Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Back on the Blog Chain: Trouble with Titles

Alyson's question for us this round is about more than just trouble with titles, but I couldn't resist the alliteration. After all, alliteration can give titles more of a punch. Here's her complete question:

How do you come up with titles for your work? Does it just come to you or do you spend hours stressing about it? Do you use silly working titles? What have you read recently with a great title? An awful title?

I usually look for titles within my stories, and the titles come to me in their time. I like to find an unusual phrase or something intriguing that's strongly relevant to the plot. I don't use a silly or placeholder title, but sometimes I wind up changing the title if I think it doesn't work or if it's too similar to another title. For example, the original title of Lyon's Legacy was Move Over Ms. L., the title of a John Lennon song, but I decided to change the title when I removed Lennon's lyrics. Twinned Universes was originally called Thine Own Self from Hamlet, then I changed it to Across Two Universes to better fit the genre. Then, when Beth Revis's Across the Universe came out, I changed the title of my book to Twinned Universes. (Ironically, her book is named after a Beatles song, but I guess there's less chance of confusion there.) However, one of my short stories, "The Book of Beasts," turns out to have a common title. I guess I need to search for a title on Amazon or Google to see if it's been used before settling on it. While titles can't be copyrighted, they should be unique enough to be searchable.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier--with series, sometimes it's nice to find a way to tie all the books in a series together. I don't do that with the Catalyst Chronicles series, but all the titles I have so far planned for the Season Avatars series will have the word "Season" in them.

As for good or bad titles, I've recently read stories such as There's Only One Quantum, "Corporate Zombie," and "2BR02B." Those are pretty memorable, but sometimes when I'm reading a book on my Kindle, I can't remember the title of the book because I don't see it. This happened to me with Ripped and Other Adventures. Actually, I did remember the first word in the title was "Ripped," but I had trouble finding the title on Goodreads when I searched for that word.

For more about titles, check out Kate's post and see what Christine will say tomorrow.

6 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ironically I talked about coming up with titles on my blog today as well.
I've been fortunate that all three of mine are unique with zero competition.

aman kesherwani said...
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Sandra Almazan said...

It's great that you were able to make all three titles unique and connected, Alex!

Misha Gericke said...

I struggled to find a publishing title for my series, since I already had titles in mind for the individual books.

In the end, though, I hit on a series title I adored and changed all the book titles to fit the series. I actually love them more now than the previous names. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

I have a terrible time remembering titles. My disability to remember is so bad, it's embarrassing.

It's easier for me to remember the cover art--unless the author decides to change the cover. :P

Sandra Almazan said...

Misha, did you change your titles before or after publication? I don't want to confuse readers by changing the title of published work. OTOH, I don't have a good title yet for the next installment of the Catalyst Chronicles series, but now I have a new approach.

Maria--I've updated one short story cover after publication, but I haven't changed any titles yet. It is useful to track books in Goodreads.

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