Choosing a Title - Travis Senzaki

Choosing a Title

As of this morning, I hit 145,000 words, with just under 30,000 words and 12 chapters left to write, according to my estimate. But there are about 4-5 really important words that I haven’t given any thought to yet: My Title. Actually, both the book and series titles need attention, and this is something I struggle with more than anything.

What’s in a Name? A Lot of Lost Time

I take forever to come up with names in my story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a character or animal, a geographic feature, or some element of mythology. I’ve come up with a few that I’m really proud of, a few I’m worried about (puns or references that I think are clever), and dozens that I’m just indifferent towards. Usually, I worry about that last category, too.

I have gotten used to churning out names during my outline phase, which may or may not have anything to do with whatever I happen to be looking at at the moment. But I have dozens of characters and locations. I figure I can get away with a few iffy ones. The book only gets one title, and that what my potential readers are going to see sitting on the shelf. What can I put on the spine of that book that screams “READ ME!”?
… I would like to think “by Travis Senzaki” would be enough, but my delusions of adequacy go only so far.

Oooh, Shiny!

That’s the effect I want to go for. I listened to Mur Lafferty interview John Scalzi about his book Redshirts. He told the story of how his title sold itself. From his editor, to the marketing people, to the bookstores, all they had to hear was “John Scalzi is working on a new book called Redshirts” and they were sold. Now, I’m not dealing with quite as well-known a subject, but I need that effect.

I also need to consider the series. I’m going to have to keep titles consistent throughout, like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, so I need to keep it short and repeatable. Oh, and not cheesy. I wish I could pick his brain to find out home he settled on the title for A Game of Thrones when he began. Sure, it’s from a line in the story, but nothing like that has jumped out at me from my own work yet. Maybe when I refine my dialogue during the rewrites?

Until then, it’ll still be WiP on the Writing Progress Tracker. In the mean time, I’d love to hear from other authors in the comments below: How did you come up with your titles? Was a dartboard involved? MadLibs? A gypsy fortune teller? Your editor? I’m not discarding any approach!

Progress Update

I’m discontinuing this section for now, since I put up the Writing Progress Tracker. Please check there for daily notes!

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