1. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    Title trouble

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MrWisp, Sep 3, 2013.

    Does anyone else here have a hell of a time coming up with titles? My novel is practically finished, and I swear, this has been the most difficult part. I'm currently skimming through my draft for eye-catching or particularly important phrases, but none of them seem to encapsulate the story well enough. I'm about ready to throw a bunch of words in a hat.

    Any tips from more experienced folks for nailing that perfect title? Am I crazy for ending with the creation of the title instead of starting out with that?

    Thanks in advance for any tips on methods that you use!
     
  2. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    No, the book should matter more than the title. I just make up my title as I go. (I am lame.:cool:) What is your book actually about?
     
  3. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    Well, you ask what it's about, and I think therein lies the problem. lol. It's a fantasy book (not swords and elves and such, but some mystical elements), and I think I'm trying to avoid the "typical" fantasy titles because those elements are really not at the forefront of the story. I think I'm putting myself between a rock and a hard place. I don't want to portray the book as strictly fantasy, but I also don't want to mislead the reader so that he/she is hit with fantasy elements out of nowhere. Does that make sense?

    For example, there is an item in the book called the Heart of Munera, which a lot of the plot development is centered around. However, calling it "The Heart of Munera" sounds too fantasy for me and is not inviting to a wide audience. I'm thinking now of aiming more toward theme for the title, regardless of whether the phrase that I choose even appears in the book or not. Frankly, I'll never be a fan of her books, but I'd be happy to go the Stephanie Meyer route with a simple title like "Twilight" than an overly-specific reference to the plot.

    Oh well. It's my goal this week. I'll keep you posted. :)
     
  4. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    "Munera", maybe?
    I think it's more "The Feel of your story" then what the story is actually about that makes a good title.
     
  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I personally use short, punchy titles that I hope grabs a book-browser's attention. For example: a first name, a made-up word, an unusual word, etc. Sometimes using numbers works for me, too. Just try and think, "what's different about my story?" Make a list or diagram of them. Once done, fiddle with the different phrases or single words and mix them together. Sometimes you can create something wonderful.

    However, not all titles have to be short and catchy. In fact, sometimes the opposite makes a title attention-drawing e.g. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared. Is this a usual title style? I think not. So remember that you always have to stay within boundaries if that's what's holding you back from creating a great title.

    And if you still can't think of one, just Google, "How to create a great novel title." I'm sure something will come up and help you.
     
  6. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    We're on the same page, today, Thomas. :) Just before reading your comment, I was making a list of words that either repeat a lot in the story or otherwise have significance. Now I'm trying to mix and match. I've found a few possibilities, though at least one seems to be very popular (the title of 14 novels already!), so that one is out. I'm sure I'll get one today.

    And Duchess, good suggestion, but "Munera" is actually a reference to a lamprey from White's Bestiary, so talk about off-putting. lol. I can just picture the cover of the book with an illustration depicting one of the most disgusting animals in the world. Not sure it would sell. I should have explained that. :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i never have any trouble with titling, so if you want to post or send me your synopsis, i'll be glad to give you a list of possibilities...
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You are correct to leave titling to the end. The only project I ever really struggled with for a title was my very first one. Since then, I usually come up with a working title, often a simple generic description of what I'm doing, and then change it as new ideas emerge. Waiting until the end allows me to decide if my title will focus on the main character, the location or a central event in the story. Sometimes, you'll hit on a title that captures two of these elements, such as Major Pickering's Last Stand.
     
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  9. I. R. Writer.
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    I. R. Writer. New Member

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    I tend to use phrases or parts of to title my stories. For instance, a story of mine consists of a main character losing a puppy to a fatal canine disease, but holding people close to him responsible. Originally named Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, now trimmed down to Sleeping Dogs.

    If you continue to draw a blank perhaps name it after your main character, or better still, consider a similar title to that of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; Main Character & The Heart of Munera.
     
