Inspiration is the key!
So you’re a writer. And you’re currently writing your novel. Whether it is your first novel or not, you do not want to rush into the decision of picking the right title for your hard work, do you? Judging from my own personal experience, I both found myself working on novels starting from the title and struggled to give my novel a title. The first case relates to my experience of writing (or perhaps creating the plot of) my second novel: it was not something I was looking forward to. However, I thought about how cool it would have been to have a novel with such title. From there, I have developed a plot, came up with a few ideas and slowly figured out how to match the title with a plot which was and is still forming before my own eyes.
But it’s the first case that I want to focus on, the first book: I had a raw idea of how I wanted the plot to develop, then slowly found an identity for it. However, the title was one of my biggest struggles until I came up with the definitive one.
Here are a few suggestions on how you want to choose one for yours:
1. Don’t use the name of a main or secondary character. Having a novel called, for instance, “Annie” or “Jamie” won’t make it stand out. You want something more precise, and you need a clearer identity. A name just won’t do. If you really want to use a character’s name in the title, just make sure you attach it to an object or something symbolic. Don’t give away too much too soon.
2. Be specific and vague at the same time. Wouldn’t something like “Waving Goodbye to Yellow Trees” attract your interest? You’ve got to be kind of quirky and unique in your title aswell.
3. Don’t make it too short, but long. Remember, it’s always best to have a long title rather than a dull one, made of one regular word. If you’re convinced that one word will do, then make it a strange word, something one can once again define as symbolic. Let’s imagine this novel is based on another dimension, i.e. “Narnia“. That’ll do.
4. Make sure the title sums up your novel. Find a strong point of reference, something or someone one of the characters relates to, something recurring, the least obvious choice. A wartime novel called “War and Bombs” would have a hard time convincing people to pick it up and give it a read.
5. Don’t use puns, don’t copy others. Be original and this will make you proud of your work. One of the reasons why I am not even considering “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” as my next read is because it tells me exactly what the book contains, which is spot on as a title for a parody. But since it already gives away too much, and I know I would not like to read a parody of “Pride and Prejudice” I already know that this is not the book for me and won’t even give it a try. Whoknows, perhaps, had the author chosen another title, I would have ended up being hooked.
Regardless of what you choose, I think having a title for a book is also a great way to idealise your work and to keep you focused on your aims. These suggestions are not absolute truths, of course. But I believe that this is the right approach with which you can give your work a precise identity. This should improve your confidence in the story you’re telling and you will see a little bit more of yourself in your project.