En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part Two)

First, here are the answers to last week’s questions:

Name That Tone!

The Boneman’s Daughters–chilling

Redeeming Love–romantic

The Shunning–Amish

The Riddlemaster of Hed–fantastical

A Vase of Mistaken Identity–whimsical

Without a Trace–suspensful

Three Weddings & a Giggle—humourous and romantic

Name that Genre!


Sister Chicks Down Under—witty women’s fiction

The Lightkeeper’s Ball—historical romance

Deadly Pursuit—suspense

The Twelfth Prophecy, A.D. Chronicles—biblical fiction

Okay, now, on to Tip #3 for crafting strong titles. As USA channel puts it, Characters welcome! Ever and always, Keep Your Characters in Mind. Sometimes the best title for a book focuses on the character. But not just on the name, though that can work well. You can also base a title on your character’s:

  • Personality
  • Personal struggle
  • Conflict with other characters
  • Lesson learned
  • Nickname
  • Nationality
  • Flaw
  • Physical characteristics
  • Occupation or calling

…and so on. Look at all the facets of your character to see if there’s something that would lend itself well to an eye- and imagination-grabbing title. Also, remember that these kinds of titles can often lead to wonderful designs.

Also, remember that your location can be considered a character as well. Certain regions, states, or countries tend to have personalities, so to speak. Build on that for a title that creates the image of your story before the reader has even hit page one.

Some examples of character-based titles:


Magdalene (interesting that they chose Magdalene rather than Mary Magdalene. Used the far more negative/emotional portion of the name for the title)

Rachel’s Secret

Here Lies Arthur

Ruby’s Slippers (outstanding cover art enhances the name and tongue-in-cheek connection to Wizard of Oz. See below!)

Physical Characteristic

The Eye of Jade (cover design played off this title beautifully. See below.)

The Face

The Bluest Eye

Character’s struggle or “state”

A Bride in the Bargain

Daughter of Liberty


Snow Angel


The Duchess & the Dragon (gives you a strong sense of the heroine and hero, right up front)

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes (this title uses location as well)

That Certain Spark (the cover art is what makes this title so effective! See cover below.)

Location as a character

The Shack

What the Bayou Saw

Savannah from Savannah (wonderful mix of name and location)

Texas Angel


Guardian of the Flame

The Alchemist

The Night Watchman


Any others you can think of to illustrate this tip?






11 Responses to En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part Two)

  1. Avatar
    Sandra Ardoin August 24, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I love the title of C.J. Chase’s new novel Redeeming the Rogue. It gives us insight into the hero and the romance. The term rogue also makes me think it’s a historical–which it is.

  2. Avatar
    V.V. Denman August 24, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    The current title of my current wip is Pierce My Ear. Taken from scripture and describing the heroine’s spiritual journey. Does that work … or is it just weird?

    • Avatar
      Peter DeHaan August 24, 2011 at 6:55 am #

      “Pierce My Ear” is a title that would grab my attention. It works for me — and is a bit weird, too, which is why it works for me.

    • Avatar
      Faith Bogdan August 24, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      I think it works. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Rick Barry August 24, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Classics from the past have used these approaches with great success. Here are some quick notables…

    Pilgrim’s Progress
    Don Quixote
    Robinson Crusoe
    Gulliver’s Travels
    David Copperfield (not the magician 😉
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (symbolism in that moniker)

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    The Red Badge of Courage

    The Great Gatsby

    Physical characteristic:
    The Hobbit

    Well, too many to list in one lifetime. But you’re certainly on target, Karen. You’ve assisted in my own brainstorming lately. Thanks!

  4. Avatar
    Faith Bogdan August 24, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I would love opinions on two title options for my book:

    “Oops, I’m a Mom! –Falling in Love with the Children Who Fell into Your Lap” (subtitle open to change)


    “Who are All These Children and Why are They Calling Me Mom?”

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Avatar
      V.V. Denman August 24, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      I like the first one. It gives me a clear idea of what the book is about, and it sounds light and humorous. From the title, I’d guess the book would help me deal with my life while helping me laugh at it too.

      I like the second title too, but it sounds vaguely familiar. Don’t know why.

  5. Avatar
    Faith Bogdan August 24, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for your input! The second one should be familiar; it’s on wall plaques and coffee mugs. But my publisher seems to think it’s fair use. I’m leary of using something not original. I like the first one too. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Eugene Scott August 26, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Karen: Thanks for good insight on titles. Your list was very practical and fun.

    It was good to hear your voice (so to speak) and see your face again. We met several times when you were speaking at Norma Jean Lutz’ Professionalism in Writing conferences in Tulsa in the mid 90s. I helped Norma Jean put a couple of them on. I was the chaplain. I was also leading the Tulsa Christian Writers’ Group at the time and a pastor at Kirk of the Hills.

    Of all the editors/writers I met at those I still remember how challenging–and delightfully off kilter–and full of grace your thoughts and ideas were.

    Thanks for being an encouragement back then and still.



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