Untitled. Where’s that Title?

Earlier today, I was going through Goodreads and was thinking about how authors come up with titles for their books.  I find it to be one of the most difficult things to do, besides actually finishing the book.

I’ve seen some titles that are rather generic looking, which is unfortunate.  They’re not memorable.  I’ve seen some that make little to no sense to me when I see the book cover.  However, those ones make sense once I read the book.

So, where does the title come from?  When is the book given a title?  To answer the second question, I guess it depends.  I’ve already got a title for my first book, but have no idea what to do about the titles for my trilogy.  My short story that I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo has a provisional title that I may stick with.  As for the first question, let’s look at a few methods I’ve observed.

First is the straightforward title.  This kind describes the book in the simplest terms.  It basically tells us what it is.  For example, The Hobbit tells us it’s about a hobbit.  It’s that easy.

Second, there’s the title that takes an important element of the story, often some important object.  For this example, it could be The Sword of Shannara.

Next, the title could describe some concept that’s mentioned in the book.  It’s something that plays an important part in the story.  An example is Wizard’s First Rule.

And then there’s the title that makes very little sense unless you actually read the book.  Often, the title comes from something that is said.  For example, Angel Fire East.

These are just some types of titles I can think of on short notice.  As for my stories in progress, they’re two different types.  Journey to Ariadne is the first type.  It’s straightforward and it tells you exactly what it is.  The short story I’m working on, Fractured, is the third type.  It’s an important concept that will be revealed in the story.

How do you think of titles?  And do you have any suggestions for other title categories?  Let me know in the comments.

In an odd twist, as I was thinking about what to say for this post, I saw that someone else wrote about the same topic less than 2 hours ago.  So, if you’d like to check out what he says, definitely go see it.  It’s an interesting post to read.

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10 thoughts on “Untitled. Where’s that Title?”

  1. I’m not a fan of “out there” titles. I like creativity, of course, but I also like a title that tells me what I’m in for, you know? I hate when I pick up a book with an adventurous-sounding title and it turns out to be a chick lit romance or something. 😛

    On a personal note, all of my works have been titled to reflect my own tastes. My zombie apocalypse novel is called “Nowhere to Hide” because in the book the characters can’t find anywhere to hide (at least, not for very long). My fantasy adventure novel is called “Parallels” because it involves the main character traveling to a parallel world. And so on, and so on. I do worry that my titles are a little too bland, sometimes, but it is so difficult to come up with a good one, isn’t it?

    1. It’s very difficult. I’ve come up with titles for my future books long ago, and looking back, I found them silly sounding. They’re now completely untitled.

      I also don’t like how some titles completely misrepresent the book’s genre. I have also seen romance novels that sounds more like adventure novels I didn’t read them, though. My mom did 🙂

      1. Well at least someone got some enjoyment out of the book. lol 😀

        I do, honestly, worry a lot about my titles because even when I feel like I’ve chosen a good one I often find myself wondering what other people are going to think of it and whether it will affect sales. There’s so much foolishness to worry about with writing. >.<

  2. I love the more descriptive or slightly obscure ones. Angel Fire East? I’d be trippin’ over myself trying to figure out what that book’s all about. Straightforward titles are okay, but I love a title that’ll grab my eye and make me focus on it.

    (Which seems strange since I went with such a plain title for my novel The Soul hahaha.)

    1. I went through half of Angel Fire East wondering where that title came from, then I read one line where angel fire and east were mentioned. It resulted in one of those, “Aahhhhhhh, I see!” moments.

      Plain titles are fine. Journey to Ariadne is pretty plain and straightforward, but at least it has a unique word in it.

  3. I’ve used all three of these methods for finding titles for my various short stories, as well as a fourth.

    Every once in a while, I dream up a title that I like so much that I have to write a story around it, reversing the process of finding a title to fit a story.

    I can’t be the only writer who does that. I just can’t think of who the others are at the moment…

    1. Oh, I’m sure it happens often. A title that sounds perfect. Now what’s the story to go with the title? I’ve had those moments, though I’ve forgotten them. I have had some recent title ideas for a fantasy series I’ve got in mind (and am writing a short story for). Simple titles that describe the nature of the people they’re about.

      Thanks for reblogging!

  4. Reblogged this on S.A. Barton: Seriously Eclectic and commented:
    (This is the comment I left on the author’s blog.)

    I’ve used all three of these methods for finding titles for my various short stories, as well as a fourth.

    Every once in a while, I dream up a title that I like so much that I have to write a story around it, reversing the process of finding a title to fit a story.

    I can’t be the only writer who does that. I just can’t think of who the others are at the moment…

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