From the pen of Gail Sattler
What's in a title?
As I'm working on my current project, my publisher has changed the title of my book, so that's my topic this month.
Sometimes the titles come easy, sometimes they don't. So let's think about it. What, really, is important when constructing a title?
First, let's go over what a title must be. It must be short. It must indicate something of the story and plot. it must tweak the reader's interest enough to make them check out the storyline. It must be unique.
That said, secondly, what must a title not be. It must not be.... boring. It must not be too long. It must not be flowery or over-descriptive. It must not be something that's been used too many times.
As an aside, titles can not be copyrighted. That means that a title legally can be used again by another author. Usually this is done without either author's prior knowledge. I mean, really, who would deliberately pick a title they know was already used?
Back to our topic. Think of some titles of books or movies that struck you. Or, if someone says the word or words, there are many you will automatically know the story, even though it's been years or decades since you read the book or saw the movie.
Carrie. Speed. The Hunger Games. Jurassic Park.
Look at those titles. A couple of them were one word. One. Word. Those are all memorable titles. Or here's a longer one. Gone with the Wind. (4 words)
You know in a nanosecond what the story was. You can picture the characters. For some, you can even quote lines.
How does an author do that?
I can tell you, it's not easy. Those short blips may sound easy, but we all know that the easier it sounds, the harder it was to do. Really, how can you describe a book that takes 4 1/2 hours to read in one word?
It can be done.
When we first start marketing that book as a manuscript to a publisher we need to summarize the entire book down to 100 words or less. For the movie-teaser, 2 sentences, and they can not be run-ons or have the word "and" to make it longer. Onc you have that movie-teaser perfect, then take your high concept. If you haven't got both of these done, you shouldn't have written that book yet. In order to focus on really nailing your plot, you must know your high concept. Once you have that, then summarize your high concept into a few words, and there is your perfect title.
Easier said than done? Well, of course. But it's worth it.
Until next time.
Gail Sattler is a well known author with 30 books published with Barbour, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and B&H.
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