Crafting and ultimately choosing the perfect title to represent your novel is one of the most challenging aspects of a writer’s life. A title is an important element of marketing and should work hand-in-hand with the cover design to catch a potential reader’s attention. The question then becomes: what should be the focus of my title?
The first approach is to base your title on the main character. Using this method, the writer might combine a few of the character’s traits or attitudes to create a pithy title. This sort of approach is particularly popular in the entertainment industry, in which a single word (usually an adverb) is used to both describe plot and characterization. (The Disney Corporation has become particularly fond of this method ie. Brave, Tangled, and Frozen).
Another popular way to create a title is to select a phrase straight out of the novel. If you’ve felt a swell of pride after writing a particularly beautiful/moving/telling line, chances are good that something from that sequence could be adapted into a title. A great example of this is George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular Game of Thrones. This title is pulled directly from a key discussion between characters and became the title of the first novel in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series as well as the title for the television series.
The final most commonly used method is to craft a title around the central quest/action of the story. This approach works across most genres. Say that your character is a detective investigating a murder: your title could mirror the name of the case file. While writing fantasy or science fiction, consider a title that describes the world you’ve crafted or the object that creates the most action and conflict.
These three methods, while commonly used, are only some of a multitude of possible ways to craft your perfect title. Regardless of the method or approach, the title of your work can act as a liason between you and an editor or agent. Even if a publisher ultimately chooses to change your title for marketing purposes, that initial title may help to get your novel out of the slush pile and into acquisitions.