Monday, June 7, 2010

Title Trauma First Aid

Dude, guys. You're so full of inspiration I feel like I can die and go to heaven with a sense of peace. Friday I posted about coming up with THE perfect title, or rather my inability to do so. And here is the wisdom that my fellow bloggers bestowed upon the comments section of the post.


Ina said... I usually make a list of 10-20 words that describe my novel. Then, I look for a pattern within those words, and if they seem mundane and boring, I use a thesaurus to come up with better versions. If it's a character driven story, you could think about combining your MC's name with one of the words on your list (i.e. "Carrie's War").

Personally, I like titles that have two meanings. The reader will likely have an interpretation of your title when beginning your story, and another when finishing it. I think a truly successful title manages to reveal a second layer of meaning to the reader who makes it all the way to the end of the book.

KM said... For my YA dystopian WIP, I used the idea that the culture was hollow and dead; also, I used a Biblical passage for inspiration (Ezekiel 37, which talks about a valley of dry bones coming to life). Thus, the title became "The Valley of Dry Bones."

John Sankovich said... I generally use a theme for my titles. Like my current project is "Unveiled Secrets" Because of the secrets that are revealed throughout the book.

Angela said... For me, I can't push too hard for a title . . . otherwise, naming my MS is pure torture. But if I take a walk, do some laundry, wash some dishes, then ideas usually come to me on their own. They practically fall like rain from the sky.

Linda Sandifer said... I find that some books have titles before I ever begin. Others I stumble onto while writing. Still, others are a struggle. Then you finally come up with one and, if you are lucky enough to get the book published, low and behold the editor will change it (and oftentimes to something totally stupid!).

G said... It's funny, but For my recently finished project, I pulled the title from the 1040 tax form. Specifically, line 21 aka "Other income". The title fits perfectly with the story, which is about a woman who needs to raise money to pay off a debt collector.

DaniSue said... I'll leave it up to the people who get paid to think up great titles and settle for mediocre ones as I write and query.

Jemi Fraser said... Titles either spring into being with the idea of the book - or must be dragged kickiing and screaming from the bowels of hell. Usually it's the latter *sigh*

Renae said... I have a horrid time coming up with titles! I keep a list of phrases or clever words that grab me and use those, but even still titles are almost always problematic.

coffeelvnmom said... When thinking of the title for my completed MS I used something that has to do with the main character and her husband. But on one of the WiPs I've been working on occasionally for the past few months, the title came to me out of the blue two nights ago while I was trying to fall asleep. It was actually something that I imagined she would say and then *lightbulb moment* I realized it could be the title!

Vatche said... I always come up with titles almost the first time I step into a story, because I know the general plot. I usually title it something catchy like "Rules to Live by", "The Human Compass", or "The Good Left Undone." Titles are always important to me, because I never want to use a title that's been done before or is very common.

Stina Lindenblatt said... For my last project, a song from the movie ENCHANTED inspired the title. I have no idea how I came up with a title for my current wip, but it made sense. Plus it shaped the ending paragraph of the book. Not so with the project I'm outlining. I have no idea what to call it. Right now it's Snow White, but that's definitely NOT what it will be called when I'm finished. But that's better than having a file called YA contemporary. ;)

Dana Elmendorf said... My current WIP is called DAY GLOW BLUE, I really don't like the title but figured I have time to come up with something more genius later. Also I did not convey that to my crit partners either and yet two of them went our of their way to tell me the LOVE the title. Where did I get it, it is the color of the light my MC can see and no one else. Titles are torture but you get the right one and your audience is hooked on title alone.

Southpaw said... I played around with titles but nothing clicked until I was almost done. It just seemed to fall into place.

Michelle H. said... I come up with a name at the beginning, change it umpteen times throughout, and then change it back to the original at the story end. And I'm still never satisfied.

Caleb said... Usually, the name comes to me before the story, but this can tend to be distracting in the end. I find poetry is a great place for inspiring titles.


S.A. Larsenッ said...

Ooh, some great ideas! I like the musical inspirations and writing down the 'problematic' titles. Why not be controversial?

Renae said...

Great ideas!

Janet Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing. Great ideas!

Anne Gallagher said...

These are all great ideas! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awesome! There's a lot of brilliance there, Bethany! :-)

Unknown said...

People in the blogging world rock my socks off!

Angela Ackerman said...

Don't forget the power of Wordle! Let it analyze some of your book and see what pops out!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm definitely going to use some of those from now on - awesome!

G. B. Miller said...

Good post, and thanks for the shout out.

Hope you're able to find a good idea amongst all those winners that everyone posted.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Nice shout out for some great advice! Thanks for the links. :)

Angela McCallister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela McCallister said...

Awesome and timely post! I'm awful with choosing titles. I very daringly decided to challenge myself with Slushpile Slut's Next Top Title Blogfest on June 12. Maybe I can get some good feedback on possible titles for my WIPs. Anyone else game?

Katie said...

LOVE the tax form one. How cool! Wish I had a cool story like that for my titles. haha

Lydia Kang said...

These were great to read! I got some good ideas on brainstorming my next novel title!

Jennie Englund said...

Titles... so important, and so tricky.

HarperCollins editor Jordan Brown plugged one-word titles at the SCBWI WW conference in April.

I like double-entendres, if they aren't overly obvious.

Or setting. Setting is good, and easy.

The Writer said...

I either get a title up front or never at all. It's kind of weird. But I've noticed that if the title doesn't come to me up front, pretty much nothing ever sounds right and I just have to get used to a title that doesn't give me a gag reflex :)

Lisa K. said...

There's some great advice in these comments. Thank you for sharing them. I could stand to learn a thing or two about titles.

Matthew MacNish said...

What a wealth of great ideas! Thanks for sharing Bethany. Personally I'm terrible at titles but some of these ideas would help I bet.

Jackee said...

This is all great advice. Thanks for summing it up for us, Bethany!

Good luck with yours!

Unknown said...

I was just thinking about this! That's kinda' funny.

Um... Most of the time I can come up with pretty good titles, but I have to agree that sometimes Nothing Sounds Right and then it's just awful.

But at least we're all in this torture together, right? ;)

Nishant said...

These were great to read!
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