Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Makes a Good Book Title?

I'm having a little trouble coming up with a good title for the story I'm working on. I frequently wonder how it is that all the good titles haven't been used up already. Especially one word titles.
I love the title Practical Demonkeeping (Christopher Moore). It perfectly attunes the reader to a paranormal storyline, and not an entirely serious one (understatement). It's concise, kind of cute. This is what I'm reaching for, I'm just not sure how to get there!

What type of titles grab your attention?

And for the writers, how do you choose a title for your work? How do you pull out the right concept to sum up your entire story?


  1. Two good books I read recently - "Room" and "Slammerkin" by Emma Donaghue - both refer to words that have shaping influence on either the story or one of the main characters.

    A lot of good books have titles that are pretty obtuse, though. I don't know what the title "Good Omens" refers to. I think a good story can elevate almost any title . . .

  2. I think Good Omens works; It's general enough, but it also relates to the religious concepts in the book. I think the cover art and accompanying blurbs show that it's comedy.

    Right now I'm reading John Green's "An Abundance of Katherines," which not only is a great title, but it refers directly to the main character who has dated (and dumped by) 19 different girls named Katherine.

  3. Titles usually "come to me." But on a more practical level, at a workshop I went to, the speaker said that the majority of best selling books have titles that are four words or less. In a way, titles are like good first sentences - they have to elicit an emotional responses - not easy to do in four words of less!


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