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Friday, November 01, 2013

What’s in a name? Naming your book and characters is like naming your child (PART 2)

Last Monday I talked about character names and some things to look out for when choosing a name for the new person in your life.

Today I want to talk about naming your book.

PART 2: Book Titles

The title of a book needs to encompass the essence of a story in just a few words, sometimes even one word. This is a really hard thing to do. Writing a synopsis is hard enough, so how do you sum up an entire story with one or two words? I don’t have an easy answer, but I have some ideas that might help.

Ask yourself what the underlying theme of your story is. Is there a moral to the story? Is there something the character does, or a huge event within the story, that would work as a title? What about the character’s name? Some really great books are named after their character(s). Carrie by Stephen King and Eragon by Christopher Paolini spring to mind. Oh! And how could I forget Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

Sometimes a story will be drafted and still not have a title by the end, and sometimes the title will be the first thing that comes to you. In the case of Fall For Me it went through a few different titles before I made a final decision. Subsequently, the sequel will be called Fight For Me even though I haven’t finished writing it yet. And Immagica was always going to be Immagica, because I knew I wanted to write a story that combined imagination and magic.

Here are some more things to consider when choosing a title for your book:
  • If you think you have a title that will work for you, search for it and see how many other books have gotten there first. This doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but it’s a good idea to be aware of it.
  • Avoid really long words, and really long titles. Short words work best.
  • Make it memorable and interesting. You don’t want people forgetting the title of your book two seconds after you told them. One great example of this (which breaks my short title rule) is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Who could forget that!
  • Don’t make any words in your title hard to pronounce. I’m not sure about other people, but if I can’t say the title, I’m not going to want to read the book. And chances are if I can’t say it, I might also miss its meaning.
  • If you’re writing a series, think ahead. Do the titles work together, or complement each other?
  • Think about how the letters of the word(s) will look. Your designer will thank you for it. Lots of ascenders and descenders (the bits that go above and below the word’s base line) will make the title look messy.
Personally, I love naming my characters and my books. I have a folder full of ideas that have started from a name or a title. Now, I just need to find the time to write them all!

K x

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