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piscesgirl80
12-21-2006, 12:42 AM
Just wanted to start a thread on titles in general. :) Ones you love or loathe, regardless of how you feel about the rest of the work, whether it's easy or hard for you to title your work, etc.

greglondon
12-21-2006, 01:26 AM
good: The Old Man and the Sea

has a nice ring to it, rolls off the tongue.

engmajor2005
12-21-2006, 01:28 AM
Never Lick A Moving Blender is by the far the most "what the...?" title I've ever seen on a book. The Color of Her Panties by Piers Anthony is a close second.

I'm flexible when it comes to titles. Sometimes a work starts out with a title, other times it has a working title, sometimes it just has a WIP codename. The final title is usually a reference to a line in the work or its theme. For fantasy works, the title can also refer to the central artifact (Sword of Eternal Justice, off the top of my head for example).

I avoid giving character names as my title, having only done so once. If the main character has an official title (Lord the Tenth Realm, just off the top of my head), that might end up being the work's title.

I avoid using character's names because, quite frankly unless it's a video game or a comic book, I really can't stand those titles myself. Often my favorite characters are a supporting character, and titling a work after the MC forces the focus on them.

MidnightMuse
12-21-2006, 01:35 AM
Two of my favorites:

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams
and
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt.

engmajor2005
12-21-2006, 01:38 AM
Oh yeah, forgot...

The Best Titles Ever:

The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien--tells you what it's about, is named after a character (if indirectly) but doesn't force you to focus on the character, and fits the story (big and epic) quite well.

American Gods by Gaiman--"just sounds cool," is also big and epic sounding, and is central to the story (doesn't force your attention to any one thing)

Anything by Poe--Poe was a title master. 'Nuff said. Even "The Raven" is one of those character-titles that throw the reader for a loop (AHA! The title character ISN'T the MC...or is he?).

Foiled by Blue October--Not only a great album, but a great title. By extension, I can't stand albums that are "self-titled" (would anybody read Stephen King by Stephen King, even if it was his auto-bio) or have "title tracks" (I can forgive this if the title track is not the FIRST DAMNED SONG). This album gets across the central theme quite well.

I've learned something today...I could teach a class in the Philosophy of Titles. That's sad.

PeeDee
12-21-2006, 01:50 AM
"American Gods"

"A Canticle For Leibowitz"

Anything by Gene Wolfe. These people know how to title things.

(an amusing story. When Neil Gaiman wrote his publisher about this book about gods and what he was going to write with it, he said And I'm calling it "American Gods" right now, but I'll come up with a better title before it's released, I promise.")

I generally have a title show up either along with the story idea, or else it arrives shortly thereafter. My current big-summer-serial project that I'm working on has no overall title, something that's bothering me off and on. If all else fails, I flip through my iPod and look at good titles of good songs.

greatfish
12-21-2006, 02:43 AM
I love the simplicity of Mark Twain's titles, like "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper", but for my own stories I usually take advantage of the title as an opportunity to point out something about the story that would be awkward to slip into the body of the story. For instance, I once wrote a story that was very slightly based on the story of Orhpeus' journey into the underworld from Greek mythology, and I wanted readers to catch the similarity, but mentioning it within the work would have been unusual, so I made reference to it in my title.

KCH
12-21-2006, 07:40 PM
Aesthetics aside, it's also good to look at titles from a purely practical perspective--sales. Ostensibly, the publisher's marketing department has a good handle on that. It's why they'll want to slap a different title on your book. And sometimes they're spot on. But they can be badly off the mark as well.

In the category of Unintended Consequences:

When saying the title of the book, do people ask you to repeat it? Are you forever having to remind even your mother what the title is, exactly? I hated the title the publisher slapped on one of my books, but demurred to their wishes. It wasn't until I was doing radio phoners that I realized the biggest reason I should hate it: it was very hard for the ear to pick up accurately.

