Cracking Titles

edited November 2016 in - Writing Tales
We are sometimes advised on how important a good title is and yet it can be one of the most difficult things to decide on when you're writing. I suppose it's stating the obvious that a title should be one that inspires people to pick up the book in the library or bookshop and consider it further. It should reflect the book accurately, rather than just being clever.

"The Hound of The Baskervilles" has been given as one of the best titles and I agree with this but would also include "The Prisoner of Zenda", "The Hunt For Red October", and Great Expectations".

What do other Talkbackers think?

Comments

  • Yes, so important! As my publisher says, 'Title is king!' Get the right title and people will pick up your book or click on it and you're half way there.

    Least favourite title? 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian.' There was a vogue for those sort of titles a while ago and I find them annoying as the title has so little to do with the book.
  • Yep. Sometimes we are stuck with a working title for so long and then one day, like a brilliant flash, a couple (or few) magic words appear before us. I love those moments!

    And what about memorable titles that have been re-worked due to political correctness. Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Niggers' comes to mind. Who would ever dare conjure a title like that now?
  • edited November 2016
    Interesting coincidence to have a thread started about titles. At my writing group on Saturday I read out a scene from the book I'm writing about Fiji and I was asked its title. Which then launched a discussion about my working title and other possibilities. (I still haven't decided, but I have plenty of time - the first draft is still in progress!)

    I have quite a few favourite titles - and they're not all books I've even read. e.g. A Farewell to Arms.

    One of my worst titles: The Map of Love. I would not have given it a second glance, but a friend - who also thought the title was naff - gave it to me.
  • Hah! JUST THIS VERY MINUTE discussing titles for our upcoming book by email. SO hard.
  • Who would ever dare conjure a title like that now?
    Saw an old book at a National Trust place called 'Golliwog goes fox-hunting'. Wouldn't get that now - thank goodness!

    There are titles that sound good but, as said above, have nothing to do with the book. I tend to like ones that are a bit poetic but that give you a clue or a sense of feeling like 'Of Mice and Men' or 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' (which also happen to be my two favourite books!)
  • Snow Falling on Cedars. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. The latter one of the best books I've ever read.
  • Some lovely titles here: Of Mice & Men and Snow Falling on Cedars are favourites of mine too. (Heather - I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany.)
    The Restraint of Beasts is another of my favourite titles.
  • BIRDSONG (Sebastian Faulks) was a brilliant title.

  • Wrote a blog post on this not long ago http://anasalote.blogspot.co.uk/
  • One of my favourites is 'Thud!' (Terry Pratchett).
  • The most unusual?

    'Tis by Frank McCourt
  • Some lovely titles here: Of Mice & Men and Snow Falling on Cedars are favourites of mine too. (Heather - I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany.)
    The Restraint of Beasts is another of my favourite titles.
    Another good Steinbeck title is The Grapes of Wrath.
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs.
    Everything that Rises Must Converge.
  • Sorry but I don't like that second one, Mrs B! It would put me off. Too vague and what an old teacher of mine would call "clever-clever". I would expect the book itself it to be likewise.

    Ana S. makes a good point about same titles in her blog. There may be no copyright on them but it's best to be individual.

    In my post I forgot to mention that an example of a bad title is "The Casual Vacancy". It's flat and the book wouldn't have excited any interest if it hadn't been written by J.K. Rowling.
  • Everything that Rises Must Converge

    I read that and thought - no... no, it mustn't. It might drift off into space and disappear in any direction whatsoever. anyone who has seen a load of balloons let go will know that. Plus, of course, the higher you go, the more rare the air is - molecules becoming more and more distant. That title pisses me off so much I'd never so much as touch the book.
  • edited November 2016

    In my post I forgot to mention that an example of a bad title is "The Casual Vacancy". It's flat and the book wouldn't have excited any interest if it hadn't been written by J.K. Rowling.
    Forgive the interruption, but I think the original hardcover jacket was equally bad! I jumped on the bandwagon and bought it, solely because of JK, but it didn't strike me as particularly enjoyable.

    Speaking of 'strikes'; her Cormoran Strike series (under pseudonym of Robert Galbraith) is very good.

  • Agree. Casual Vacancy was ghastly in every regard. Robert Galbraith is great.
  • Some titles really work, because they are obvious, and you can know what the book is about, before having to read the blurb toooo much - 11.22.63, stephen king, the secret garden, frances hodgson burnett. Some are published, and slow to start/gain attention - The a song of ice and fire series/game of thrones books by george r. r. martin, and some it seems become more popular still once they have been rerealsed under a different name/a movie has been made, such as 'These foolish things' by deborah moggach, now reprinted as the best excotic marigold hotel
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