Now that I have your attention, let’s discuss titles:
People these days, even those who love to read, don’t want to spend a lot of time seeking something to peruse. Besides a good book cover, one way to grab someone’s interest is to have a catchy title. There are several elements to consider.
It needs to give an idea of what the story is about, but you don’t want to give too much away. When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings as a single volume, the publisher decided to make it into three books. Tolkien was not enamored with the title The Return of the King for the third installment because it gave away the story’s ending.
So-called spoilers might not be so bad, however, in a situation like a historical novel where most people will know what happened, but the journey is the heart of the story. If you title something Lee Surrenders, for instance, we might explore the angst felt by Robert E. Lee at the close of the Civil War.
Or maybe it’s actually a historical romance about a young woman named Lee who must deal with the ramifications when she decides to, well, yield to the guy who’s pursuing her.
Sometimes titles are no more than the name of the main character. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of those: Elmer Gant, Robinson Crusoe and Jane Eyre have developed reputations that keep the likes of literature students reading them, but the mere title wouldn’t have drawn me in. Now if the name itself is colorful, like Odd Thomas, that seems like more of a grabber.
Or you could use a combination of provocative and euphemistic by utilizing a substitute name for your plot device. If I see a title like Mary Jane, I might double check to confirm my suspicion that the story is actually about weed.
If you strive for a catchy title, remember to keep some truth in the advertising. While I preferred my more alliterative designation over Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll for this post, I also admit my final example doesn’t involve rock music.
Hubby and I once attended a show when, while the banjo and guitar players tuned their instruments, the other two band members engaged in dialogue to pass the time. The lead singer announced the next song they would perform would be an instrumental, something very old that also originated in Tokyo.
“What one is that?” the straight man inquired.
“They’re playing the intro to it now.” He nodded toward the other musicians. “It’s called Tu Ning.”
As I beat a hasty retreat, don’t allow that last illustration to spoil your creativity with titles!