The Title Struggle


Many writers say not to worry about the title of your WIP because most of the time, the publisher's marketing department changes it from whatever your name was anyway. However, I have also read that agents (can't remember which agent blog this was on) sometimes ask to see pages even if the query was only alright because the title was really great. So, I think it's worth giving more than a passing thought.
Coming up with a title is HARD. How are you supposed to come up with a few words that a) make a reader want to pick up the book b) relate to some important aspect of your book and c) hasn't been used before? It's daunting.
Some writers say that a name pops into their head before they even start the story--that the title itself was part of the inspiration. This was not the case for my first two novels. Shadow Falls was titled The Scholarship until I got through the second draft. I didn't like the working title, but I needed something to call the thing besides "the book". Wanderlust was the same way. I started off calling it Rockstar. However, with my most recent WIP, the title finally came to me first: Exposure Therapy. Now that third one could change since I'm just starting the book, but I kind of like it.
So what can you do to help come up with title possibilities?

Brainstorm a list of words that come to mind about your book. Don't edit yourself, just make the list.
--Some obvious things that could inspire the title
  • Character names (Carrie)
  • Character career
  • Setting (Twilight)
  • Theme (Atonement)
  • Conflict/Turning Point (Marked)
  • Time Period
  • Special object that plays role in the story (The Sword in the Stone)
--There are some titles that aren't so literal and this is a good way to come up with them. For those of you who have read Hush, Hush, you know that those words aren't uttered in the book. So why is it called that? According to the author, it's because the book is about secrets.
Look for inspiration in unexpected places.
--Music: song titles and lyrics have been used for titles (Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True and She's Come Undone; In the Still of the Night has been used multiple times, Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts). However, do note that song lyrics are subject to copyright laws but song titles are not. Either way, this doesn't come into play until you get published.
--Nursery Rhymes: James Patterson has used this as a theme--Along Came a Spider, Jack and Jill

--Cliches & Puns: something to avoid in writing, but if twisted a bit for a title it can work. Tall, Dark, and Dead by Tate Hallaway, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy and Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

--Classic Literature/Shakespeare: The Sound and the Fury, A Rose by Any Other Name
Alright, I hope that gets your brain cranking. In case your wondering about my titles, here's where I got them from:
Shadow Falls is the name of the town in the book, but is also a play on the fact that something dark is trying to consume the character
Wanderlust is the name of the hero's band, but also a play on the fact that he can't settle down. It also plays into the MC because although she has the desire to see the world, something in her past keeps her stuck in one place (emotionally and literally)
Exposure Therapy is from the MC's job as a social worker. She has something to overcome in her past and exposure therapy is a technique used by counselors to work through phobias and such. It's also a play on the fact that the book will be sexy and well, things will be exposed, lol.
So what's the title of your WIP? How'd you come up with it? What are some of your favorite book titles?
Also, don't forget my Amazon gift certificate contest is still open until midnight (central) tonight, so if you missed yesterday's post, check it out to enter.

**Today's Theme Song**
"I'm Like A Lawyer with the Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off"-- Fall Out Boy
FOB are masters at the unconventional yet awesome punny titles
(player in sidebar, take a listen)