Tips on Titles

Thanks to everyone who has entered my title contest. You rock! The deadline is Friday at midnight, so if you haven’t entered, look at these title exercises and remember to send me something brilliant.

I suspect these exercises may help the writers like me who can’t seem to nail down a good title. I haven’t tried them yet since I’ve invited YOU to name my book, but let me know if they work.

1. Think of a familiar saying, song, or movie that may fit your book. You can’t copyright a title.

2. Take the well-known title you just wrote and change a word or two to turn it into a pun.

3. Write a title that begins with What, When, Who, or Where.

4. Write a title that is a lie or the opposite of what your book is about. (Not that you’ll use this one, but it might get the wheels in your head turning and eventually you might crank out an ironic or sarcastic title.)

5. Choose a concrete image as the title—preferably an unusual or surprising image.

6. Do the magnetic poetry thing. Write down images, phrases, and themes, and try different combinations until something stands out.

7. Write a title beginning with How or Why.

8. Write a one-word title, using the most obvious word you can think of. Then write a less obvious one-word title. Write an obvious two-word title, then three, then four, then five.

9. Write a title that begins or ends with a verb ending in -ing.

10. Read the whole draft looking for phrases in your book that could be used as titles.

Any other ideas?

I’d like to hear how seriously you writers take your working titles, knowing an editor will most likely change it later. How hard do you work to find a grabbing title when you’re getting ready to submit a manuscript? How much do you think editors are influenced to take a closer look at your manuscript by a working title?



Filed under contest, Writing Tip

3 responses to “Tips on Titles

  1. Titles are very important, and I certainly hope an editor wouldn’t change the title of my books, but they probably would. My titles add a lot of depth and meaning to the book as a whole, which is what any title should do (but most don’t in my opinion), which is why I’m having a really hard time coming up with a title for your book. I haven’t read it, and therefore cannot find that one thing that explains the main point/conflict/meaning of your book. I’m not sure I’ll be able to enter. 😦

    I guess I can submit SOMEthing…

    • Kim Reid

      That’s okay. I’m sure it’s easier for the people who have read it. Just thought I’d see if there was anyone out there who was used to coming up with catchy titles as part of their marketing career or something! I suspect that the marketing teams who meet at publishing houses to have a say in all this haven’t all read the manuscript in question, but maybe I’m wrong…

  2. What a great exercise! Just what I needed. Thanks.