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Writing Advice & Discussion > I hate titles! How do?

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments I'm getting ready to ask for beta readers for my young adult, magical realism novel. I have a working title but after looking around at similar books and reviews of those books, (complaints about the book not being what they expected based on the title) I think the title will be misleading. Even though it's accurate.

How do you go about picking a title? Do you take into account genre? What influences your decision?

Thanks :)


message 2: by Rod (new)

Rod Baker | 106 comments um, I love titles and chapter headings! One of my few strengths!

I just try something catchy, short, and simple which reflects the book and snags people as they walk by. Send me some samples and I'll give you feed back. I'm currently writing a road trip memoir and took a sentence from a conversation "Um, where is Belize?"


message 3: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments I think of book titles as the same as the melody or main hook of a pop song. It needs to be short and catchy like mentioned above, but definitely indicate something about the theme or content of the story.

Here's a little trick I came up with. During my early years as a writer, I would usually come up with the title of my book while writing it. Nowadays, I come up with the book title months, if not years, before I even write the first word of the book.

It's a very similar approach to authors who purchase pre-made cover art and then write a story to fit the cover. I like this technique of coming up with a title first because it's a quick way to know what your story will be about. Now all I have to do is to go write a story that relates to the title rather than fuss over what the book should be called when I'm done. Of course, I don't pretend this will work for every writer out there. But it is a very effective approach to the whole book naming process.


message 4: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Interesting thoughts:) thanks!

I'm always nervous about sharing bits about my stories before they are done enough because sharing too much or the wrong bit can spoil the writing process for me xD

But I'm going to try...

Herbert Francis Roy is only weeks away from turning eighteen and when he does, he'll run as fast as he can away from his dull life in the arctic north, but first he'll take a chance, on the border of dragon territory, to catch a glimpse of a forgotten world. When one visit turns into routine and everyday life catches up to him, Herbert will have to make a choice and live with the consequences.

I don't know if that's any good, I just threw it together. It's hard not to spoil and still get the point across xD

The working title is
From Stars Come Dragons

I worry people will be upset because they may think they're getting a book about dragons and thus epic battles, but this is very much contemporary magical realism.

I came up with an alternate title today
The Stories These Stars Could Tell

Both fit the book really well, but I wonder about readers expectations based on title.

Again thanks for your thoughts:)


message 5: by Vance (new)

Vance Huxley | 29 comments I find it depends on the book. I often try and reject several titles on the way through, then since I usually write series, a series title.
A recent one had no title or series title when I'd finished, so the first book and the series will be the name of a very important character, Ferryl Shayde.
I called another The Forest and the Farm because it was about a Forest and a Farm, simple as that.
I've never managed to write to a title. I rarely have a clear idea where the first book will go, just a vague outline, so that wouldn't work for me. My publisher has chosen the series name for one set.

Titles may be the same as writing techniques, different strokes for different folks.
The blurb will tell people what the story is about, not the title. Some successful authors use very obscure titles.
Just an opinion. :-)
Vance


message 6: by Entrada (new)

Entrada Book Review | 213 comments I like your original title much better "From Stars Come Dragons" - Personally, I think that the cover art should sell the book more than the title. Readers will know from your blurb and your reviews what type of book you have.

-Rachel


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments I tend to overthink the little things. xD It's nice to hear how others handle their process. Gives me something to think about and lowers my stress levels :)

Thanks!


message 8: by A.C. (new)

A.C. Melody (acmelody) | 8 comments Chirpyreading wrote: "I'm getting ready to ask for beta readers for my young adult, magical realism novel. I have a working title but after looking around at similar books and reviews of those books, (complaints about t..."

You're definitely not alone. Many writers I know struggle with naming their books. Most of my WIPs sit on my computer under the name of my main character until I can think of a title, ha!

To answer your questions a little out of order: Yes, genre does influence how I name my books. I write different genres, so I researched each one to see what the most common practice was for them.

Here are the three main ways I've ended up naming my books:

1) After a powerful and identifying characteristic. (i.e. "Hearthstone Alpha" - because he's all about hearth & home and he's an Alpha wolf shifter.) That doesn't even begin to explain what the book is about, but it doesn't need to. It just has to be enough for a reader to pick it up and read the blurb, which is where they'll get a more in-depth description.

