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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guest Post: Martin Willoughby on "Creating a Book Title"

Aloha,

I’m passing the Buick to an English blogger friend, Martin Willoughby, over at From Sand to Glass.

Martin, whose Friday Fun posts are *hilarious,* is celebrating the release of his first book, Tempers Fugit.
The lanai is all yours, Martin :)

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Creating A Title For Your Book

The process of creating a book title is a pain in the neck, though some people have a lower opinion of it. But there are ways round the problem and some secrets I can share...providing you promise not to tell anyone else.

Secret Number 1: Steal someone else’s. As long as the title you use is relevant to your own, you can use any title someone else has used, though I don’t recommend it. What you can do is use that title as the starting point for your own search for a title. Take, for instance, a famous book such as Great Expectations. If your book is about a person with TB trying to achieve his life’s goal before he dies, you could change it to Great Expectorations.

Secret Number 2: Brainstorm. Get a piece of paper and write down any title that’s even remotely relevant, however idiotic it may seem at the time. When I came to re-title A Stitch In Time I went through various ideas based on film titles starting with The Good, The Bad and The One With the Pet Robot through to 2381: A Space Oddity and various other embarrassing titles in between. It was only when I got together with a friend that we came with Tempers Fugit. The inspiration for that title came from Terry Pratchett’s book Carpe Jugulum, which is based in the Latin Carpe Diem (seize the day). As it’s about vampires, the title is very apt indeed. My novel Tempers Fugit is based on the Latin Tempus Fugit (time flies) to become Tempers Flying.

Secret Number 3: Use an important phrase from the book. What does your main character repeat often? How does the book end? Where is it set? Write a comprehensive list, then start discarding the ones that you hate. Pass them around friends and relatives and see which one makes the biggest impact. Then ignore them all and plump for the one you like. Back to Terry Pratchett here and his first book, The Colour of Magic. In the novel magic does have a colour, but there is also a link to the film The Colour Of Money, thereby reusing a well known phrase but changing it to suit the book.

Secret Number 4: Use the main characters name and add what he’s going to face. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You could do the same for the world you’ve created, such as Dune or use the theme of the story, as with Fat by Rob Grant.

Secret Number 5: Get weird. Salmon Fishing the Yemen, A History Of Tractors in the Ukraine, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and so on and so forth.

Secret Number 6: (This entry has been censored by the Publishing Industry as it reveals our innermost secrets. The author has been placed under protective custody in Area 51...which doesn’t exist so forget we mentioned it)

In short, get creative. Pay as much attention to the title as you do to the story, as it’s the first thing that people will see, at least until you become famous and can have your name as the selling point.
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MartinWilloughby is an author of some repute and a legend in his own lunchtime. When not writing he fixes computers, raises teenage children and acts in an amateur theatre group where he’s always cast as the baddy. He’s won many awards in his lifetime, including an Oscar for best actor which he received from his mother as a Christmas present many years ago. Tempers Fugit is his first book, his second, Apollo The Thirteenth, will be released later this year to even more fanfare and approval. You can stalk him on twitter or via his blog, From Sand to Glass.
 
 
 
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In other news, (I've always wanted to say that:) Sarah's Reviews is offering a giveaway of three books by the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie.


For full details, click on any - or all - of the links below.

 
 
 

 

 

26 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm going to remember those secrets if I ever write another book! Thank God my publisher had a clue because I would've come up with something really lame for my second and third books.
Congratulations on Tempers Fugit, Martin!

David P. King said...

Awesome post, Martin! Titles are among my favorite parts of writing a book, and I like your tips. I'll often pick the one thing about the book that's unique and most of the time no one else has used that as a title. Pretty cool deal, I think. :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I love your title-creating methods! Just the other day, I was trying to help a friend brainstorm titles and we used some of these strategies.

Good luck with Tempers Fugit, and I love Apollo the Thirteenth as a title, too!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

great post... i am never short of words when it comes to titles, it's the darn inside that gets me down... ;)

must fix this "RUSH" issue... don't make me come to where you are and hit you with a cocoanut... :)

really it's a great post...

Nicole said...

Great examples for coming up with titles. I always wonder what others would come up with if we did book titles the way newspapers do headlines (As in, a different person writes the article and the headline).

Bibliophile said...

I'm writing a book in collaboration with another author and if it's difficult to think up a title on your own, it's exponentially more difficult to find one that we both like.

We finally settled on one but as the book shifted during rewrites and edits, that name's no longer really relevant so I guess the whole process is going to have to begin again.

Ho hum.

Martin Willoughby said...

Mark: Thanks for hosting me today.

Alex: They've let me out of Area 51 to let you know That you HAVE to write another book.

David: If you have a method that works. stick with it.

Dianne: The Apollo book is even better than the title.

Jeremy: If you rush the first draft (which is what I do), you can add reams of information in the second draft.

Nicole: Papers sit on headlines connected to famous people and wait for a story that fits it.

