Ah, my old archenemy… Titles

There are times when I think I’m pretty awesome. I can get an idea for a short story or a novel and belt out the crux of the story within a week. I love turning a phrase, putting readers through twists and turns and making tears soak the page (sometimes they’re just my own). Why, oh why then do I have such trouble with choosing a title?

When your arch nemesis walks into the room - Imgur.gif

If I’m capable of writing a novel length story, fit a plot together and usually have good feedback from my beta readers, why can’t I make a decision on a few words? Or sometimes even one word? I have a notebook full of titles, okay it’s more of a note page on my iPhone, but you know what I mean. I create a new sheet for every story and go through some really good titles and some absolute shockers before deciding on the title. Sometimes I can take an idea from the story. Like The Horlock’s Magnificent Gypsy Circus is about teenagers in the circus.

A short story I wrote recently called Halfway Humans was about the forgotten of our society, those that live on the fringes. This title was taken from my manuscript. Easy right. So when it came to choosing a title for the first book in my romance trilogy, I have pages of titles but I hated every bloody one. The one I ended up choosing is Stand by You and I don’t even know if I’m over the moon about that one. It still sounds too corny, to sickly sweet but it’s a romance novel. I can hardly have the Daffodils of Doom as a title.

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Then there’s the prospect of if this book gets published, the editor will probably make suggestions on the title, or the publisher might hate it and want me to change it, or they simply could have another book with a similar title. That would be a slam my head against the wall moment, because it took me a month to just come up with three little infuriating words that may or may not ever appear on the cover of my book.

I’m not the only one with this problem if the amount of random book title generators hanging around the internet is any sign that this is a shared problem.

I wonder if I should give my beta readers the freedom to make suggestions, because they are removed from the writing process. They don’t know how many late nights, or early mornings, or paper cuts and spilt coffee have gone into the writing of that manuscript, so they might be a little more subjective then me. Also their suggestions can’t be any worse than mine. I’m not kidding, that same book could have been called Catch Me. I even cringed when I typed that.

So my good friends! Tips, tricks and title hacks can be thrown this way! Pretty please!

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34 thoughts on “Ah, my old archenemy… Titles

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  4. I think it’s because there’s so much pressure on a title, it has to be gripping, it has to be coherent, it has to summarize the ENTIRE story in just a few words without giving anything away. All that pressure is enough to make any writer hyperventilate. Asking for suggestions from others, especially beta readers who are removed from the writing process, is a good idea in my opinion 🙂

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  5. Yeah. Technically speaking, Stand By You isn’t a bad title. It’s short and to the point and it gives you an idea of what the story is about.

    All the same, you should ask your beta readers what they think. 🙂

    On a side note, I know the frustrations of titles. With my Ambrose and Elsie stories, I like to give each part their own title. Some of the titles almost wrote themselves. Others took a little more brain work. 😆

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  7. You’re not alone. TI have a mixed bag when it comes to titles. Sometimes I will think of a neat title that leads the whole piece, others it’ll be the last thing that comes to me. I agree with Anita, look for something stronger. Although a totally different genre, Phillip K Dick came up with some cool titles: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, etc.

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  8. Titles are the worst! When I named my novella, Seven Hours, I thought that I was stupid. But, one of my friends said that just the title got her interested in reading the synopsis.

    http://www.slashfilm.com/pixars-rejected-toy-story-titles-revealed/ Please, visit the link! You’re totally not the only the only and it made me feel better that Pixar had problems with one of its most popular works and they are professionals!

    Ask your beta readers. Ask your friends. Don’t even tell them what the story is about, just throw titles at them (at the friends) and see their reactions. You may need to bribe them with coffee, but it will help.

    Also, when you do find a name that you like, check it on Amazon. Maybe someone else already has that title and or similar titles. That’s what I did for Deity’s Soulmate. I went through Amazon like a crazy person seeing what book titles are similar to mine.

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  9. I titled my book Hawksblood: Don’t Look for Me Under Orange Skies. Then I wrote it, well half of it I hope you don’t keep Stand by Me, it doesn’t seem worthy and a lot of suggestions are better than a brick wall often.
    Just with you mentioning it is a romance trilogy the pilot light goes on and I can’t escape stuff like, Solidarity’s Petals or ‘….that binds, things soft and squishy and of nature. Unscattered Something’s…good luck! lol

    Liked by 2 people

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