Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coming up With Titles

Sometimes I know the title before I write the book. At other times I flounder while trying to find the perfect title.

For my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, Tempe is a Native American, I often find an Indian legend or saying by an Indian and use some part of that. Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Wing Beat all came about that way. The one I'm working on now, Spirit Shapes also came from a quote. Of course they have something to do with the story too. 

The latest in that series, Raging Water, is a reference to what happens to Bear Creek when a huge storm strikes. I had to ask for help from my writer's group for that title.

Sometimes the title strikes me immediately, even before I start to write--at other times I flounder.

With the Rocky Bluff series, a first title came easy.

Final Respects revolves around the death of a much-loved policeman, a mortuary and a funeral--the title was perfect.

Bad Tidings refers to the bad news police officers often have to deliver--and there is plenty in this book.

In Fringe Benefits a not so good police officer takes advantage of his job.

Smell of Death was the perfect title for this mystery centering on multiple murders.

Because No Sanctuary is about two churches, the ministers, their wives and the people who attend, this was the perfect title.

An Axe to Grind fit the murder weapon and motive.

Angel Lost has a double reference which becomes apparent when you read the story.

The reason for calling this next one No Bells doesn't become apparent until near the end.

I had one heck of a time coming up with the title for Dangerous Impulses and one of the members of my critique group provided this one.

And for the one I'm writing now, a friend gave me the title which triggered the plot line. I've only written 5 chapters so I'll wait a bit to reveal the title.

Remember, titles can't be copyrighted, and often there is more than one book with the same title--sometimes they even come a around the same time.

I do always check Amazon for titles I'm considering.

How do you come up with a title for your books?

Marilyn


14 comments:

rabbiauthor.com said...

My first title, CHANUKAH GUILT, just showed up. But then I had to set the book during Chanukah. I then began to contemplate other titles involving Jewish holidays and, after rejecting PURIM PLOTZ and HIGH HOLY DAZE (which I think will be book #4),the second, UNLEAVENED DEAD, also popped into my head. While batting around ideas with my very clever, and pun-loving, younger son, 15 at the time, he said, "How about YOM KILLER?" and the title was born. I wish it were so easy to get the books written.

Elle said...

Most often for me the title arises from the story, often with a twist of mistaken interpretation. I just finished writing a Liberty Heights short story entitled Adams and Eve. In the course of this Halloween story, characters are invited to a party and asked to come as an "Adams." As for Eve, well, assuming the story is published, you"ll have to read it to discover Eve's identity. The point is, it fits with the text and context.

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

Thanks for the post. Titles do come from many sources. My culinary mysteries are the easiest. In fact, I have several dozen titles I'll never live long enough to write. The one coming out first is "Mission Impastable" and the second book is "Prime Rib and Punishment". It is so much fun to pun the food angle. I hope I live long enough to write "Tequila Mockingbird"!

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

Thanks for the post. Titles do come from many sources. My culinary mysteries are the easiest. In fact, I have several dozen titles I'll never live long enough to write. The one coming out first is "Mission Impastable" and the second book is "Prime Rib and Punishment". It is so much fun to pun the food angle. I hope I live long enough to write "Tequila Mockingbird"!

Patricia Gligor said...

I like the titles for my books to have a double meaning whenever possible. For example:
In "Mixed Messages," Ann lives with her alcoholic husband who is sometimes the sweet man she married and, at other times, a cruel stranger. She gets mixed messages from him. And, when the love poems she's been receiving anonymously are followed by threatening biblical quotes and someone leaves a tombstone with her name on it in her church's cemetery, she is terrified of what those mixed messages might mean.

jrlindermuth said...

I like it best when a title pops up from within the story. Sometimes (as is the case with one sitting in the computer now), getting the right title is harder than writing the book.

Lesley Diehl said...

I like crazy sounding titles. For my Big Lake msytery series, I try to concoct titles that are humorous and fit the story line. DUMPSTER DYING was easy because a body is found in a dumpster. GRILLED, CHILLED AND KILLED comes from a body in a beer cooler truck at a barbeque festival. For my third, I'm thinking SCREAM MUDDY MURDER because it features mud bog racing events and a body, well, parts of a body of course.

Wendy Jones said...

I think of titles and then run them past my aunt who is an avid reader of murder mysteries and one of my beta readers. I went through several titles before we were both happy with the final result. Very interesting knowing how you came up with yours. Thanks

Kathy Bennett said...

I had such a hard time coming up with the title for my book currently on submission, A Deadly Justice, that I've got tentative titles for my next four books all lined up.

Now, if it will that easy to come up with the stories!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you, everyone for your great comments. This was fun.

Carolyn J. Rose said...

Most of my titles come from what's going on in the book and the theme of the story. A recurring theme of Through a Yellow Wood is that there's almost always a choice of paths to follow. That made me think of Robert Frost's wonderful poem about the roads diverging in the yellow wood.

Janet Greger said...

Has a publisher ever changed your title? Many author talk about title changes at the last minute.
JL Greger

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Janet, the very first book of mine that was published--1982-I titled Indian Paintbrush-the publishers changed it to Trail to Glory (their title had nothing to do with the book.)

thoniehevron said...

My first book was self-published last June. I named it "By Force or Fear" as this is an element of the precipitating crime of stalking. The sequel is about a kidnap and called, "Intent to Hold". Both are taken from the California Penal Code. My third book will deal with a marijuana grow in the remote hills of Sonoma County. I'll find something from the Health and Safety Code for that one.