion, Jane Austen
    Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

    look pleasing to me, and they did pretty damn well. I like short, concise titles best, like these:

    All The King's Men
    , Robert King Warren
    Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, Michael Morpurgno
    As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
    Dying of the Light, George R. R. Martin

    but sometimes long book titles make us laugh or are more memorable, such as:

    The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Oliver Sacks
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg

    ...so it depends on what you think will catch the reader's eye, hold the reader's interest, and sell the best, for your particular story. All have worked. The benefit to short titles over long ones is that they're often easier to remember. More important than length, I think, is that they be smart. Originality is less important than mood, cadence, rhythm.

    If a publisher gets hold of your manuscript, he/she may or may not decide to change the title to suit the market.
     
  7. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I struggle with this also. I usually try to keep titles under 3 words because it's easier to remember.
     
  8. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I suck at coming up with titles. I had a whole trilogy of titles that I thought were really neat - they all related to two themes that said something about the novel (animals and times of day) and also mirrored each other in structure. Then I condensed the story into a single volume and changed the focus, and now none of them fit.

    Now I have no clue what to call my novel, although in a sense I think that might be better than getting attached to a title that a publiher ends up changing. If I just leave it untitled then I'm sure either my agent or a publisher will come up with something fitting.

    I don't think a single word would do it justice though, as there's no abstract noun that would fully capture the theme of the book. Historical novels are so often called 'something of (the) something' that it's become a bit of a naming convention, so I'm not sure whether to just go with the flow and embrace it, or try and break the mold.
     
  9. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Not really a question of 'better' or worse' -- just whatever you prefer.

    I prefer longer, metaphorical titles, ex. 'Hills like White Elephants'.
     
  10. Blueflare
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    Blueflare Member

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    I'm awful with titles. I don't think I've ever given anything a title in my life, apart from blog posts. :|
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most of my titles tend to be short: Blink, Blue, Neverending, Cold Vengeance. But my first was Forever in a Heartbeat.

    I will use whatever title fits best, in my estimation.If it turns out to be The Girl With a Pocketful of Tomorrows, then that is what it will be.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to use long titles, and I still probably will in the future, but my titles these days are short and very simple, like "The Gun", "The Compass", "Night Rocket", and so on.

    But I like long titles, like Hemingway's titles: "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber", and the like. Or Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar". These titles are vivid, and they inspire me to want to write stories that deserve longer titles like those.
     
  13. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Yeah Cacian is....Cacian is...Right? Is that how it's pronounced? :p (I kid Cacian, I kid.)

    But yes it depends on the content of the book. If the book has a strong theme then you can probably get away with a single word but sometimes the title can be more cryptic like A Song Of Ice And Fire. For one of my ideas about a Zombie horror trilogy the three book titles I have planned each represent a stage in the characters fight against the Zombies.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no 'better/worse' or 'right/wrong' in re title length... there's only what worked and what didn't, in published books...
     
  15. madhoca
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    A book I picked up (when I was a teenager) as soon as I saw it, purely because of its title was The Man Who Cried I Am by John A. Williams, and I'm so glad I read it. It was pretty much what the title indicated it might be, about a man fighting to make a difference, looking back over his life. That's what a good title is, something unforgettable that conveys a little of the spirit of the book (and the era).
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    This ^
     

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