Consider the ways in which your title can be bobbled by a clerk keying it in at Barnes and Noble. The computerization of bookselling and the dismal state of spelling skills are a nasty mix. One of my book titles starts with a homophone. Three spelling choices, two of which are wrong. Also bad for radio/tv interviews.

tenpenynail
12-21-2006, 07:53 PM
The Color Purple

Angela's Ashes

The Chosen

truelyana
12-21-2006, 07:54 PM
Hello my name is jerry

aadams73
12-21-2006, 08:19 PM
Never Lick A Moving Blender is by the far the most "what the...?" title I've ever seen on a book.

:roll: If some poor sop ever wrote my life story, that would be the perfect title. I am, after all, the person who got her hair stuck in a fan. And I put my hand on the iron to see if it was hot, after my mother assured me that it was.

I'm partial to "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" and "Restaurant at the End of the Universe."

Del
12-21-2006, 08:30 PM
Beach Blanket Bimbos!! :D

Odd that this thread should pop up now. I was just discussing this in PM. I've decided I hate one of mine even though it passes all of KCH's suggestions.

How much power does a title have? These titles you are mentioning, do you like the title or did you just like the book so much that title association is what you like?

I'm trying to avoid 'THE' in the title. Not that I hate books like that, it is just the confusion of cataloging it. Is The Raven under T or R?

Good thread.

RG570
12-21-2006, 09:15 PM
Thinking of a title is the worst part of the whole process for me. I'm in need of one right now, and I can't think of anything. Sometimes I get scared because people often use a line from their story in some form or another, but I can't seem to find any one line that's clever enough. Maybe my entire story blows!

TrainofThought
12-21-2006, 09:30 PM
Like: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The Imaginary Girlfriend and The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving.

aka eraser
12-21-2006, 11:47 PM
Something Wicked This Way Comes

I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (though I think that might have been a short story)

The Well At The World's End

*cough* What Fish Don't Want You To Know *cough*

tenpenynail
12-22-2006, 03:11 AM
Yeah, I probably DO like some of the titles I mentioned because I liked the book...The Color Purple [yeah] The Chosen [yeah]. But Angela's Ashes I like as a title [and I liked the book]. But the title titillated me. I kept wondering what it meant. I kept waiting to find out. I think I finally did.



Beach Blanket Bimbos!! :D

Odd that this thread should pop up now. I was just discussing this in PM. I've decided I hate one of mine even though it passes all of KCH's suggestions.

How much power does a title have? These titles you are mentioning, do you like the title or did you just like the book so much that title association is what you like?

I'm trying to avoid 'THE' in the title. Not that I hate books like that, it is just the confusion of cataloging it. Is The Raven under T or R?

Good thread.

J.S Greer
12-23-2006, 02:19 AM
What do you guys think about short titles?

Im using the working title "The Blood" For my WIP. Is it too generic or bland?

The title refers to a group of people and the magic that they weild. It's also a subtle reference to the blood that will be spilled, so for me it has a few meanings.

How bad does it suck? LOL

Del
12-23-2006, 02:55 AM
What do you guys think about short titles?

Im using the working title "The Blood" For my WIP. Is it too generic or bland?

The title refers to a group of people and the magic that they weild. It's also a subtle reference to the blood that will be spilled, so for me it has a few meanings.

How bad does it suck? LOL

Suck? Who's to say? A title is supposed to draw attention. I'd say The Blood would do that, though it doesn't give much hint at the interior of the book. As for a working title, no one cares...you're the only one that it affects. And to hold on to a working title until completion I think is normal. Jaws didn't have a name until it was almost too late. I heard they literally rushed the name to the press, title page being the last printed.

With all the blood titles out there I personally will seek other titles (unless I think it is really good ;) ). If your story is about a blood line of conjurers that kill...I can foresee many suitable titles.

J.S Greer
12-23-2006, 03:07 AM
Its not so much a bloodline(family wise), as it is a natural selcetion by nature I suppose. It is an inborn abitlity in some to "Weild the Blood" or to be "Blood Bearers."

