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Inventing A Good Title For A Book
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Inventing A Good Title for A Book

It can be pretty difficult to invent a good title for your completed book, especially if you don't know what you want the title to represent: the face of the book, or what the book means to you or whomever it was written for.

A book title that poses as the "face" of the book is meant for the audience; it's a title that, every time someone says it, people can glean what to expect, or for those who've already read the book, what to remember.

A book title that has meaning to you doesn't have to imply anything about the story at all.

Say you write a story about your family. Something about how mom and dad got together and moved from one state to another, for example, starting a new life wherever they are now. This is probably a very touching story for you, as well as your family, so the title will be something that all of you agree to be a good representation of your trials and tribulations. "Mac and Cheese", perhaps, because that was all your family might have eaten at the most difficult point in your lives. "Auntie's Black Dress". "One Thousand Nights of Oprah".

The audience wouldn't really get it, but so what? The title of this book isn't meant for them to "get". It's meant for you and your folks to laugh and smile at. This is called a stylistic choice of title, because it was made disregarding the rules and conventions of naming a book and yet is fully appreciated by yourself.

If, on the other hand, you can safely say that the story you've written isn't meant for you as much as for an audience, then you'll probably want to go with a non-stylistic title; something that wants to be as unique and descriptive of the book's contents as possible. For the same story above, a title like "The Lewis Family's Travels" would be the non-stylistic choice. This is the title you want your audience to appreciate more than yourself or your relatives.

It's important also that the official title of your story isn't invented until you've inserted the last full-stop. Use what's called a working title; a label for the story in progress. Trying to come up with an official title for an unfinished product is much like brainstorming new story ideas during editing; you're working backward, not forward. Oftentimes you'll find yourself changing the story to try to conform to the title, not the other way around.

The process isn't a difficult one, by any means -- nor should it be -- but choosing between a stylistic and non-stylistic title isn't exactly easy, either. Hopefully this advice does a good job of making it so.

Naming your completed book shouldn't be a chore. This is the final act of creation before you ship it off for reading, and it should be as fun and exciting as putting the ribbon on your next big present for the world.


Street Talk

I was just struggling with my title today and then I stumbled upon your article. Thank you for this information! Sincerely, Denise

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Hi Kevin, Thank you so another rich and informative article.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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