What is in a title? Well, a lot actually. A title can either entice or turn off potential readers, and really the publishing industry’s gatekeepers, too, if you take the traditional route. There are clever titles, cryptic titles and everything in between (just check out Goodreads’ list of the best book titles to get an idea). Some titles come easy, some not so much, for a writer. Sometimes they are changed or revised. For instance, “The Great Gatsby” alone could have been called “Trimalchio in West Egg,” “Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires,” “On the Road to West Egg,” “Under the Red, White, and Blue,” “Gold-Hatted Gatsby,” and finally “The High-Bouncing Lover.” Mentalfloss.com has provided an list of other classic books that could have made it bookshelves with different titles as well.
I have often found, just like the greats featured in the article, titles can be fickle or given to change. And as can be seen in the case with those greats, sometimes change is for the best.n After all, one title might not have the ring of another, which is why it might not be a bad idea to give any title a good test run. Say a title out loud, run it by good friends or significant others, etc. If it doesn’t work, they might even be able to play better alternatives or at least point you in the right direction–after all, a few words might trigger something in your mind.
Sometimes I struggle with titles myself. A few writing projects have had titles that just fall into place while others start with one titles and over the course of the project turn into something different–sometimes the end product bears no resemblances with the original. Currently, I find myself going through a bit of a pickle with a novel; it just doesn’t have a title screaming to be use, but perhaps the story just needs to be more completed. At least until then I have a working title: “Heritage Lost.” It is definitely not the one and will not survive to the querying stage, but it is an improvement of scifi novel.
Are titles a challenge for anyone out there as well? What are some of the methods you have used while trying to solidify a title for your works?