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!