2) A play on words or a single word that depicts an element of the story &/or character trait. (i.e. "Scavenger" - because there's a scavenger hunt in the book and a less than stellar antagonist who behaves much like a scavenger would.)

3) After a place/location that plays a significant role in the story. (i.e. "The Zen Lounge" - now, this one might be considered misleading, since there's nothing calm or zen-like about the plot, but it's just another idea for you to consider.)

Another option is that there are free Title Generators online that might be able to help. I haven't tried any myself in order to recommend a specific one, but it might be worth a shot. In fact, I think they have a generator for just about everything when it comes to writing.

Good luck, I hope you share your final choice with us!

Best Regards,
A.C.


Roughseasinthemed | 263 comments I like From Stars Come Dragons too. :)


message 10: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Frediani Entrada wrote: "I like your original title much better "From Stars Come Dragons" - Personally, I think that the cover art should sell the book more than the title. Readers will know from your blurb and your review..."

I have to agree with this. When I browse the shelves the cover art will catch my eye first, followed by the title, then the back blurb. The exception is when I'm looking for a particular author.


message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Sandaidh wrote: "Entrada wrote: "I like your original title much better "From Stars Come Dragons" - Personally, I think that the cover art should sell the book more than the title. Readers will know from your blurb..."

Seems to be the consensus! :) I think I'm going to stick with the working title... For now at least :)

Roughseasinthemed wrote: "I like From Stars Come Dragons too. :)"

Awesome! Thanks!

Thanks you everyone for your help! This has really given me a boost of confidence and great ideas for how to handle titles when I'm stressing out about them xD


message 12: by Rosie (new)

Rosie (RoseandBurn) | 6 comments If I'm stuck I look through a chapter or two I particularly felt I wrote well because there is often a correlation between that feeling and at least one short line or phrase that fits dynamically. Originally my first story was going to be titled Newly Bound, but I switched to the name to something more clever all because I randomly thought up that phrase.


Scorpio-of-Autumn | 35 comments I LOVE that working title! :D I say keep it! That would look lovely on some kick-ass cover art, am I right?


message 14: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee | 12 comments I agree, I like the title :)

I actually love coming up with titles for books. Sometimes I think of the book title before I even think of the book and completely work backwards!

I definitely think checking out other books in your genre is a good idea to get a feel for what other authors are doing, but I wouldn't put too much stock in what people say about 'misleading' titles. Take Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars for example - I thought this was going to be a space opera based on its title. It wasn't, but once you read it you learn that the title is actually relevant to the story. And it wasn't the title that made me dislike this book, it was the fact it was so, so boring! (Hardly surprising, but the original Persuasion was a million times better)


message 15: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) | 140 comments How about Dragon from the Stars, unless there is one particular Dragon? In that case, maybe, The Dragon From the Stars. A Google search shows The Dragon and the Stars. Be sure to do a search for whatever title you pick. You want your title to be the first listed or at least close to the top of the first page.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

From Stars Come Dragons gets my vote!


message 17: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Thanks everyone!
It's great getting all your awesome thoughts and advice!

I came up with the original title after writing one scene and it definitely fits the book. My biggest concern was how it would affect the readers first impressions and then how they react to the book, after reading it, based on the title. I've gotten feedback from 2 beta readers now and neither of them had a problem with this. Yay! So I think I'll keep it :)

I have a post in the author seeking free beta readers discussion if any of you are interested. Just FYI
Post title: YA contemporary magical realism/dragons
Or something like that:P

And again, thanks sooo much <3
Ann


message 18: by Bob (new)

Bob Rich | 38 comments As it happens, I am part of a blog round and the October topic was titles. You can access my contribution, and that of 11 other experienced writers, at http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
:)
Bob


message 19: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Bob wrote: "As it happens, I am part of a blog round and the October topic was titles. You can access my contribution, and that of 11 other experienced writers, at http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
:)
Bob"


Very interesting Bob. Thanks!


message 20: by Bob (new)

Bob Rich | 38 comments My pleasure. We but live to serve.
:)
Have you entered my current Goodreads giveaway?
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh...

Also, I am looking for advance reviews of my next novel, and am offering free copies for the purpose:
http://bobswriting.com/hitandrun.html


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