Readers Judge a Book By Its Title
Sometimes your title may inspire a whole novel, sometimes you could have polished your story for the final time but still be struggling to find a fitting name. Some people enjoy thinking of the title at the beginning, some writers leave this task till last. Whatever it is, the title of a story plays a crucial part in enticing a reader into reading your book. Readers will judge whether to read your book by its title.
A title has two purposes; to inform and to attract. The title should hint at a particular element of the story, e.g. a character or a theme or a object, and should be interesting enough to make the reader pick the book up e.g. a snappy alliteration or a play on words.
‘Rules’ for Titles
- Titles should not be dull. For example, instead of writing ‘The House’ you may want to write something a little more peculiar and relative to your story such as ‘442 Brick Lane’. The effect of such a specific title makes the reader wander, ‘where is this place?’, ‘what’s so special about it?’, ‘what’s significant about 442?’ Details count.
- A title should be memorable. If you go to a bookstore, have a look at the average number of words per title. You will find they are usually two or three words. Six words titles, for example, are very rare and should only be chosen in necessary cases and may also work well in sci-fi or fantasy series. A title might be an alliteration, a play on words, a catchy phrase so it stays in your readers head. Ensure that not only are they clear and simple, but also easy for your reader to pronounce.
- A title should tell the reader something about the story. If you call a story, ‘13 Glen Avenue’ your reader may assume the book is a horror story, but instead you might have written a romance or a historical novel. Don’t mislead your reader. Let the title express a tone, a theme or a genre.
Ideas for Titles
- a common phrase e.g. Gone for Good
- a play on words or a twist of a common phrase e.g. You Only Live Twice
- a characters name e.g. Rebecca
- a hidden meaning revealed in the story e.g. Catch 22
- a place e.g. Jurassic Park
- a possessive e.g. Charlotte’s Web
- an event or activity e.g. Pleading Guilty
- a line from the story e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird