Monday, March 25, 2013

Origami Riot, or I suck at titles



Last night I had a dream about origami. I know, it’s not the normal sort of dream, but in my dream, all the folded cranes and coy and samurai hats were full sized and battling each other. It was an origami riot.

And I was struck by how great of a title that would be. Yeah, I know, I’m really tired and sitting in the tire shop, just go with it.

The real question that got me going is why?

I mean, I suck at titles. I’m really good at the straight forward titles, but the really good titles… yeah, nothing. Origami Riot is a great title for what was happening because those two words paint the whole picture. You can see what that story is about.

But how do you describe an 80,000 word book in a title?

I guess the best advice is to capture a sense of the book in the title. Is it funny? Then the title should have humor. Is it filled with horror? Then the title should be dark. Outrageous book? Outrageous Title.

Ah, but a word of caution: Titles shouldn’t sound like a gimmick. Just imagine what that says about your story. If the title is a gimmick, then is the whole book a gimmick? So yeah gimmicks should be avoided.

This is something I’m terrible at, so let me know: are titles easy peasy for you, or do you sweat over them? What’s your trick?


20 comments:

  1. Sometimes titles come easily to me, and sometimes they don't. There's no real pattern for it, either

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    1. Yeah, me too. I'm starting to think that titles are the new query letter. erg.

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  2. It works great as a blog post title, sucked me right in :) Yeah I suck at titles too. I had a two hour Facebook conversation to come up with my most recent one: What Not to Do When You're Falling in Love. I like it, but wonder if it's too long. Yeah, Titles are hard.

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    1. I think What Not to Do When You're Falling in Love is a pretty good title. I keep waffling back and forth over the gimmicky titles and the boring, yet descriptive titles (like Mommy by Day, Superhero by Night and Immortal Sun).

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    2. I think that's a great title--like Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.

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  3. I have the hardest time with titles. And by hard, I mean, one comes to me early and quickly...may or may not be the best...but it sticks. When I try hard to some up with something, I get title block.

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    1. Yeah, this is me too. I feel like there's way too much pressure to come up with a good title.

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  4. I wish I could help, but titles are one of the first things that come to me when I start writing. In fact, how do you write without a title??

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    1. I always have a title, but it's just not usually very good.

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    2. Annalisa, I have the same sort of reaction. The title comes to me early and it conjures up the story line as a visual in my head. Like a teaser trailer clip that I need to flesh out to the full movie.

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  5. I find my titles actually help with the fleshing of a story. The title often springs from the initial plot development. Having said that, I am not exactly a fervently published author but am working towards it.

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    1. Yeah, I understand how the title can be such a big help, but I've named books in the past only to be told that it's a really common title, or it sounds just like other work on the market. So yeah, me and titles don't always get along.

      But I'm working on it. Maybe I just need to write a book to go along with a great title I already have.

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  6. I've had a couple titles that were no-brainers, and a couple that still plague me, like my WIP. Grr. Still, I think the ones that come organically early on tend to be the better ones. Of course, have I ever picked up a book based on it's title? Very, very rarely. Cover? Sure. Title, not so much.

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    1. You know, that's a good point. Although I have picked up a couple of books based on the title to check out the cover copy, but I've never site unseen bought a book based only on the title.

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  7. Titles are not my strong point, but I think Elizabeth Seckman is the title master! Okay, enough gushing about Elizabeth, lol and griping about titles, let's talk about this dream of yours. I think dreams are important because there's a verse in The Bible that talks about how God and his angels minister to our spirits even while we sleep. And dreams had so much significance in The Bible...anyway, I didn't come here to preach, and I don't even know what your beliefs are, lol, but I didn't want you to think I was getting all crazy voodoo on you or something, so I thought I'd explain my thinking before I tossed this out there. Since I dream crazy stuff all the time, I go to a website where I just key in the symbol that sticks out the most in a dream, and it'll say what it means. I looked yours up, and this is what I found...Origami
    To fold or make origami in your dream represents your creativity. You need to learn to express yourself through paper and your imagination. In other words, you should write more. Consider what you are making in origami and look up the significance of that object. All right, now I'll look up crane to see what it says...Crane
    To see a crane in your dream represents happiness, maternal love, and your gestures of good will. You look out for those who are near and dear to you. Alternatively, a crane signifies tact, immortality or vigilance. And there you have it, lol. If you want to go look up more stuff, (if you don't think it's weird)here's the web address http://www.dreemmoods.com/
    :)








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    1. I love looking up my dreams in those dream things. I'm pretty sure I know why I'm dreaming about origami though. I've started folding a ton of cranes. My daughter loves them, so she's been running around the house with them.
      Two years ago I had a dream where I was carving agents out of granite. I wonder what that dream was all about (the website says that I'm turning my subconscious into reality, and boy I hope so)

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  8. Well, coming from a girl who works on the titles of WiP1, WiP2, WiP3 etc for most of my time creating them, I'm not really the one to ask.

    Usually, I wait for my convoluted brain to come up with something amazing.

    Doorways, for example works, because 1) doors recur throughout the story, and 2) because the main character of this book has "doorways" into two possible new lives, but has a hard time with the choice she makes.

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  9. sometimes they're easy, sometimes they escape me... but i like titles, tho i can be gimmicky... and sometimes gimmicky is memorable. hard decisions!

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  10. I'll go through the writing, the editing, whatever, with a filler title, then at some point the real title pops out at me screaming its head off. It's not my fault, I didn't do it. The book picked it. :)

    Lauren

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  11. That's the best dream ever. I wish I had dreams like that. *looks over at Origami critters spilling off shelves all over the room and imagines an epic battle*

    I don't sweat titles too much. In the end, the publisher gets to choose or tweak the title don't they? Unless I'm self-publishing, I just try to come up with a title that would make ME pick the book on amazon or off the shelf at B&N, and use that. I also make sure to run a couple of title choices past at least five of my beta readers before deciding.

    When I first started writing my current novel, it was titled "Steamclot" since that's the name of the city in which the story takes place. Then I changed it to "Waking Up Wyverns" because I thought the story was about the wyvern/dragon that the main character awakens from hundreds of years of slumber. Then I changed it to "The Thoughtmaker" after I realized the book was really about the Steampunk device at the end (called The Thoughtmaker) which the main character chooses to use even though it's slightly evil. The book is all about her choices, so it made sense to me. My beta readers all liked "The Thoughtmaker" best, so I went with that.
    If this book gets picked up by a publisher, who knows? Their expertise might tell them that a different title is more marketable, and I'd be ok with that.

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