"The Blood" refers more so to the power, than the user, though it is the title that they recieve from being able to use the power.

Like you said, I have until my WIP is finished to think it over...

Del
12-23-2006, 03:20 AM
Its not so much a bloodline(family wise), as it is a natural selcetion by nature I suppose. It is an inborn abitlity in some to "Weild the Blood" or to be "Blood Bearers."



I like the last one. :)

tenpenynail
12-23-2006, 03:38 AM
Just speaking for me [I know who else would I speak for???] I like the title "The Blood."

It would definitely catch my attention. But I would want a sub-title to tell me in a 'bite' what it's about. Like you said below, something like this...

The Blood: Inborn abilities of some to be "Blood Bearers."

The Title would grab me. The sub-title would whet my appetite.


What do you guys think about short titles?

Im using the working title "The Blood" For my WIP. Is it too generic or bland?

The title refers to a group of people and the magic that they weild. It's also a subtle reference to the blood that will be spilled, so for me it has a few meanings.

How bad does it suck? LOL

Tiger
12-23-2006, 03:53 AM
"Confessions of a Mask"

Cat Scratch
12-23-2006, 04:09 AM
I suck at titles. Seriously. Suck. Which is fine, because even the ones I find I like end up changing at the hands of editors.

At any rate, titles I hate are ones that try too hard to sound poetic--can't think of examples, but things like "The Wind Cried" or things like that. Or titles that have nothing to do with the book upon reading the book--they just sound nice. Again, no examples because I'm mildly slow today.

Del
12-23-2006, 06:25 AM
The wind cried...

Jeeze, did you ever hear a title and instantly build a story around it? I do that a lot. I think it is why I am disappointed with many stories, 'cause I already wrote it before I read it.

:Wha:

Talia
12-23-2006, 06:59 AM
I think most of the titles that people have mentioned are not particularly memorable. For me, the best titles are memorable, like: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It's memorable and it describes the book. Perfect for non fiction.

The Blood might work for some genres. It has creepy connotations i.e. it sounds like a thriller or a horror.

Bayou Bill
12-23-2006, 07:05 AM
I avoid using character's names because, quite frankly unless it's a video game or a comic book, I really can't stand those titles myself. Often my favorite characters are a supporting character, and titling a work after the MC forces the focus on them.This got me to thinking (no easy task) about titles with a character's name or title. There are several, of course, but the trend seems to be away from using them. Stephen King's Lisey's Story is the only one on the current adult hardcover fiction bestseller list. So Enigma may be onto something.


Lisey’s Story

The Count of Monte Cristo.

Angela’s Ashes

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Tom Sawyer

The Great Gatsby

Confessions of Nat Turner

Moby Dick

Marjorie Morningstar

Mrs. Dalloway

Tom Jones

Oliver Twist

Silas Marner

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

and the Harry Potter series

==

Here are some book titles that appeal to me.

The Naked and The Dead
From Here to Eternity
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Pride and Prejudice
Gone With the Wind
Lord of The Flies
War and Peace
Exodus
1984


Bayou Bill :cool:

PeeDee
12-23-2006, 07:25 AM
"The Wind Cried" is a magnificant title. Is it currently attached to anything? Like Delarege, it's one of those things that sparks in my brain and sends me off. I'm writing a short story around that title now.

CBeasy
12-24-2006, 07:37 AM
I always have a hard time naming my WIPs, especially if its an essay. It always feels narcissistic somehow to name something I've written.

As for my favorites, I would have to say Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Ender's Game.

PeeDee
12-24-2006, 07:40 AM
I always have a hard time naming my WIPs, especially if its an essay. It always feels narcissistic somehow to name something I've written.


That's an interesting choice of words. what do you mean, narcissistic?

CBeasy
12-24-2006, 08:00 AM
It's hard to explain, but I think a title should be what grabs your attention, so it should try to be representative of the best aspects of the work, or give some insight to the story. That being said, I feel like I'm saying "This is the best part of the work" or "This is what you should get out of it" when I name something, and it feels narcissistic on some levels to yell the best aspects of my own story to the reader before the even read my work. Does that make sense?

