Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Of all skills related to word output, I would have to say that titles are my biggest sticking point.  You've probably already noticed, if you've read this blog at all.  My post titles are literal, with no embellishment.  I do the same thing on Livejournal, where I've had an account since 2003.  If I'm creative, I'll title my post with a pun somewhat related to something I'm writing about.

If you've been reading since the beginning, you've also noticed that I changed the title of the blog 8 times before I settled on "Tales of an intrepid pantster."  I'm still not sure I like the title, but it's grown on me.

My fiction is no better.  The trilogy I've been working on since forever has had three titles since I first started poking at it, and I'm not enamored of my current choice: "Awaken."  Sure, it's related to the plot in several ways, but it's not terribly eye-catching.  My writing group likes the idea of keeping all three short and simple.

And I may be agonizing over it for nothing, anyway.  I'm told that a lot of titles change during the editorial process, and I don't know that the book is good enough for publication in the first place.  I mean, I really hope it is, with all the work I've put into it, but I'm not hanging all my hopes on the trilogy becoming a break-out bestseller.

It would be nice if lots of people read my books and loved them and recommended them to all their friends and neighbors.  But I am nothing if not realistic.  Expecting that kind of success would be like getting critiqued at my writing group and hearing only gushing praise.  It's not going to happen.

Is there a writing issue you struggle with?  How do you come up with good titles?  Is there a formula for crafting a good title, or is that best left to a publishing house's marketing department?


  1. I'm not great at thinking up titles. I do have titles for all three books in my trilogy but I'm having a hell of a time thinking of the name for the trilogy itself.

  2. Short and simple titles seem to be the norm these days for trilogies. The shorter (or catchier) a title, the more likely it will be remembered and passed on by word of mouth, which is good. As an avid reader though, I must admit that all the one word titles in trilogies (especially YA) get jumbled in my brain and I get them mixed up, which isn't so good. Then again, I'm not all that great at titling my work either so I try not to be too hard on titles because I doubt I'd be able to do any better!

  3. Titles are hard for me, too. My current WIP about a woman named Rose has gone through 4 titles. Right now I'm calling it "The End of Rose" because if I can't get it finished soon I'm going to kill Rose off and call it the end!

  4. Mandy - Generally, I'd say to define it by the theme that ties all the books together, whether it's a character, a certain mythology, or a quest. A lot of trilogies also just go by a shortening of the first book's title.

    Grace - The biggest thing I worry about is either mixing it up, or giving it the same title as other books. I'd hate for people to confuse mine with something else, because I've really been struggling to avoid common tropes. I want my books to stand out, in a good way.

    Carolyn - Sounds like a plan! :)

    I wonder if titles are harder for pantsters, because the themes in early drafts are hazier.