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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting the Title Right: An 8-Step Plan

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: How do you choose your titles?

I know some people say it’s instinct. The title just comes to them out of the blue and it’s the most perfect title ever. Others pick a great line from the novel and use that as a title. Some use the main character’s name or an important event, object, or theme from the book.

Not me.

No, I have a formula. A foolproof formula, by the way. I’m going to share it with you mainly because I like you and you come visit me here.

Since I don’t want to put to much about my current WIP on my blog, I’ll just make up a story on the spot to illustrate my Impossibly Awesome Title-Creating Formula. (That’s your cue to get a pen and paper.)

1. Take the last letter of the name of a supporting character who you wrote into the story for the sole purpose of having a former underwear model play the role should movie rights be optioned. In my fictional story, we’ll call him Emmett.

2. Add the third letter of the name of a love interest who’s irresistible on the page but would warrant a restraining order in real life. I’ll go with Edward.

3. Next, add a middle letter of a responsible parent’s name. I’m choosing the I in Carlisle.

4. After that, add the letter that appears most often in your main character’s name. In this totally fictional example, my main character is named Bella, so I’d go with L.

5. Repeat the letter used in #3 if, and only if, that parent does something irresponsible during the course of the book. Here, I’d repeat I.

6. Because setting’s important, too, add a random letter from the state (or, for fantasy and sci-fi, the kingdom or planet) your story takes place in. I’m going to set mine in … oh, let’s go with Washington. And I’ll choose the letter G.

7. Add the first letter of the last name of the character with the least amount of self-control. Let’s pretend my annoyingly uncontrolled side character’s name is Jasper Hale.

8. Finally, repeat the letter you use in #1 because it rounds the word out and makes it appear prettier on the cover.

Okay, so my totally fake, made-up-right-now-I-promise title is: Twilight. Not bad.

NOTE: Whatever you do, do not use a letter from a second love interest’s name if, by the end, that second love interest gets scummed by the main character. Doing so can result in a TERRRIBLE title, such as Tjwiblight. (And, honestly, would you ever buy that?)

How do you come up with your titles?

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