By Devon Rowe | November 20, 2015
Shutter Island. Of Mice and Men. To Kill a Mockingbird. Ender’s Game. None of these novels or their respective titles helped influence me in the slightest when it came to coming up with a name for my own book.
Of course, this an issue all serious novelists face and there are many articles and supposed ways to overcome the anxiety of creating a compelling title for a book. It was my original belief that the title should come first, even before the actual idea for the story.
This approach led to me writing down a bunch of title ideas that had nothing to do with the source matter, and I went to bed early feeling that maybe I wouldn’t be so stupid the following day. This didn’t prove to be true. The day after I chose another route for my creativity that, in all actuality, wasn’t that creative. I asked some of my close friends and family members for their ideas on what I should name my book. Do you know what someone told me? “Call it The Adventures of Electric-Man.”
Seriously. Someone actually said that. Now my book is already one that is a little unconventional, but I had to sit and think: “Would that convey the atmosphere, tone, and theme that my book actually conveyed? Hell no, it wouldn’t.
I grew up reading some of the more popular young-adult novels of the day, right on the cusp of the explosion of young-adult movie adaptions. It gave me and millions of others something to look forward to every year or so as far as movies goes. I wanted my book to follow in their footsteps (hoping, obviously, that movie adaptions of my story would follow). I want to capture that feeling for another generation of readers, just as Hunger Games has recently done; I want the tradition to continue.
So I left Electric-Man alone and came to realize that it would be best if I wrote my story first, and then decided afterwards on a title that best encompassed my book, hence The Abnormals was born. It was the only title-naming option that made sense. It’s the same tactic I used when naming the songs that I write, and I’d advise it to anyone who is having trouble finding a title for their works of art.
3 thoughts on “Things I Learned From Writing a Book: Picking a Title”
Totally agree with you. I don’t believe you can truly name a piece of work until you’ve finished it. It will tell you what it needs to be called.
Yeah and I noticed a pattern when trying to name it too early: the name would sound great at first, then corny and uncomfortable later. It was only after I completely finished that I found a title that was timeless!
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Just a thought – Maybe the best option would be to pick an intentionally corny name as a working title, get that out of the way right from the get go. Hence, The Adventures of Reefe is my working title for my novel. There is no way on this green earth I will actually call it that!