Superhero Nation and TheNewHero wrote: What makes a title effective? They usually connect emotionally with readers (Heart of Darkness, Return of the King). Some may suggest an unusual premise or plot, like His Majesty’s Dragon or Superhero Nation. Others suggest an unusual reading experience (Barbara Bloodbath or Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space). Building Emotional ConnectionsIf your title doesn’t affect your reader, he will put your book down. How can you make your title more powerful?Brainstorm a list of nouns that relate to your book– generally, effective titles depend on forceful and evocative nouns. For example, if you’re writing a book about a rebel, The Rebel would probably fail because it’s boring. What else is in your rebel book? Let’s say the rebel’s personal growth is an important theme. The Rebel’s Growth doesn’t work either, so let’s try using a thesaurus. Growth is a synonym of rise, which is a synonym of ascension. The Rise of the Rebel and The Rebel’s Ascension are both pretty strong.Tell me, what would you choose: Being the Leader or Mein Kampf (Which in English mean My Struggles). Even though Mein Kampf was written by one of the most hated people in history, Hitler himself, it is a very gripping title. He's not asking for you to listen to his success, or how he hates any non-Aryans. No, this title is basically saying: Come listen to all I've struggled through. My life wasn't all dandy you know.(Additionaly, you could tweak the title to be The Rebel's Rise or Rise of a Rebel. As you will see below, that can have a huge impact) Word Choice:Slight changes to your title’s structure can hugely affect its emotional impact. For example, The Return of the King is a great title, but The Returning King is absolutely awful. The words are the same, but the rhythm and style have changed.You can also try tweaking your word-choice. “Return” and “King” both have great, robust sounds and flair. By contrast, “Homecoming of the Monarch” is lousy. Even though the literal meaning is identical, the sound is off. In addition to the sound and style, word-choice can also affect the mood and feel of the title. For example, His Majesty’s Dragon is different than The King’s Dragon because HMD suggests that the dragons are like the British navy, His Majesty’s Ships. Just from the title, you can tell that HMD has a lot of historicity and realism (except for the dragons, obviously). Made up Words and Titles (and character names e.g Percy Jackson):Some works, particularly sword-and-spell fantasies, make the huge error of using a made-up word in the title. C.S. Lewis did not name his book The Chronicles of Narnia (The Series was Chronicles of Narnia, the books had their own titles like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Horse and His Boy). His prospective readers haven’t heard of Narnia and won’t care about it. **Nothing is less likely to emotionally affect a potential reader than a word he hasn’t seen before.** Place-names are particularly weak. Character names are reasonably weak. As a rule, most character names are not strong enough to intrigue potential readers. (There are some exceptions, like Barbara Bloodbath).Character names usually work better in chapter titles. By the time your readers are reading the chapter, they will have some emotional investment in the character. Something like “Paingod, Humanitarian” might intrigue you if you already knew that Paingod isn’t human and is humanitarian mainly as far as he’s not vegetarian. As a rule, character names that can interest prospective readers are typically a bit sinister and exotic (like Barbara Bloodbath, Paingod, Saddam Hussein, etc.) In contrast, names like Harry Potter are usually too boring to entice readers. Suggests an Unusual PremiseThere are two main reasons you would use a title to suggest your premise or plot.One, your premise is so cool and fresh that it sells itself, like His Majesty’s Dragon.Two, your premise is odd enough that you need to reach for a niche market. For example, Superhero Nation is targeting a specific niche of superhero-fans.So why Superhero Nation? Nation suggests the book’s scope. Most superhero novels focus on a single superhero or a team of superheroes, usually working in a single city (usually NYC). We’re selling a nation, with rightwing nutjobs, pinko commies and at least one scientist transformed into a Pokemon-parody. “Nation” also sounds tough and more refined than “country.” (Once again, YWSers, word choice!) Suggests an Unusual Reading ExperienceIf you have something like Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space lying around, go for it! If you’re not at that level of style, a more conventional title will probably work better. Saddam Hussein is an extraordinarily eye-grabbing title, but that creates tremendous audience expectations of extraordinary writing. (Is it possible to write a book called “Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space” that satisfied our expectations? Probably not).This kind of title is more prevalent in children’s literature. If your audience is older, a conventional title isn’t much of a liability. Arouses Curiosity (Makes Reader Asks Questions)This is another unconventional, risky approach. If your title makes your readers curious enough that they open the book, great. The key is giving them enough to wonder. So You Want to be a Honey Master works only if readers wonder what a Honey Master is. What about The King’s Death? Most readers probably won’t care who the King is or wonder why he died. Giving us more information might draw readers into the story. For example, The King’s Dead (but it was an Accident) is probably a winner.
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