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Monday, January 17, 2011


Last week I hit a major roadblock in my writing. I hemmed and hawed, left the computer, came back, left again. I reached out to friends on twitter, and had a long discussion with Amy, a fellow Taos Toolbox graduate.

The problem? I couldn't come up with a reasonable title for a contest entry.

Headdesk. Repeat.

Oh sure, I could jam some words together, that related to the story. But I knew my title ideas weren't fabulous. This all got me thinking about titles I've liked, and how important titles are for selling a book (or a story). Of course a publisher is going to have final say, which actually excites me. I'm glad someone else will ultimately worry about those details.

In the meanwhile though, I'm stuck wondering how other authors come up with great, and poor, titles. Some favorites?

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

A lot of these are genre, and you can tell. Mistborn? Definitely fantasy. So is Mystic and Rider. I've always loved the title War and Peace, and it suits the content perfectly. Some not so great titles?

  • The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
  • Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin
  • Any Title by ... Me

I'll admit that I had some trouble coming up with titles I didn't like, which is a good thing. But Paksenarrion? Gack. I can barely spell it when I have it open in another tab. And Rite of Passage? Is that really a scifi title? What does that tell us about the book?

I'm still stumped, but I was very happy to brainstorm with Amy last week. Does anyone have any advice for titling stories?

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