Titles 1 – by Keith Julius

Titles 1 – by Keith Julius

William Shakespeare wrote: “What is a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

We can also use this rationale when discussing titles of movies, plays, television shows – or books.

“Moby Dick,” though not the most inspired choice as far as names go, is a literary milestone.  But unless your book is destined to become a classic, a feat we all may aspire to but few will ever attain, there has to be something to catch the reader’s attention.

When I was much younger – a long, long, LONG time ago – I discovered Doc Savage.   Doc was an adventurer/superhero from the 1930’s, featured in 181 book-length stories that were reprinted in the 1960s and caught my eye as a teenager.  The titles urged you to learn more, and to this day I still get excited when I recall the adventures I shared with Doc Savage and his crew.   “The Sargasso Ogre.”  “The Czar Of Fear.”  “Brand Of The Werewolf.”  “Dust Of Death.”  “According To Plan Of A One-Eyed Mystic.”

Granted, that last one doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  But it does make you curious about just who this one-eyed mystic was, and what sort of plan he was hatching.

Every word a writer uses is important, but none more than when it comes to titles.  This is the first thing the reader will read of your book.  This is your first opportunity to grab them.

It is also your first chance to lose them.

When the first Indiana Jones movie came out it could easily have been called “The Search For the Lost Ark.”  This basically says the same thing as the chosen movie title.  But there is a distinct difference.  By using the word “Raiders” George Lucas instantly conjures up the notion of something underhanded.  That may be the people looking for the lost ark – whatever that is – may not be the most reputable of sorts.  You also can’t help but associate this with the phrase “tomb raiders,” which not coincidentally fits the storyline perfectly.

“Gone With the Wind.”  Of course, it’s a classic.  But even before we start to watch (or read) of Scarlett O’Hara and her tribulations we can anticipate certain things.  Somewhere along the line something will be lost, irrevocably gone as though blown away on the wind.  The title suggests a sort of ephemeral existence, that anything good that comes to the heroine isn’t going to last for long.  We question what will happen next, and anticipate Scarlett’s next disaster.

So choose your title with care.  Use it to grab readers.  Not lose them.

Written by Keith Julius

*****

Please visit www.keithjulius.com to learn more about me and my writing.  Here you’ll find links to buying my books as well as sample chapters of each of my novels.

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2 replies »

  1. Yes, and it certainly helps to be lucky. But, neither you nor I can count on that, so Mr. Julius is right. Bearing down on that title line, even for a very long time, seems to be crucial to marketing that book. For us nonfiction writers, who have to come up with good subtitles, this applies more. Still, it’s nice to be lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

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