NaNoWriMo 2012: I Hereby Dub Thee…

I’m not usually a very picky person. For example, I will eat almost any food provided it’s not made from guts. However, I’m picky when it comes to book titles. A good book title catches my eye, although I confess that I pay more attention to good covers than I do to good titles. A lame title is usually formulaic, but sometimes there are titles that clearly follow a formula and yet are excellent anyway. Some titles can even combine formulas, as you’ll see when you read through the formulas and think about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, to name just one example.

I’ve been thinking about titles a lot because I’m not sure if I want to keep The Strange Ones as my title. It’s decent, but I don’t want a decent title. I want an awesome title. The only reason I titled my book before I began writing it or even planning most of it is that it’s another thing I’m picky about. I like to have at least working titles for the stuff I write; I’m not sure why. I guess it just makes me feel better because when people ask what the title of my book is I don’t have to say, “Untitled.” I think that’s a cop-out which explains why I don’t like some modern art because the artist wasn’t creative enough to call his/her piece anything better than Untitled No. 5.

With all this in mind, here are my attempts to generate some more titles!

–~–

Formula: To quote Liam, Head Phil, “[Main character’s name] and the [big glaringly obvious high point of the book].”

Example: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins, Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson – I could go on forever. This is especially common with middle-grade/YA books. Another one is Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, but Riordan brilliantly changes things up and uses that formula for the series title. That was sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.

My version: Amanda and the Academy of Light, Amanda and the War Against Chuck [my evil character], Amanda and the War of Magic

–~–

Formula: [Main character’s name]

Example: Lyddie by Katherine Paterson, Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My version: Amanda

–~–

Formula: [Single word that somehow relates to story]

Example: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My version: Magic [that has to be the most boring, least descriptive title ever], Light

–~–

Formula: [Parody of some famous phrase that fits the story]

Example: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter and Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb

My version: Alright, The Strange Ones isn’t a parody of a well-known phrase, but I based it on a phrase in Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; Jacob Black refers to vampires as “the cold ones”.

–~–

Formula: [Big important event in book]

Example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, and The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

My version: The Magic War, War of Magic

–~–

Formula: [Part of someone else’s quote]

Example: All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen comes from an Oscar Wilde quote: “I quite agree with Dr. Nordau’s assertion that all men of genius are insane, but Dr. Nordau forgets that all sane people are idiots.” The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is based on a passage from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

My version: The Thing About Magic comes from a quote by Charles de Lint, whoever he is: “That’s the thing about magic; you’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.”

–~–

Formula: [Something that relates to character(s) yet is slightly mysterious so the reader becomes curious]

Example: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Sirius Black) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book One: The Lightning Thief (Ares) by Rick Riordan, and The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) and The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (nine dudes who sing a lot).

My version: The Man of Many Identities [Chuck, because he reincarnates – I like this title but my novel isn’t really about him; it’s about Amanda], Amanda and the Man of Many Identities [getting better], and The Day The World Might Have Ended [Chuck is trying to bring about Doomsday to get something he wants – a ring, actually. Thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien!] The Man of Many Identities would make an excellent title for a spy book, don’t you think? I may just have to start writing James Bond-esque stories…

–~–

Which title do you like best? Do you have any suggestions for titles?

By the way, I just realized – this is my three hundredth post! Awesome!

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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22 Responses to NaNoWriMo 2012: I Hereby Dub Thee…

  1. Out of the titles you’ve suggested, I think my two favourites are “The Strange Ones” and “The Thing About Magic”. I like the part-of-a-quote ones. At the moment I am reading a book called “To Destroy You Is No Loss” which is part of the Khmer Rouge slogan, “To keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss”.

    Perhaps because it is just one name, Amanda doesn’t (to me) seem to go so well in the “[main characters name] and the [big glaringly obvious highpoint of the book]” formula.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Alright! I also like “The Thing About Magic” the most.

      Yes, at some point I was just writing down whatever came to mind even if it wasn’t that good, so that I could get more titles. And then more titles might lead to more ideas…

  2. Tanya Cienfuegos says:

    don’t worry, I’m garbage at titles too. The title for my NaNo is ‘Evil Love’ and that’s the… 5th retitle.

    I like ‘The Day The World Might Have Ended’ personally, it makes me curious. How did the world come close to ending? Did it end or didn’t it? What day did this happen on?

