When we are most alone is when we embrace another’s loneliness.
7 Tips to Land The Perfect Title for Your Novel
Having a good title meant everything in 18th-century England, where the fate of lovers often hinged upon whether or not the man could claim a stately rank like “duke” or “baron.”
For the fiction writer of the 21st century, a good title of a different sort is just as crucial. Unfortunately, too many aspiring writers spend years perfecting their manuscripts, only to tack on uninspired titles as afterthoughts. I encounter this casual approach to titling in my own fiction workshops, where talented students undermine first-rate stories with second-rate labels.
Fortunately, this is one of the easiest pitfalls for the emerging writer to avoid. I urge my students to think of their titles as the first opportunity to stand out in the slush pile. After all, while we are told not to judge a book by its cover, when confronted with thousands of submissions, what editor won’t be drawn to a clever or alluring title? Devoting even a small amount of creative energy to naming your work can vastly improve your odds of publication.
My rule of thumb is that strong titles are distinctive, but not distracting. While Anton Chekhov could afford to tack dull titles (“Home,” “The Student”) onto vivid stories, modern audiences want something more memorable. At the same time, anything as complex as The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds may draw attention to itself at the expense of the story that follows (unless, of course, you’re Paul Zindel).
The trick is to find a happy balance between the all-too-forgettable and the truly over-the-top. You want to choose something that makes your readers think: What a fantastic title! Why didn’t I come up with it?