  10. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    Thanks for your input and ideas, everyone. I toyed with the idea of doing the "Main Character & ..." idea, but haven't because (a) like Harry Potter, my main character's name is fairly common and wouldn't really catch a reader's attention, and (b) because I feel that books with titles like those imply that there is a series attached. Now, I would love for this to become a series, but I'm trying to stick to the "first book should stand alone" school of thought as much as possible. The idea is not off the table, though...

    I know that several of you who have commented have weighed in on legal/copyright issues in the past on these forums, so I was wondering if you could give me some guidance here. What is the legality of using a famous quote/phrase/expression as my title? For instance, say I titled my story, A Rose by Any Other Name (which, don't worry, I wouldn't) As a fairly well-known line from Shakespeare, would that be acceptable? Thanks again for all the help, everyone! This has definitely put my gears into motion!
     
  11. wolfenburg
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    wolfenburg Member

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    I try to create titles that ask a question, hoping to spark immediate interest. For example if you were to write a book about a sea monster that attacks a stranded vessel. You could call it "The thing beneath the surface". This hopefully makes perspective readers ask, "Well whats beneath the surface? Lets find out."
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The works of Shakespeare are all in the public domain now, so you can quote them to your heart's content (at least, I think so, but I'm not a lawyer).

    Many writers have used famous quotes as titles. Hemingway made a habit of it. He admitted once that he found his titles by going through books of quotations. Feel free to do the same.
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've not yet put my finger on what quality of a title draws me in, but I definitely see them. In our own forum, "May I Never Turn Into a Coffee Table" is one such title. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is great, but I can see why "Blade Runner" was a better title for the movie. I think a title that sparks one's curiosity is an ideal to strive for.

    I have a title I like, (even already bought the domaine name, they're cheap), but it isn't perfect so I may change it before I'm done. I didn't decide on it until the book was 3/4 along.
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. I'd never thought of buying the domain name for my title before, but it's a good idea! How much did it cost (if you don't mind my asking)?
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Less than $10/US/yr. There are a number of competing companies that you can go through with slightly different prices and options. I only bought a year in case I choose a different name but you can renew it or buy more than a year. There are multiple extensions now so it would cost you to register each of them if you wanted to monopolize the entire domaine name: .org, .com, .co and a bunch more. But that also means if your domaine name is taken you might be able to get it with a different extension.

    I just took the .com.
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I suck at coming up with titles as well. I wish I could do the poem thing and just take the first sentence of the manuscript and make it the title, but unfortunately that'd result in a lot of stupid titles.
     
  17. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Crime writer Shiela Quigley uses popular song titles for her novels and she is doing all right - her novels are good though! (titles are not covered by copyright)
     
  18. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a fun idea.

    Though one writer I really quite dislike used one of my favorite songs as the title for her novel which made me seethe -- oh the injustice! :D
     
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  19. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I use lots of things. Song titles have been one of them. Place names (I/E my MC Alésia Connor named for the Gaul city of Alésia). Phrases too. One of my upcoming projects is about two best friends that grew up seemingly perfect lives, then were suddenly thrown into disarray and started committing crimes, using drugs, etc.. That one already has a working title of "Fallen Angels." It always seems to be my short stories that I can't name. In addition to my current piece, I have a novella, maybe novelette going that takes place 30 years after the end of my current one. In that one the MC (who is a heavy smoker) is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given four months to live and shows how she wraps up her affairs and says her goodbyes to the world. Basically it's the final wrap up for this characters arc before I put her away and create someone new. Title? I have no clue. I just labeled it "Death Sentence" in my folders for now.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What is the theme of your book? I have the same trouble too, but since I haven't finished my book yet, I'm not worrying about it yet. So far, my temporary file name has changed from Shadow War (because of the war waged between the living and the dead, led by Shadow Walker) to Resurrection (because of the theme of redemption and that originally, someone does actually resurrects).

    I'm wondering about keeping Resurrection, but not sure.
     

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