Friday, November 6, 2015

Your Book Title Doesn't Have To Suck!

Would these titles have caught your imagination? can you name the films?

Let's Face It; Book Titles Don't Need to Suck!

Who gets paid the most money on the planet to write the fewest words?
Copy writers? Good guess, but the people who get paid most… are the people who find the ‘perfect’ name for a movie, when the book’s name just sucks. If movies had been named like their books, we’d have a host of different movies…
Here’s a list of books, that got their name changed for the movie. (Thank Goodness)

  • We can Remember it for You Wholesale... Total Recall
  • Lost Moon... Apollo 13
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?... Blade Runner
  • Heart of Darkness... Apocalypse Now
  • Nothing Lasts Forever... Die Hard
  • Q & A... Slumdog Millionaire
  • Rope Burns... Million Dollar Baby
  • The Short-Timers... Full Metal Jacket

Getting a Great Title for Your Book.

For some writers the title of their book is a foregone conclusion; the words on the book’s spine come from a phrase, passage or action inside the book,.. and there’s little to no point in changing it. I'm quite sure when George Orwell penned Animal Farm, he had the catchy title in his mind from day one.
But if this isn’t the case why rack your brain trying to find the perfect title, when others have already done the research for you.
Whether you know the lyric or not, it tells a story

A Book Title from a Song Lyric

Getting your book title from song title or lyrics is always a good one, although if you make it too obvious, people may think you're shallow or that the book is fan based. Feels Like Teen Spirit, may sound good in your head, but perhaps just Teen Spirit may be better. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? might seem ideal for your romantic drama, but perhaps a simple All the Flowers, or Flowers Gone? will allude the whole quotation to some, while still finding a good title. You can also use a lyric, maybe with a twist... Davy's on the Road Again, is a good book title for a road novel, but how about Maybe's... On the Road Again. A twist to the original title, then made special. How about a line from Billy Joel's hit, Piano Man; Better Than Drinking Alone. Now, isn't that a good book title... doesn't it just draw you in?

Novel Titles from The Bible?

You could get ideas from other books. One superb source is Bible quotations. Here’s a very short list of book titles taken from the bible, and trust me, there are many hundreds… A Time to Kill (Grisham), East of Eden (Steinbeck), Number the Stars (Lowry), The Wings of the Dove (James), Behold the Man (Moorcock). How about taking words from other great works? With so many well-read poets, so many Victorian novelists, how could you not find something that fits your story like a glove? R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island is a treasure trove indeed... how about Take This Black Spot... or Shivering My Timbers

From Shakespeare quotations?

Here’s a short list of both books and films, the titles inspired by the great bard… The Mousetrap (Christie), The Dogs of War, Where Eagles Dare, Journey’s End (Sherriff), Band of Brothers. The book opposite doesn't need the first part of the Shakespeare quotation... Alas Poor Yorick..., it's implied enough already. Sometime subtlety is the best method of making a splash.

How About Stealing From Other writers?

Stealing from other literary sources seems to be quite a pastime with writers, here’s a few that have robbed titles from the lines of their predecessors… All the King’s Men, Cabbages and Kings, From Here to Eternity, The Grapes of Wrath, A Passage to India.

Let's face it, all these above methods are quite acceptable, but there is a wealth of book titles in one easily-accessed basket, in fact it lurks so close to your nose it’s a wonder you haven’t smelled the roses already…

Ten Billion Titles at Your Fingertips

One step down from the Film-naming job...? Television episodes. Yes, I said television episodes. Are you writing a thriller? So go look at a thrilling TV series. Wikipedia is chock full of episode lists for almost every television show ever aired. Whether you write Romance or Urban Adventure, there's a billion title variations just waiting for your novel's spine.
Below, just a few examples…
Blindspot… Episodes include; A Stray Howl, Eight Slim Grins, Bone May Rot, Split the Law, Cede your Soul. Let’s face it, not every title will fit your thriller book…. but these are catchy titles, and at the time of writing this blog, none show up in as a book title.
Sons of Anarchy… Episodes include; Old Bones, The Sleep of Babies, Orca Shrugged, Playing With Monsters.
If you’re writing horror, vampire, werewolf, you could do a lot worse than take a look at the numerous television offerings. Even The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, with most titles a terrible cliché or a song title, is worth a look…
The Vampire Diaries… Episodes include; Fade Into You, Best Served Cold, My Brother’s Keeper.
Supernatural… Episodes include; Dead Man’s Blood, Red Sky at Morning, On the Head of a Pin.

And it’s not just a matter of trawling your own genre… try mixing it up. For instance, no one would think of looking at The Waltons for literary titles, but even there you’d be wrong. Each Waltons episode has a ‘the’ beginning, and although that stymies some titles, it also gives rein to a series…
The Waltons… Episodes include; The Last Mustang, The Hiding Place, The Changeling, The Last Ten days.

The Fun in the Litter; Mix 'n' Match

Then there’s the mix and match… just going from the titles above, we can switch the words around, we can shift one word, either obviously, or with an allusion to what’s between our book covers. Here’s my mix of the above; Red Sky at Mourning, Not My Mother’s Keeper, The Wings of Stars, The Last Changeling, The Stars… Shrugged, A Fade Into War, Wings of the Dive, Howls of Eagles.
You have no limit to the titles you can forge, new, stolen, mixed. But what you can be is original, while still being pithy and catchy.
Best of luck, and I hope I’ve fired your imagination.
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