Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brain Farting

This has nothing to do with brains — or farts, but everything to do with catchy titles.

See, I made you look. Mission accomplished!

So, yes. Catchy titles. How many of us have been drawn to buying a book, simply by the title? Some titles literally grab you by the eyeballs and you think: “Cool.” Cover art also helps but that’s another story.

Other titles are pretty much run of the mill and self-explanatory.  Then there are those titles that are catchy and have the wow factor, but like this post, you find out after buying it, has nothing to do with what the title suggests.

I’ve tried with my books, to give the title something of what the book is about. Admittedly, I like catchy titles — and quirky ones too. My current WIP is called To Catch A Marlin. Catchy, isn’t it? Of course, it has nothing to do with fish, but everything to do with a character called Marlin. Another WIP I recently completed is called, aptly, Bengaria’s War. I struggled with this one since various catchy titles came up. But in the end, I chose a one that pretty much explained it all. The lead character, Bengaria, is in a conflict with both herself and the powers that be. Oh, and there’s a war.

When I wrote The Lancaster Rule, the working title was once the staid and cringe-worthy, Time Flies.  It even had a variant, which was even more cringe-worthy: Tempus Fugit. (Gag!)  I owe The Lancaster Rule’s catchiness and somewhat classy title, to a friend who after having read the hideous first draft, thought it suited the book.  She was right!  Later on, The Master Key and The Eternal Knot were spawned (all on my own, thank you very much) and both suited the contents in the book.  They were still catchy, but also self-explanatory.  While The Master Key may have been used elsewhere and a pretty generic name for books, I thought it fitting, considering what the book was about.  At one point I was tempted to call it The Genetic Key, but that would’ve been obvious about what the story arc was all about. In the end, I stuck with The Master Key.

So, what motivates me in coming up with titles?  I really can’t say.  Some of them just sort of materialize organically, others just zap into my brain and I think: That one for sure!
Others sort of cogitate and formulate inside my brain, twisting and turning with variations until several vacuous thoughts spew out. Hey, wait, I am talking about brain farting. Ha!

Anyways, right now, I’m working on a few short stories as well, and the challenge is to keep them fresh and catchy at the same time, without them sounding dull.  These shorts are from the To Catch A Marlin tale, just in case you were wondering.  So, you can imagine the amount of brain farting I’m doing…

What is it you do to come up with a catchy title?  Do you have a certain ritual you perform?  Do you meditate on it?  Does it form organically as the story gets written?  Do you use working titles to keep the motivation going?  I’d love to know.

T.K. Toppin


January Bain said...

Hi T.K.!

Catchy titles are indeed important. Sometimes mine come right away and some are just "working" titles. You are quite right about the importance of choosing well!

January Bain said...

Hi T.K.!

Catchy titles are indeed important. Sometimes mine come right away and some are just "working" titles. You are quite right about the importance of choosing well!

Liz Fountain said...

I still don't have a great title for the book that will be published by Champagne; the working title was suggested by an editor who helped me with the manuscript, and refined by a wonderful woman named Jane who stood in line with me to get agent/editor appointments at the PNWA conference last year. The titles of the two novel manuscripts that came from NANOWRIMO works just appeared in the haze of midnight word count padding that is the NANOWRIMO experience. Catchy? Good? Dunno, but I like 'em.

Big Mike said...

You got me. I read that when it comes to impulse buying readers are drew to the cover and title. Now I must sign off from the DQ in downtown Penhook (pop 12). Powers been out since Friday and they say it won't be back for another 5 days. 100 degrees too. Yuck.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

TKToppin said...

Thanks guys for commenting. Right now, I've a sort of short I'm outlining, but coming up blank for titles. I'm sure I'll figure it out. Eventually. ;P

Liz, when's you're book out? Sometimes, having a friend and bouncing names about is great!!