If writing a novel is like having a baby, then titling it is like naming your kid.
And parents fret over the names of their children. Big time. Have you seen the sheer number and size of baby name books these days? Not to mention the power of a tool like my beloved BehindTheName.com — if titles are baby names, then a quick manual on how to title a work might come in handy.
Today I want fill your titular arsenal with multiple arms that will level up the caliber of your titles. Then I hope to encourage you to arm yourself with several of them going into the final phases of publication. With a handful of solid titles ready, you’ll never get shamed over an editor’s lack of choices:
Thematic Quote — The most common practice you’ll encounter is authors who title their books using loose references to the works of other authors. Call it due deference, if you’d like, but sometimes you get the impression that an author simply liked the quote and has yet to read the work from which they derived the quote. The Sound and the Fury, And the Mountains Echoed, and Leviathan Wakes all use this. To do it yourself, call to mind your major theme, check The Oxford Book of Quotes, Goodreads, or The Dictionary of Anecdotes for quotes related to that theme, pare down the quote, and you’re golden. For instance, I’m writing a piece of Harry Potter Fanfic about feeling welcome in the midst of homelessness. I searched quotes on homelessness and found:
“Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your mind. Something you dream about and sing about. Maybe it’s not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visit, full of books and films you’ve been to. I’m not afraid of being homesick and having no language to live in. I don’t have to be like anyone else. I’m walking on the wall and nobody can stop me.”