Titles are tough for me – either they come in a flash of inspiration with the first glimmer of story idea, or I struggle endlessly to come up with just the right words.
The title for my current WiP (Sekrit Middle Grade Fantasy project) was looking like a struggle. My working title, present since the first glimmer, was banal. Like naming a story about a rare pink elephant rescued from the rainforest and brought to the Bronx Zoo, Pink Elephant.
So what makes for a killer title?
Blake Snyder, in Save the Cat (a fantastic title), comes to the rescue:
- A great title must have irony (Illegally Blonde)
- A great title must tell the tale, nail the concept (Hunger Games)
- A great title is not too “on the nose”
- A great title has a touch of brilliance, artful and elegant … and not generic (Ex: For Love or Money)
With Snyder’s guide, it was easy to see that my working title was too “on the nose.” So I cobbled together a myriad of options and could see that the ironic ones were the best. I dug deeper into my story to ferret out more ironic pieces and crafted more titles. Still nothing good.
In the end, I read my log line (a single sentence that describes your story) to Worm Burner, challenged him to come up with a title, and his first choice was better than any of mine. So Sekrit WiP now has a new working title. Since I can’t tell you what it is, I’ll test the title of my paranormal YA novel:
Open Minds: ironic (not obviously, but it is ironic in combination with the log line), tells concept (sort of), not on the nose (yes), not generic (yes, and double meaning). So…okay enough to pass for now.
Of course, a title is easy to change, and an agent or publisher may suggest exactly that, depending on how they market your book. Your novel will succeed based on its story, not the title. But the title can entice agents, editors, and readers to take a closer look, which is never a bad thing.
Once you have your killer title, put it to the test with the Lulu Titlescorer.
The title Hunger Games has a 31.7% chance of being a bestselling title!
Just don’t take it too seriously.