Writer Tips on How to Choose A Captivating Title

The title of a book is important; it has the capacity to entice your audience, or have them reject it simply because it did nothing to intrigue them. I don’t know about you, but I find choosing the right title a nightmare. In this post we’re going to offer some tips on how you can hone your choices and captivate your audience with a just a few words.

how to choose a captivating title

Finish your WIP: Sometimes the title simply comes to you, a miracle gifted from the literary gods. If this happens cherish it and continue onwards in your writing journey. However, this is rare! Often you’ll need to finish writing the novel before you can look back and reflect upon the story.

Do your research: Look up other titles in your genre. Not only will this give you a clue as to what works, but it will also tell you your choice is already taken. There’s nothing more disheartening than having an excellent title in mind, only to discover it’s already in use within your genre. Not the smartest move, especially if the other author is a runaway success.

It’s all in the name: You may choose to use your main characters name as a title, like the famous Harry Potter. Perhaps you could use their mythical heritage, like The Hobbit. Or name it after the place they visit or live in, like Caraval, and if you haven’t read any of these magical series yet, I highly recommend you do.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Get poetic: Use alliterations, internal rhymes, slant rhymes and poetic prose. Listen to lyrics, pay attention to movie lines and don’t be afraid to play around with words. Be careful not to copywrite, but you’re an artist, so have fun and get creative.

Themes: Once you’ve finished your book you’ll get a clear picture of the themes, key events, and any related words. Check out my post on defining themes in your novel for more clarity on the subject. Using a single word as your title can be evocative and punchy, try an adjective, a noun, or a verb to sum up the actions or feelings of the book.

Characterisation: Take a closer look at your main characters, what are their key traits and how do they correlate to the story, and to each other. Then use them as a title, this is how I named my second WIP Mischief and Mayhem, click on the link to find out more about that work.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Key phrase: There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a novel and coming across a sentence that encapsulates the story or characters and relates to the title. Pay attention when writing or editing, and pick out any phrases that could work as a title. Perhaps a resonant, unusual phrase carries meaning for your work.

Check out a thesaurus: Maybe you’re close, you understand your character and have pinpointed the themes. You’ve loads of ideas, but something is not working and the words land flat. Try using a thesaurus to mix it up a little. Word to the wise, be sure to check each word in the dictionary for clarification, otherwise you could end up with a title that makes little sense, and worse still, has no relevance to your story.

Fantasy writer Lorraine Ambers blog banner

How did you come up with your title? Please share your experience, it’s fascinating to know how other writers make their choice. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

20 thoughts on “Writer Tips on How to Choose A Captivating Title

  1. The title is something I always struggle with 😦 I usually go with something that I *think* will tell the reader something about the story, but I definitely need practice. I’ll need to bookmark this post.

    PS: so cool to see that thesaurus! I have all of them in that series, and I use The Emotion Thesaurus often 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great strategy, it’s also important to pick something relevant to your genre. Agents and editors pulled me up on my novel ‘Secrets and Shadows’ because it sounded like a spy novel. 😔🤷‍♀️

      The emotion thesaurus is my favourite, I think every writer should have a copy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Before you settle on a title find out what titles you like and why you like them. Find out what other authors have done. In my case, Nora Roberts wrote a very simplistic title for a novel. It told you almost nothing of the story but made you pick up the book and read the back cover.

    Movies can help too. I settled on my title after watching “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”.The cottage in the film has a very simple title. A memorable one too. Gull Cottage. I adapted the name to my story and got “Blue Cottage”.

    Look at another medium for inspiration. You never know what you’ll find.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fire Starter

    Titles are difficult. I have a paranormal/horror story that I wrote ages ago. I’ve not done anything with it because I can’t come up with a decent title. But the young adult book I wrote, that was easy. It’s about a young girl in love with a guy who’s a little bit mental. I called this one Love and Aluminum Foil Hats… Now I just need to publish it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Once I’m sold on a title it’s locked in. it’s as if the characters all gave the nod okay.

    The title of my first novel – Dempsey’s Grill – came to me immediately. I don’t know why but it stuck. I knew it belonged.

    My current WIP is Saving Iris. Spoiler alert: Iris dies within the first 20 pages so why is it called Saving Iris? I liked it, it worked and the characters agree.

    Sometimes it all comes down to a feeling that we just can’t explain.

    Liked by 1 person

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