Bibliophile: Maybe you should delegate the work to one or other of you?

cleemckenziebooks said...

Titles are my hardest part. I've often considered publishing a book called "No Name At All" just to avoid figuring out what to call it. However, I'm noting your suggestions, especially the stealing one. I like that. :-)

Thanks, Mark for the shout out about the giveaways. You did way more than I expected, and I loved it.

Aloha!

Morgan said...

Totally an entertaining post! Wonderful tips, Martin. Loved. :D

Samantha May said...

I'm not very good at coming up with titles! I do find the strange ones to be the most eye catching though...

I'll keep these tips in mind :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Its great to meet Martin and best wishes for Tempers.Fugit. I would have titled.the book Trempers Fugit though.

Julie Luek said...

Titles are my least favorite aspect of writing. I'm always so thankful that I write mostly magazine articles and editors will rewrite a title most of the time anyway. Book titles would petrify me, but this is great advice.

Pk Hrezo said...

Great advice Martin! Naming my books is one of my fave parts of the process. Sometimes they just come to me, other times I have to really think about it. :)

Martin Willoughby said...

Cleem: How about start with the title and write a story around it?

Morgan: The book's even MORE interesting. :)

Samantha: If the odd ones are what attracts you, then that may be the way for you to go.

Stephen: When are you flying and to where?

Julie: Then feel petrified no more.

Pk: You like it? Lie down and take your temperature, you may be ill.

Carrie-Anne said...

Some of my past titles I came up with as a preteen and in my early teens are just awful. Really corny, cliché, generic, after school special-worthy. A couple of titles I reworked or came up with later on are things I'm really proud of. I like to use titles that suggest literary depth and seriousness, drawing perhaps on some symbolism or themes from the book.

Al Diaz said...

I'll keep those tips in mind. God knows I'll need them some day and really bad. I'm not that creative with titles.
We have a date for Friday, Martin. Don't forget to send me your info soon. And I mean, SOON. I take years to put a post together and dwarves are already excited about the Friday Fun.

Fran said...

Interesting post. I'm glad you explained your title - I've been wondering!...

Dana said...

Yes, titles are hard. The weird ones are my favorites. :) Thanks for the tips.

Meradeth Houston said...

Love these ideas! And definitely think that The Good, The Bad and The One With the Pet Robot needs to be a real book. Seriously.

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

The title of this book is awesome.

Mark, I want you to go look at this article http://finance.yahoo.com/news/america-s-top-states-for-quality-of-life--take-a-bow-152236551.html

Look which state is number one for quality of life.

You got it good man.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I already entered all three giveaways. Yes I'm greedy, and super good at finding giveaways. Martin gives some awesome title finding tips. I rarely have trouble picking a title for the books I write.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful post!

This reminds me of my struggle with my title, and my blurb, and all the place names in my book . . . and some of the names of my characters. My poor villainess, Kalidess, went through two drafts as "the dark sorceress" and then got stuck with "Sirhqayya" for a few more drafts until my CP, my kids, my husband, my facebook friends, my parents, and everyone knew cried out for a different name for her . . . and gave me a few ideas, of which I used . . . none. There's still dispute over how her name is said, and that's ok. It makes her more interesting, right? :)

Anyway, love the post, and I plan to share it with a writer friend of mine whose current title is "Not __________" - really.

Melissa said...

Great post. Choosing a title isn't easy when you know it can make or break a book.

Martin Willoughby said...

Carrie: That's where comedy is easier as tongue-in cheek works.

Al: The dwarves should be happy by now.

Fran: Just don't ask me about Bubble Books.

Dana: They're certainly the most eye-catching.

Meradeth: Challenge accepted.

Michael: Thank you.

Sheena: It's a skill that you have there.

Tyrean: I empathise. I've changed character names many times. You wont believe how many iterations Carla went through...or maybe you would.

Melissa: I'm not sure it can make or break, but it can certainly play a big part in its success.

klahanie said...

Sir Mazza, Martin, a gerbil, a confused hedgehog and all your adoring bloggy type friends n'stuff,

Yes, it's me, shy and humble me, gracing this site with one of my eagerly anticipated comments.

I was thinking of a book title for my next release. When I say "release", that has nothing to with her Majesty's pardon. I'm contemplating, "Tempers, Ah Fugit And Forget It."

Looking forward to your next book, "Apollo The Thirteenth". Here's me thinking there was only one Apollo.

So when I threw a Frisbee in front of the closed-circuit TV at Area 51, I must of been imagining it.

Good sir, Martin, I like your refreshing approach.

Before I go, Mazza old chap, I note the giveaway of C.Lee McKenzie. Sorry, the giveaway of her three books. Did you know she's one of my ever growing group of adoring fans?

Sadly, due to overwhelming demand at other blog sites, I must go now.

Gazza!

The Words Crafter said...

These are great ideas, thanks for sharing them! And it's nice to meet you, Martin :) I'm going over to check out your book!

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