Fiction, Writing

What’s in a name?

Because I’m cleaning house today instead of writing (really, as soon as I’m done with this post) I’m thinking of book titles. I’ve read that some writers have chosen their title before they write the book, others haven’t settled on one until right before publication, and the rest, I presume, come up with a title somewhere in between.

I thought I had a title for my current novel, but now I think not. Book titles are important. I know this, and that’s why I’m now concerned that I don’t have one. What if I can’t think of a good title… a great title? Leaving the decision to someone else would be like letting someone else name my child—not something I want to do. I’m wondering, will my title come from the theme, a line in the book, the color of my protagonist’s eyes? So, I have a question for my fellow writers. How do you find the titles for your books?

12 thoughts on “What’s in a name?”

  1. I like unique titles that hint at the main conflict and evoke the appropriate mood. “Sally Smith and the Slavering Beast” makes me think of one book from a children’s comedy series, so I wouldn’t use it for a stand-alone novel meant solely for adults. (This is a wild, on-the-spot example, obviously.)

    I have outlines for four novels set in different worlds, and the titles for three of those developed with each idea. The fourth title is for the more complete novel, and I’ve used an awful working title (Odal’s Story) as a filler while I decide on something appropriate. I’ve hand-written most of my rough draft and added “Odal’s Story (working title)” to the top of every, single page. Not fun.

    I think the difference between Odal’s Story and my other novels-to-be is my certainty of the mood. Odal’s Story jumps from light-hearted to tragic to romantic to whatever. Right now, the title isn’t the weakest point.

    Maybe you don’t have a title yet because it hasn’t mattered. When you’re ready to write queries, you’ll know how to announce your story.

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  2. I have the hardest time with titles. I’ve often screamed out in frustration, “Will somebody else just name my baby?” Yeah, no help here. Good luck. Now, writing a whole book, that’s a different story. That I can do.

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  3. I loved your first title. My first book was so hard to name, but my second one had a name from the first page. I don’t know what made the difference, and there is a good chance one or both will change in the future because I’m still not sure about either one.

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