Chasing the Horizon
12-24-2006, 11:38 AM
Angela's Ashes is certainly one of the best titles I've ever heard. It just sounds really good.
The Bird Cage was a title I really liked (this is not published, nor is it mine)
Tomorrow Never Dies is my all time favorite movie title.
Stephen King always amuses me with his titles like Cell and It. They are so short and simple, though his writing is neither. :)

I love coming up with titles for my work. I wouldn't say its always easy, but I love it when I finally come up with the right one. Of course, if an editor could actually come up with something better, he's welcome to change it.

My main WIP is a trilogy called Chasing The Horizon. The books are Destiny & Desire, Never Let Go, and Eye Of The Hourglass.
I have three other outlines with final titles. Perfect Justice (main title for another trilogy), Under The Midwest Sky, and The Pursuit Of Happiness.

Oh, and I think The Wind Cried is a great title, but it seems PeeDee has beaten me to claiming it. :)

Del
12-24-2006, 07:06 PM
It's hard to explain, but I think a title should be what grabs your attention, so it should try to be representative of the best aspects of the work, or give some insight to the story. That being said, I feel like I'm saying "This is the best part of the work" or "This is what you should get out of it" when I name something, and it feels narcissistic on some levels to yell the best aspects of my own story to the reader before the even read my work. Does that make sense?

I can see this somewhat on non-fiction. You are, after all, presenting your view authoritatively. Relaying 'what you should get out of it' is exactly what you are supposed to do. Narcissism is a bit strong. I don't think it is how you see yourself but as you fear others will see you. You wrote the piece to make a point so make the point.

For fiction I see it more as this is what I mean or this is what you can expect. I have to take my titles from the text. It is just something I expect from myself. The Wind Cried would have to appear in the body of the story. I would (and have considered) stretched the title to When the wind cries. It sounds dramatic and thus the piece would have to be also. The Blood is a bit repulsive and I agree it sounds like horror and so the piece had better be.

I would apply narcissistic when the title doesn't really represent the book. "I just liked the title." What a let down.

Del
12-24-2006, 07:22 PM
Angela's Ashes is certainly one of the best titles I've ever heard. It just sounds really good.
The Bird Cage was a title I really liked (this is not published, nor is it mine)
Tomorrow Never Dies is my all time favorite movie title.
Stephen King always amuses me with his titles like Cell and It. They are so short and simple, though his writing is neither. :)

I love coming up with titles for my work. I wouldn't say its always easy, but I love it when I finally come up with the right one. Of course, if an editor could actually come up with something better, he's welcome to change it.

My main WIP is a trilogy called Chasing The Horizon. The books are Destiny & Desire, Never Let Go, and Eye Of The Hourglass.
I have three other outlines with final titles. Perfect Justice (main title for another trilogy), Under The Midwest Sky, and The Pursuit Of Happiness.

Oh, and I think The Wind Cried is a great title, but it seems PeeDee has beaten me to claiming it. :)

Dean Koontz has great titles (IMO). King sometimes misses with them, leaving me to expect something I'm not going to get. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, it didn't say what the story was about. I liked the title. I liked the story (mostly) but they didn't belong together. Bag of Bones, I didn't like the title (before reading the book) but it was perfect for the story, which I did like. The Colorado Kid... I'm just glad it wasn't expensive.

Angela's Ashes was a compelling title. I WANTED to know the story behind it. I guess that is the whole purpose.

piscesgirl80
12-29-2006, 03:27 AM
Just ran across a title that is a definite turn off for me--a literary magazine called "Fluid Discharge.":eek:

Thump
03-02-2007, 05:14 AM
I'm also awful at coming up with titles. The working title for a novella I'm writing is "The Other Side" which neither describes the book nor is particularly an attention magnet.

