OK, so I lost the race but I’m on my way to finishing my second novel.
There’s a catch – apart from a few bits that still grate a little, and that I’ll have to discuss with my editor and beta readers… there’s the matter of the title.
Because so far, I’ve worked on files codenamed Matter/Energy, but let’s admit it – as a title for a science fiction novel, Matter/Energy sucks.
And is sounds like some kind of slash fiction for horny trekkies, which might attract the wrong readers.
So, I’ll have to invent a title.
The publishing gurus talk about compelling titles – but a cool title would be enough.
Because a cool title is something that really sells the novel.
On the other hand, I’ve also been hit by a few horrid titles in the last few days.
Make it weeks.
Stuff like The saga of the wizard.
Boy, this sucks a lot more than my Matter/Energy.
What’s supposed to catch my fancy, to stimulate my curiosity, to cause me to actually buy and read this story?
Add to it an anonymous cover, and the book is on the fast lane for nowhere.
And yet there’s a lot of books out there – mostly self-produced – that sport titles that are at best forgettable, at worst really damaging of what could actually be a good story.
My personal hit list of bad titles includes
- the overly generic – like the one mentioned above
the psaeudolovecraftian regurgitation – titles featuring a string of unpronounceable syllables that are supposed to sound alien/exotic
the minimalist whatever – the book has a single word for a title, and that word is singularly unattractive (body parts, botanical technical terms, commonplace words)
the name + synonym for “story” title2
titles with black, dark, blood. angel in them
anything that sounds like a well-known title with a changed word
And yet, a minimum of thought about thetitle should be part of the work – part of actually writing the story.
Because the title is, after all, part of the story.
There’s a nice book out there, called How Novels Work (nice title!), by John Mullan, which examines each element of the novel, including titles and sub-titles.
It’s well worth a read – or a re-read!
So much so that I’m posting this, and then I’m taking a look at it myself!