Magic Words


I have a confession. I hate coming up with titles. I can spin a tale with a hundred thousand words, but ask me to tack on a tiny, catchy moniker and my brain grinds to a halt. My day job certainly does not help in developing this skill. My last presentation had the gripping title: “3D- QSAR Analysis of Flavonoid Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter Inhibitors”.

You fell asleep, didn’t you? I don’t blame you. Academic titles bore me too.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. The nebulous “they” don’t say anything about the title. I’ve picked up books simply because I liked the title, which led to reading the blurb, and possibly a scan of the first chapter, etc. Unless I’m buying a book by an author I love, in which case they could probably title the next book in their series “Book ##”, titles are often what grab my attention. For an author, getting a person to pick up a book, or peruse it on Amazon, is ninety percent of the battle.

I could write the most awesome romantic sci-fi/fantasy in history, but what if my title dooms it? I can hear the books with snazzy titles whispering, “Jeeze, can you believe she gave her book that title?” It’s like being the mother that curses their child with a horrid name.

I always come up with something eventually. I ask fellow writers, conduct polls, and heck I may even ask my kids. I’d love to hear how other writers settle on titles. Is there a “Writing Titles for Dummies” book I can consult? I certainly hope if an editor accepts my book, he or she will be a title genius, because I admit that I am not.

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