>Adventures in Choosing a Title

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After living with a mediocre working title for my novel-in-progress, I’m hunting for my perfect title. I’ve been listing and brainstorming and trying to think outside of my preconceived notions for the last several days, and yesterday I finally hit on something that’s taking me a step closer to my goal. It’s still not exactly right, but I finally feel like I’m making progress.

I’ve discovered over the years that titles can be bliss or misery. I have on occassion written from a great title, but this has been a rare event. Generally, if the title comes first it never finds a home. Just look through some of my old notebooks, filled with awesome titles that have yet to find a story. I have a stellar title for the next novel I’m working on (as long as it fits after the book is actually written), and in the process of brainstorming for my current novel, I’ve hit on a few gems but they’re irrelevant to what I’m working on.

As we’re all probably aware, titles can make or break a book. Waltz into Barnes & Noble and browse the shelves. What books will you look at? Personally, a catchy title and a snazzy cover will prompt me to snap that baby off the shelf. Even if I end up putting it back because it’s not what I wanted, I still chose that book over the hundreds of other possibilities. A crisp title can say it all – and sell your book.

To get some new ideas, I decided to browse titles at the bookstore yesterday and here are some that stood out to me:

I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
Bulletproof Mascara by Bethany Maines
Ravenor: The Omnibus by Dan Abnett
Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
Anthill by E.O. Wilson
Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Jarrettsville by Cornelia Nixon
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

What are your favorite titles? How do you choose titles for your books/stories/poems?

Photo by Ian Wilson


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