Creating Great Titles
Gone with the Wind. Old Yellar. Who’s the Boss. Sex and the Single Vampire. Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. These are great titles because they tell us the genre, indicate tone and are memorable. Here is how you can create your own great title.
Why even care about a title when the publisher will change it anyway? Yes, the publisher may change it but if you are unpublished or even if the piece is not under contract, the title is going to have an impact in contests and with potential agents and editors. A strong title will make it more memorable.
I have a series of books about super human women called Amazons. Book one is Bravery Not Included and the second book is Some Assembly Required. The third book is called (currently) Construction Under Way but it doesn’t quite fit with the first two.
So how do I come up with titles? I try to avoid certain words like Love’s, or Forever, or Passion. The possessive form of love isn’t strong enough to carry a title and besides letting the reader know they are about to read a romance, it tells them little about the plot. The title needs to convey the genre or tone or both and hint at or tie into the book in some way.
Don’t push title creation. Titles happen in a flash of genius. The light bulbs that create such flashes are available at any hardware store. No, just kidding. The two things that I see people struggle with in creating a title is they stick with their first choice and they are afraid to seem silly during the brainstorming process. Brainstorming requires a certain amount of crap to be cleared out of your head for you to achieve or get to the good stuff. Write all ideas down, even if you know you won’t use them. That way you can see what the process looks like on the page and play with the words. By occupying your brain with hesitancy over an idea or repressing that idea, you block other ideas, so write it down to get it out of the way.
You want to push yourself to at least ten ideas. The first few will be flippant, easy answers. 6 through 8 tend to be painful and awkward but 9 and 10 are much more usable. Write it down and press past it so you have ideas to create off of. This is the Tool of 10 and can be great when thinking of plot points, a character’s back story and any other spots where you’re stuck and trying to figure out where to go next.