by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine
As always, we learn much from the ones who've gone before. Let's consider some of the classics of literature, and see how the pros did it:
THE MAIN CHARACTER
Robinson Crusoe and Anne of Green Gables sound classic to us today because they are classic. In this day and time, it's unlikely that a new book called Regina Thornbush or The Adventures of Wallace Hampton would attract anyone's attention.
If you must hone in on the hero, these days it's more popular to keep things faceless and generic, like the titles of these current New York Times bestsellers:
The Great Zoo of China. John Grisham's Gray Mountain and Sycamore Row say little as titles, but hey, he's John Grisham, and his fans will buy anything he writes.
Overall, it's better to play it safe with some of the following titling strategies:
AN INKLING OF THE PREMISE
- Around the World in Eighty Days
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- The Old Man and the Sea
- The Time Machine
Go Set a Watchman and Secondhand Souls, a thought-provoking title demands extra consideration.
And then there are titles whose very wording suggests an air of greatness:
All the Light We Cannot See is a current example. You feel smarter just saying it.
Choosing the right title for your novel is one of the most important things you'll do, but it needn't be the hardest. Find the title that is an inviting reflection of what makes your book unique, and you'll have your reader at hello.