Once you write something—be it a novel, a poem, a blog post, whatever it may be—the hardest part is over, right? Well, sort of right. Until, of course, you have to find a title for it. Creating a title that accurately sums up the theme and mood of something that you’ve worked so long and hard on seems like a huge undertaking. Should you be witty and try to find an ingenious pun? Or do a bit of soul searching in order to come up with something profound. And how on earth do you select a name for your novel that will stand the test of time? We have a couple of little tips that you might want to take into account when you’re looking to christen your writing which might make the process a little easier.
1. Does your title reflect the content?
If your title is funny, readers will expect the book to be funny. Imagine the reader’s surprise when a book with a funny title is incredibly depressing. The title is the reader’s first clue as to what reading your piece will be like. Beyond the tone of the piece, the title can also reflect major themes, plot points, or settings. The Great Gatsby’s title lets the reader know that Gatsby and his grandeur (real or perceived) will be the focus of the book.
2. Is it too similar to another title?
Allusion is great; it makes readers feel like they’re in on your wordplay. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? creates irony by evoking a children’s story. But choosing a title that’s too similar to—or exactly the same as—the title of a more famous work will only confuse readers who may be looking for your book. Doing an Internet search for The Metamorphosis will always yield pages and pages of Kafka links, even if someone is looking for your piece.
3. Is it specific enough?
Sometimes the two-word title is all you need. The title of The Tempest evokes all sorts of emotions and clues the reader in to what will happen in the play because “tempest” is a particularly interesting word. But a title like The Book may not be interesting or emotive enough to draw a reader to your piece in a sea of more evocative titles.
4. Is it WAY too long?
That being said, your title can include too much detail. There’s been a real ardent trend in publishing to option books that have ludicrously long titles. The Curious Activities of the Cat with the Fifth Paw in the Nighttime on a Tractor in Slovakia. And so on. Those kinds of heavily contrived titles are probably starting to wear thin now. A three sentence-long title may give the reader clues as to tone, theme, setting, character, and plot—all at the same time. But it will also be nearly impossible for the reader to remember. You want readers to remember your title, not get lost in it, so they can find your piece and recommend it to others.
You’ve spent time and energy crafting a piece of writing, so don’t let it down by giving it an unfit title. You want to draw readers in so they can experience just how great your writing is.
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