Titles, what are they and how do authors come up with them? So you’ve written this great book, or just have an idea for one, or maybe you’ve just read your favorite author’s latest, ever wonder where the title comes from? Does it have special meaning, hidden or just for the author? Did the editor/publisher pick it or did the author have to fight over it? On Facebook today an author friend put out a call for title ideas. Nearly finished with her current WIP (work in progress) she was lost for what to call it. After giving a few, not necessarily good ideas, I took a moment to think about it.
For me the title has to say something about what I’m writing, so coming up with an idea for a WIP I don’t fully know is difficult. I know very little about my friend’s story beyond its romance and the main character is a spy, man of mystery. “The Spy Who Loved me” is out obviously. People offered horoscope signs and me, different alcohol, I needed a drink, what can I say. Considering the genre there were any number of sexually hinted at ideas. Come on, romance…sex…it’s logical. I have no idea what it will be, but it struck a cord and I decided to explain my method of finding a title.
It’s pretty simple; generally it’s a line from the book. Not just any line, it has to have meaning, something important, point to a catalyst, pivot, character flaw, that sort of thing. Death of a Political Nobody is a good one to start with. Jon is hoping to be on the presidential running ticket in the fall as vice-president when a body is found in his estranged wife’s hotel room. The man works as a volunteer in one of the fund-raising offices, so in the political arena, he is a nobody; however, his discovering is the pivotal point of the story, where it really takes off. Death of a political assassin opens with the death of the assassin from Death of a Political Nobody. In Not Her Father’s Son, the title offers a huge hint at what makes Alex tick. Figure it out. And the sequel to that novel, The Man in the Picture…Jack is facing his own mortality when he finds the last picture ever taken of his father and sees himself in it. My fantasy novels have less direct meaning with Perfidy being the most obvious, it’s about treachery. The short story BLOOD LUST is about a vampire’s fall from grace when he gives into his base instincts succumbing to … bloodlust. The remainder of my fantasy titles are basic, where they are going or what they want, but no double entendre. Examples would be Homeland, How Far, Fledglings wanted, not creative but as of right now, that’s the titles. Maybe by the time they are published I’ll have found better titles.
What method do you use to find the perfect title?