Some writers will tell you that the title is the most important thing about a novel/poem/short story. After all, it’s the title that will give potential readers the very first impression of your work. It’s certainly necessary to give a lot of thought to what it will be, but coming up with a title is not always as easy as it sounds.
(Note: I use the word ‘novel’ for the sake of keeping this article simple, but these five tips can be applied to just about any type of writing.)
- Write your novel first. Sometimes you might be lucky, and find your title comes to you very early on. But if not, don’t spend valuable writing time puzzling over what to call your work. Get it written first; you’ll have plenty of time to worry about what to name it later.
- Keep an open mind. Listen to suggestions from other people. Don’t settle for a title you’re not crazy about just because it seems like the best thing to call your work. When you’ve found the right title, you’ll know.
- Sit down with a large piece of paper, a fat pen and write down everything about your book. Write down keywords and phrases. Write down, in short, everything that has happened in your novel. Make notes of the themes, of the little nuances, scribble notes about your characters. This way, everything your novel is about will be laid out in front of you. Somewhere amidst your scribblings, you may just finds your perfect title.
- Keep it simple. Don’t be pompous or pretentious. Make sure your title is short and catchy, and accurately sums up the nature of what you’ve written without being an essay to read or a mouthful to say.
- Keep in mind, keywords. Make sure your title resonates with the genre in which you have written. Horror fans are not going to pay much attention to your terrifying story if it has a name which sounds like it could be a romance novel. And vice versa.
It’s also important to remember that your book publisher will have a lot to say about the title and what keywords it contains. Remember, also, that a title is a work in progress. If your book isn’t selling, consider changing the title, the cover image etc etc.