Friday, May 24, 2013

Title Poetry and Help Choose a Title, Please!

When I first saw samples of poetry from book titles, I knew I had to try one myself using middle grade books. I'm not sure my result is actually poetry, so I’m calling it a micro-story. If you can’t read all the titles, it goes like this:
Girl Overboard
Into the Blue
Dangerous Waters
Secrets at Sea
The Captive
The Quest of the Warrior Sheep

I admit it won’t win an award, but it was a fun challenge
On a slightly different note, I think every writer struggles with titles. I know one writer who can’t start writing until she comes up with the perfect title. I would never write a word if that were me. It takes me forever to settle on even a few possibilities. I first became aware of the importance of titles when I gave a copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to my then fourteen-year-old niece. She was an avid reader, but she wouldn’t read the book because of the title. Later, when it was assigned reading in school, she ended up loving the book so much, she named one of her cats Scout.
That was a cautionary lesson for me. Especially as a middle-grade writer, I know the title is all part of the package that makes up why a person will even begin to consider reading a book they know nothing about.
Nowadays, part of the consideration of a title is how it will look on the cover in a thumbnail-size view, because of the importance of online book sales. So we’re left with much shorter titles than before. I understand that, as well as how the title works with the cover image, but sometimes it’s hard to think you have come up with the perfect title, only to realize it’s too long from a graphic design point of view.
So here’s something I need an opinion on. I have two different titles for one of my manuscripts and cannot settle on one over the other. I describe the story as an upper middle grade historical that is somewhat Downton Abbyish, with the addition of spies. It’s set during World War I. Which of the two do you like best?
~Dee Garretson



    1. Thanks! I'm leaning toward that one, but I'm never sure if my instincts are right.

  2. I've done this book title poetry thing! Here's the link if you want to check it out:

    Titles are so important to me and it's what I struggle with most. I never choose a book based on its cover; it's always the title that grabs my attention first. Then the back cover summary is ultimately what makes me choose to buy it or not, but the title is thefirst thing I consider. So I stress a lot when it comes to titles! R.L. Stine is another author who comes up with the title first then creates a story for it. I wish I could do that!

    I like both of your titles! Both caught my attention and I'd pick up the book based on either one of those titles. Good luck choosing your title!!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  3. Oh, I love book spine title poetry! And I was with you all the way to...The Quest of the Warrior Sheep??? :-)

    Um...I like Escape the Shadows. Just seems like a Title that would lend itself to cool imagery. (Actually, I love the sound of this book. Downton Abbey meets spies? Brilliant!)

    1. I know The Quest of the Warrior Sheep is a stretch. :) I was trying to find something that would show someone came and rescued the girl overboard, and that's the only book I had that came close.

  4. How about combining the two and going with SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS?

  5. Both are good, but The Finding of Secrets seems more unique.

    I have had titles come to me quickly – my Mayan historical, The Well of Sacrifice, was called that from first draft stage.

    I have struggled a lot – my Egyptian mystery, The Eyes of Pharaoh, was called The Dancer and the Spy in draft form, which I knew wouldn't work. When I finally had to prepare for submission, I brainstormed, listing every word I could think of that had anything to do with the characters, plot, setting, etc. I like the title now, but a lot of people refer to it as "Eyes of the Pharaoh," so I sometimes wonder if people would have a hard time finding it if they are using the wrong name at the bookstore or library. (Though the book does come up right away with that as a Google search.)

    For my ghost hunter series, it was originally called Ghost Trackers, and the first book was The Haunted Hotel. Then I got an urgent message from my agent that a new "ghost trackers" TV show was coming out, so we needed a new series name. And when we finally agreed on Haunted for the series, we needed a new book name to avoid Haunted: The Haunted Hotel. I like Haunted: The Ghost on the Stairs better than the original, but it took some time to get there!

    1. It is really hard to make sure titles aren't too similar to what's already out there. A writer friend said she bought a book recently because she wanted Cloud Atlas, not realizing the book she bought, The Cloud Atlas, is a totally different book.

  6. I think "The Finding of Secrets" is the better choice.

    While "Escape the Shadows" is good title, too, I think the former title will bring in readers who might be fatigued by the darkness attached to "Shadows." I read a fair amount of historical fiction, and I think this sound interesting, not a Downton Abbey view, but I hope there's more to explore beyond "Upstairs, Downstairs" class wars given the spy angle.

    What turns me off are titles that try too hard to be any of the following-

    Funny (Yet comes off offensive)

    Sexy (But instead makes me want to gag striaght away)

    Keep it "Real" (But just comes off exlusinary and mean)

    Hope that helps a little.

    1. Thanks! It does help. I don't want it to sound too dark, because even though it's a war story and there are grim aspects to make it accurate, that's not the focus


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!