Naming Stories

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Give Yourself A Lot of Time and A Lot of Options

Don’t stick to the first title you come up with. Like artists brainstorm with different compositions and color combinations and concepts, you need to think about your title from as many angles as possible and give yourself a lot of options to choose from. I suggest doing several brainstorms, over a long period of time, and then going through and picking your favorites and doing pros and cons, and finally, running it past a group of at least 10 people to see what catches their attention.

Make Your Title Distinct and Memorable

If you come up with a solid base for your title, such as “love and wanting”, go with something a little more unique and memorable to your reader, such as “desire and desperation”, (not that those are good titles, but you see my point). However, don’t go overboard and lose the significance of the title in the flowery language. 

Give Your Title Layers

This is why you probably shouldn’t name your story until it’s completely finished. You want a reader to read your title the first time and feel intrigue, then read it once they’ve finished and feel nostalgia or an “OOOHHH… that’s what that means” feeling.

Make Your Title Match The Overall Tone of Your Story

If your novel is a horror story, make the title give your reader the creeps, or at least unsettle them. If it’s a fantasy, use language you associate with fantasy, such as words that give the reader a mystical, imaginative, adventurous feeling.

Don’t Give Away The Entire Plot

This is kind of difficult to explain, but imagine if J.K. Rowling called Harry Potter, “The Dark Lord’s Downfall”. Like.. what the hell. Now I know exactly what’s going to happen, I’ll predict all the plot twists, and I’ll know how it ends before I even read a word. So yeah, don’t do this.

Your Title Should Put A Taste on The Reader’s Tongue

Use words that are interesting to the senses and trigger associations. I think the bulk of this tip can be ran with for most genres, so just keep this in mind.

Some Helpful Tips

  • Google your title with the word “book” after it, just to see if it’s been used already for a popular novel. It’s not technically against the rules to have a book with the same title, but if your book title shows up with a New York bestseller attached to it that has a whole wikipedia page, maybe rethink it.
  • For my fellow non-fiction writers out there, instead of titling your work by specifying the subject, put an interesting spin on the topic. For instance, Stephen King’s On Writing could have been called “How To Write Like Famous Author Stephen King”, but that would have been.. off-putting. 

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