What’s in a Name? By Leeann Betts
You’ve heard the old saying, “a rose by any other name is still a rose”. And I guess when we’re talking flowers, that would be true.
But what about when we’re talking titles? Would you rather read Tote the Weary Load or Gone with the Wind? The first was a working title for Margaret Mitchell.
The truth is, whether we like it or not, a catchy title will make our work stand out from the rest of the pack. Here are some questions to ask in coming up with a good handle for your book:
- What is the book about? The plot, the conclusion, or the setting can make for a good title. For example, War of the Worlds, The Last of the Mohicans.
- Choose a main character, and change how the reader sees him. For example, would you read Holden Caulfield or Catcher in the Rye?
- Change the meaning of a word. For example, a book where the heroine finds herself in the middle of a battlefield could be called Grace in the Midst of War, if the character’s name is Grace. And if it isn’t, you might like the title and so change the character’s name.
- Choose groupings of three: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, for example. A book in my forensic accountant mystery series is titled Broke, Busted, and Disgusted.
- Choose the theme of the book. I wrote a novel about a crooked cop who desperately wants to go straight, and all the while, everybody thinks he’s a good guy: Counterfeit Honor.
- Consider your genre and pump up the title accordingly. The first book in my forensic accountant mystery series was originally titled Just the Fax, Ma’am because some threatening faxes are at the core of the story. However, a beta reader said she wouldn’t pick up the book because there was no connection to a mystery. Now the book is titled No Accounting for Murder.
No matter what title ideas you come up with, pass them by some people you trust, including your beta readers, critique group, and writing groups you may belong to. Sometimes taking a word from one, a word or two from another, and recombining them gives you a whole new idea. Whatever the title is, you want to draw readers in with the title, but the writing will be what keeps them reading.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, recently released. Book 3, Unbalanced, releases January 31st, with plans for Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, due in April, with more planned for later dates. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, and Donna has published a book of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. You can follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com and Donna at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com . All books are available at Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital.