Recently, I was looking at the selection of large print novels in my local library (yes, I have older eyes and appreciate large print). My gaze lingered on a novel entitled THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE. The title interested me. So I took the book out and read it.
It is a rather long, complex novel, and reminds me of THE THORNBIRDS in many respects--although this is apparently planned as the first in a trilogy. The novel begins in 1900 in
, and involves Kitty Deverill, an
Anglo-Irish girl who falls in love with Jack O’Leary, a Catholic. West Cork, Ireland
Their star-crossed love story ends in 1925 but will obviously continue in the second book in the series. The novel is engrossing and well-written, has many characters and much Irish history.
When I selected this book at the library, I thought I was choosing a book that was on the bestseller list. After I rechecked the list I discovered the novel I was thinking of was in fact entitled THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE set during World War II. I have no regrets that I read THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE and will request the other novel at a later time. However, the incident made me think of how confusing titles can be for readers and how difficult they are to choose for authors. And so I decided to share my thoughts.
I believe that a well-chosen title helps to sell a writer’s work. The first impression a book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title. The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether an author writes literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc., the title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully feel cheated.
I have a few suggestions for fellow writers that I believe might prove useful:
First suggestion is to do some initial research. For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.
Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in some way.
Next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word choice. Maybe it represents a reoccurring symbol in your book.
Another suggestion: keep your title short if possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice. For example, the title of one of my YA novels is STACY’S SONG. Just two words. Appropriate because it’s a coming of age/romance. Enough said.
Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. Example: for the third novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series I used the title THE TRUTH SLEUTH. Kim is an amateur detective and also an academic librarian. So the title fits the main character. The whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully makes the title stand out. In my romantic short story collection, BEYOND THE BO TREE, I used alliteration.
Are there any titles that stand out for you? If so, which ones? Why? Comments welcome!