How Do You Go About Choosing a Title For Your Book?

The process of creating and selecting the name for a book is sometimes, for myself, often fraught with indecision, and vacillating between certain prospective titles. It is not an easy decision many times, as I am trying to best reflect the content within the book to make it easier for the reader to understand at a glance what the book is about, but, I believe this route is not always the best. Sometimes, certain titles may sound either flat, or very brief, and it is necessary to ‘jazz up’ a title, as the saying goes. I will use as an example one of my own works, THE ADVENTURES OF MRS BROWNING, to discuss these points.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING A TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

The original working title for the book was just MRS BROWNING on its own, but this did not feel quite right to me, and a little too abbreviated. I added ‘THE ADVENTURES OF’ to ‘MRS BROWNING’ as it seemed to more fully reflect the book’s content and theme, but, in an allegorical manner, which I believe that readers will pick up on after reading the book. I also considered including New York City, the story’s locale, in the title, but, again, it did not sound quite correct.

THE ADVENTURES OF MRS BROWNING IN NEW YORK CITY, and, MRS BROWNING IN NEW YORK, as further examples, also did not ring true for me as possible titles. What is right for one author is not always right for another, though, and we all have different perceptions of events, and ways of doing things. It is at this point that we shall we return to our original question for this particular blog post – how do you go about choosing a title for your book?

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3 thoughts on “How Do You Go About Choosing a Title For Your Book?

  1. Marcia, you’ve introduced another interesting subject, and one any author likely gives at least some thought to, although not always entirely consciously. I usually come upon a suitable title during the writing of a story, sometimes lifting it from a descriptive series of words from within the story itself. Charles Frazier used this technique to good effect in titling the chapters to his novel, Cold Mountain, (althought that is somewhat a different application than what is under consideration here.) I did something of the same with my three-story collection about hunting, which I had originally titled simply: Three Stories. But after further reflection, I came to the conclusion that title was neither descriptive nor enticing enough, and retitled the book with a segment taken from the last line of the last story, rechristening the collection: The Deep and Dark Woods Behind Us.

    I think your intuition is correct concerning the titling of your own book, wanting to give the prospective reader something of an enticement (by adding the promise of Adventure) while keeping the heading relatively short. I dislike overlong titles myself, and try to keep mine as short as possible. The best titles are not necessarily self-explanatory, but rather reveal their full meaning with the benefit of the context given by the story itself. Maybe it would be interesting to ask writers and readers what they consider the best titles ever? I’ll start the discussion by suggesting: Gone with the Wind.

    • Thank you very much for your thoughts Bernard, which are very interesting indeed. Yes, I agree, it is a great question to ask what readers believe is the best title ever, and your choice of GONE WITH THE WIND is very evocative. My personal favorite title is I’LL TAKE MANHATTAN, a title which can be interpreted any number of ways. Does anyone else have any titles which they really like?

  2. Pingback: Novel Titles – What’s in a name? « KRISTINA STANLEY

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