Braving the Title

You’ve written your masterpiece, edited down to the last detail, gotten approval from your beta-readers, and now you’re ready to publish. But wait – you need a title!

Some people will agonize for eternity over the title, thinking every idea they come up with is stupid or cliché. My best advice is to be nice to yourself while going through this process. And be accepting of all your ideas, too. Write down every single idea that comes into your mind, no matter how stupid it seems. That’s how you’ll eventually get to the good ideas.

Another tip is to reread your own work. Look for key phrases. What characters or situations are central to the plot? For instance, I noticed in my first book that the characters refer to mermaids as “people with fishtails” multiple times. That became the title: People with Fishtails. It may not be perfect, but it expresses the idea of the book.

Finally, look for a title that highlights the integral figure or concept of your book. It can be tempting to settle for a title that describes events in the story, such as “The Mystycetii Colony” for one of my stories about England sending colonists to a mermaid-dominated island. I ended up calling that story “The Red Siren,” because a red-tailed mermaid lures the main character to his eventual fate. (“The Red Siren” is the first of three short mermaid stories published in Three Mermaid Tales.)

Now, get out your Paperblanks journal and start jotting down titles! And no, they’re not all stupid!

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