Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's in a Title?

I spent about three hours today going over titles with my writing partner Lia Davis and I'm worn out. I swear it took more effort to come up with those then write the dang book.
Okay, maybe not, but you get the drift.
Titles are very important for authors, readers, publishers...pretty much everyone in the writing community. They honesty can make or break a book.
Yes, I judge a book by it's title (and it's cover, but that's for another blog post). The title and the cover are the first two things that pull me in or catch my eye. If they're good enough, then I'll read the blurb. Then I'll ask a friend what they thought. I don't usually look at reviews because I don't know if those people have the same taste as me. But I do have a couple book addicts that know my taste that I talk about books with. Tamara Hoffa being one of them. If you ever need a book recommendation, as her!
But back to titles. Sometimes they come out of no where and are perfect. Other times you just want to pull out your eyelashes one by one.
There are a few ways people come up with titles but the way Lia and I do it is this:

  1. First, we think about the hero and heroine
    1. What are their names?
    2. What are their goals?
    3. Do they have certain jobs or positions that could help with the title?
    4. Do they have inner conflict that could lead to a good title?
  2. Then we look at the outer conflict
    1. Is there a big event that could help with the title?
    2. Is there a theme?
  3. Then we look at the concept of the book
    1. What tone are we looking for?
    2. Do we want the title to match the other series in some way?
  4. Then we mix and match
    1. Yes, honestly, sometimes it's me and Lia putting words together until they make sense.
    2. The words have to actually be cohesive
    3. They need to tell a story
    4. They can't spoil a key secret plot point
  5. Then we search Amazon
    1. Is the title already in use? 
    2. If it is, is it in the same genre?
  6. Then we sit back and read it aloud.
    1. Does it make us laugh?
    2. Does it sound like purple prose?
  7. Then, hopefully, that's our title...if we both like it. :-) 

After all of that, you see why sometimes we want to just say "The hell with it!" throw up our hands and call it 50 Shades of Werewolf Twilight.

But we don't.

I mean, we spend so much time being creative in the book, why would we want to blatantly steal another title. But alas, I think that's another blog post in itself, no?


  1. I truly think it takes more effort and creativity to come up with a good title than it does to write a good book. You have thousands of words to tell a story, only a few to grab the readers attention and make them want to READ the story.

    Thanks for the shout out! Love you ladies!

  2. I think titles are critical, critical, critical. Although a pretty/sexy book cover will catch my eye, I've never bought a book because I liked the cover. I HAVE bought books just because the title intrigued me. IMHO, a title needs to do two things: be descriptive of what's in the book and have a hook. In my titles, I try communicate a sense of conflict. I also search Amazon to see what's in use and, because I promote a lot on Twitter, I now take into account the length of the title.

  3. I am enjoying this blog hop and all the contests.