A Title by Any Other Name
I’ve enjoyed reading how everyone at SMACK DAB comes up with titles for their books. Some writers I know can’t write the book without coming up with a “working title”. While everyone agrees it’s an important marketing decision, there’s no consensus on the perfect way to create an attention grabbing, memorable, informative title. In searching for some resources to share, in hopes of finding the perfect tactic, I discovered many articles on writing a title, supporting a vast array of advice, from the trite (go with your gut!) to the complex (it’s like writing a poem). Ultimately, I discovered there’s no real code to the process, and what worked for one author, or book, may not work for another author, or book.
Some titles are sentences or snippets of dialogue. (Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng; I Know What You Did Last Summer, by Lois Duncan)
Some titles are poetic. (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman; The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera; One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
Some titles are punny wordplays. (A Rogue Not Taken, by Sarah McLean; The Toyminator, by Robert Rankin; Cockatiels at Seven, by Donna Andrews; No Use Dying Over Spilled Milk, by Tamar Myers).
Some titles are more direct, and informative. (Girls of Gettysburg, by Bobbi Miller; Pandemic, by Yvonne Ventresca).
There’s a lot of titles with Girls in the title, such as my own Girls of Gettysburg. But let’s not forget The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Cat Valente; Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and its sequels The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson; The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank; Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier; Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli; Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson; Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell; Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman; Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski; Kiss The Girls, by James Patterson; All-American Girl, by Meg Cabot; The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow.
There’s a few with Boys in the title, too. Including The Horse and His Boy, by C.S. Lewis; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne; About a Boy, by Nick Hornby; Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman; The Boy Next Door, by Meg Cabot; The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman; The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvator; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba; Roller Boy, by Marcia Strykowski.
Some of my favorite titles include a combination of poetic punny wordplay. Something Wicked This Way Comes, By Ray Bradbury; The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, by Leslea Newman; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith, as well as his Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; and Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, by Dav Pilkey (I mean, really, that one is the bestest title ever!).
What do you think of these titles? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt; The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler; and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst.
What are some of your favorite titles?