*sigh*

I really love the title "Fool's Fate" from a book by Robin Hobb. Other favorites are "All the Weyrs of Pern", "Pride and Prejudice", "The Turn of the Screw", "Les Fleurs du Mal", "Lord of the Rings", "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" and "The Hundred Secret Senses".

Some I hate are mainly those that are single women's names like "Emma" and cheesy Harlequin titles (like anything by Barbara Cartland >.< Ugh!) such as "Love Finds the Way" or "The Ship of Love" X-D I'm sorry, Romance novels for the most part make me gag or laugh in pain >.< Really not my kind of writing :P

Another really bad one IMO is "The Mysteries of Udolpho"

Judg
03-02-2007, 05:58 AM
Hm, let's see.

My Name is Asher Lev
A Fall of Moondust
And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street

I tend to like titles with poetic, classical or Biblical allusions. They seem to come with ready-made depth.

The working title for my WIP is In a Dry and Weary Land. What think you? A dud or a winner? Don't worry, I'm not married to it.

Will Lavender
03-02-2007, 06:46 AM
I took a poetry class in college. The poet was an experimentalist; his book was called Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe.

J.S Greer
03-02-2007, 08:03 AM
I'm stil ldebating the title of my first, but I've basically settled on the title for the third (last) in the series:

"The Chronicles of The Blood
Book Three: The Crimson Gospel"

Crimson means a lot to the story, in a few different ways.

Shadow_Ferret
03-02-2007, 08:23 AM
I suffer from title block. I can neither create anything worthwhile, nor can I remember even one memorable one.

aruna
03-02-2007, 09:08 AM
I love "the God of Small things"

For the first time, I have a title and want to build a nocel around it. I'd love to hear what you think:

"The Day of the Father's Wrath"

Would that title grab you?

PeeDee
03-02-2007, 09:48 AM
"The Wind Cried" is a magnificant title. Is it currently attached to anything? Like Delarege, it's one of those things that sparks in my brain and sends me off. I'm writing a short story around that title now.

For those who are agog to know, that night I went off and wrote a great short story with that title which I later read out loud and posted to the Out Loud Challenge thread. It's currently out to Orson Scott Card's "Intergalactic Medicine Show" thingummy, and once they send it back, it can find a happier home at Weird Magazine.

Now you know.

pconsidine
03-02-2007, 08:13 PM
I think I'm overly enamored of my own titles. When I find a good title, that's usually what keeps me in the story for the long haul. My two current works in progress are In the Shade of the Gallows Tree and The Prodigy and I think a great deal of keeps me working on them is so that I can tell people the names of my FINISHED novels.

Pagey's_Girl
03-02-2007, 09:57 PM
The working title for my WIP is In a Dry and Weary Land. What think you? A dud or a winner? Don't worry, I'm not married to it.

I like it, myself. It's very evocative and rather epic-sounding.

Never Lick A Moving Blender? :ROFL:

Titles I'm not good at. I do have two HP Lovecraft-inspired stories called The Kensington Horror and The Haunter of the Loch. (Yes, it's Loch Ness and no, it is not the Loch Ness Monster.) The latter one lent its title to a book my writers' group self-pubbed as a fund-raiser. The title of one of my current (original!) WIPs is Hallowed Ground, but it can and probably will change...

Kate Thornton
03-02-2007, 10:31 PM
I like to build short stories around fun titles, but I think a publisher would change any book-length work's title.

Womans World once changed the title of one of my short stories from "Terrible Twos" to "Key Witness" - it was a good change.

Esopha
03-03-2007, 02:18 AM
Hmm. I remember several titles:

A Tale of Two Cities
Lord of the Flies
L'oiseau bleu (a poem)
Le Petit Prince

I love The Little Prince's french title because it has character that is absent in the english version.

And I must say, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is a fantastic title.

Lady Esther
03-03-2007, 02:29 AM
If These Walls Could Talk
Sleeping with the Enemy
Anywhere But Here

Absolute Simplicity... Ok that was one of my old titles but I really like it.