Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tips for Terrific Titles #2

Tip #3 for crafting strong titles? As USA puts it, Characters welcome! Ever and always, Keep Your Characters in Mind. Sometimes the best title for a book focuses on the character. But not just on the name, though that can work well. You can also base a title on your character's:
  • Personality
  • Personal struggle
  • Conflict with other characters
  • Lesson learned
  • Nickname
  • Nationality
  • Flaw
  • Physical characteristics
  • Occupation or calling
...and so on. Look at all the facets of your character to see if there's something that would lend itself well to an eye- and imagination-grabbing title. Also, remember that these kinds of titles can often lead to wonderful designs.

Also, remember that your location can be considered a character as well. Certain regions, states, or countries tend to have personalities, so to speak. Build on that for a title that creates the image of your story before the reader has even hit page one.

Some examples of character-based titles:

Magdalene (interesting that they chose Magdalene rather than Mary Magdalene. Used the far more negative/emotional portion of the name for the title)
Rachel's Secret
Here Lies Arthur
Ruby's Slippers
(outstanding cover art enhances the name and tongue-in-cheek connection to Wizard of Oz. See below!)

Physical Characteristic
The Eye of Jade (cover design played off this title beautifully. See below.)
The Face
The Bluest Eye

Character's struggle or "state"
A Bride in the Bargain
Daughter of Liberty

Snow Angel

The Duchess & the Dragon (gives you a strong sense of the heroine and hero, right up front)
Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes (this title uses location as well)
That Certain Spark (the cover art is what makes this title so effective! See cover below.)

Location as a character
The Shack
What the Bayou Saw
Savannah from Savannah (wonderful mix of name and location)
Texas Angel

Guardian of the Flame
The Alchemist
The Night Watchman

Any others you can think of to illustrate this tip?



Teri Dawn Smith said...

Rachel Hauck's Love Starts With Elle uses the character's name and a play on words.

Susan May Warren's Noble Family series uses the character's first name with a verb suggesting a conflict: Reclaiming Nick, Taming Rafe, Finding Stephanie.

Dee Henderson's O'Malley series uses the character's occupation: The Negotiator, The Rescuer, etc.

A thought-provoking topic if we want to get talented enough to pick a title the publisher will like!

Anonymous said...

well, with concern for shameless self promotion, there is my debut novel, the prayers of agnes sparrow releasing sept. 1. and i'm thrilled to say it was the title i came up and pib. loved. but sometimes the story just simply gives you the title. and that's ablessing

Nicole said...

Another "shameful" plug: The Famous One alludes to the unknown young man who becomes a famous actor eventually figuring out who the real famous One is.

Nicole said...

Tim Downs' First the Dead and the Less than Dead, forensic implications. Robert Liparulo's Germ, Ted Dekker's Adam, Susan Meissner's The Shape of Mercy, and Tom Morissey's In High Places.