    • nevillegirl says:

      OK! No, it doesn’t end, but Chuck-the-evil-guy wants to destroy it on Halloween. Long story.

      • Tanya Cienfuegos says:

        why do the evil guys always schedule their world destroying on holidays? Don’t they realize that everyone’s too busy to pay attention?

          • Tanya Cienfuegos says:

            at least he didn’t choose Black Friday, the traffic alone would foil his entire plot and god forbid that he need to go into a store to get anything.

            • nevillegirl says:

              O_O Do you… mind if I use that as the evil day? That would actually work better because my book is a parody of fantasy and I want things to be as ridiculous as possible. For example, at the start of this important meeting of fellow evil dudes, Chuck sat down on a chair that wasn’t there. Stupid stuff like that, and then there’s stuff that actually parodies fantasy…

              • Tanya Cienfuegos says:

                I insist that you do. Christmas has been done, Halloween has been done, not sure about Thanksgiving but who can do anything after eating that much turkey but Black Friday is very much a day for evil, destruction and death. XD And I must tell you, I adore fantasy parodies.

  3. wolfluv745 says:

    I like “The Thing About Magic”

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  5. Miriam Joy says:

    I’m a big fan of the one word titles: Watching, Destroying and Returning are the titles of my trilogy. Then again, my main NaNo novel this year was called Weapons of Chaos, and I also had another one, which I abandoned temporarily, called Isabel, so that’s going with the name thing. I’ve also had a book called The Quiet Ones (from the saying “it’s always the quiet ones”) and another called Figurehead, and another called Rite…overwhelmingly the one word titles seem to be my thing, but that might just be because I’m lazy.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yes, I’ve noticed. 😀 I do like one-word titles because they’re, I dunno, just cool. A lot of YA books have one-word titles now – I was looking at this YA-book website and tons of them did. The only problem is that at the moment I can’t think of any good short titles for *my* book.

      • Miriam Joy says:

        Never try and fit in with other titles! Some books have really long titles (“You don’t have to be evil to work here, but it helps”) or really short ones (“Barking”). Both of those examples are by the same author (Tom Holt). He’s hilarious. Check him out – sci-fi/fantasy parodies that are completely and utterly amazingly hilarious, and if you haven’t read them yet then you’re missing out.

        • nevillegirl says:

          I love that first title. 🙂 I think I will read his books.

          No, I don’t want to fit in – me, fit in? O_O – but short titles can be pretty good and it seems like more people are catching on to that.

  6. seersha says:

    “The Day The World Might Have Ended” is probably the greatest title I’ve seen in a while. Mostly because I don’t really like titles that give away much of the story (therefore, I wouldn’t read a book if I already knew there was a war about magic) and, although ‘Amanda’ really doesn’t, I think a book title should only be the name of a character when it’s about the challenges of a character’s life. Like, not one where there’s only one opponent, and one ultimate goal, but one where life happens and things change, and people come and go and grow up and grow old.
    But no, really, out of all of those, I think “The Day The World Might Have Ended” is just plain awesome and that’s pretty much it.

  7. GAH! my comment got lost! *grumbles grrss….*

    SO I see my mind is similar to many of the others liking “The Thing About Magic” and “The Day The World Might Have Ended”.

    However I lean towards “The Thing About Magic” – because the thing about magic is there’s always a good and bad side… *giggles* no actually, I just think it fits the genre better, because the world ending could be a teenagers view that losing her first love meant her world would end, only to find out it doesn’t (or some other tragidy where you have to pick up the pieces and move on) or it could be about biblical armageddon, diverted (which Miriam is writing) or… a lot of possibilities.

    BUT “The Thing About Magic” lets you know, magic is involved, and makes me curious as to what we’re going to find out about magic and will it fit our sterio types or won’t it. And I think, given you’re novel is aparody, that just might work as well as the “You Don’t Have to be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps” title.

    *grins* And I know what you mena baout not having working titiles. I always have them and then, when the proper title strikes me, I use it. I’ve gone from Sarah & Jason to Sarah’s Phoenix, and Trabia to Unearthing Magic (this years NaNovel). Oh and Christeen’s Fairytale to Holy Horses – so far those are the only three that have had such metamophosis, everything else still has a working title that may or may not stick. :}

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