On [ Fantasy ] Titles – Olive

Of all the things we have to do as writers to become authors, there are few things that are as dreaded as coming up with the proper title. As if pitching, querying and writing synopses wasn’t bad enough, how you do you boil down  127,000 words to less than a sentence? One word? Three words? Six?


(In my book club, The Nerdery Book Club, We Need to Talk About Kevin was mentioned, and that’s the longest title I’ve seen in a while, but here’s a list of some other long ones.) (Also, we’re talking about fiction, so don’t jump on me about self-help books and the like; I know they have long titles.) (Sorry, I’m an attorney—I love caveats!)

It’s not hard to understand why a great title is important—we’re superficial creatures and judge things by appearance and quick glances. And when it comes to examples of good titles, I keep seeing the same ones over and over again: The Witness, Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Brave New World, Pride and Prejudice, Daughter of Smoke and Bone,  Game of Thrones, Feast for Crows, etc.

Poking around on the Internet will get you very similar results on how to chose a title for your book that I won’t rehash. As the internet does, it often comes up with lists like:

And there’s even this rather vague list on She’s Novel. I’m so glad they told me I might find inspiration in the shower—clearly, these people don’t know me. I find constant inspiration in my shower thoughts. Doesn’t everybody?

But we’re specifically looking for a title for our fantasy story. Perusing goodreads fantasy titles, I noticed a common theme for the titles. The titles are chock full of titles like these: ____(royal) of ____ or dragon-something. And good lord, Mark Lawrence. You do love the former (ex. Prince of Thorns/Fools, King of, Emperor of…Sheesh).

In our story, however, there is a monarchy, but none of the characters have anything to do with those people. The royalty is more like setting rather than characters.

There are some websites dedicated specifically to fantasy title suggestions too:

Our gripe with our current title, CHAINED, boils down to…neither one of us likes it. Simple.  We dislike it so much that Aristen has mentioned she avoids saying the title. I think it sounds a little BDSM-ish, personally. We made it up so we’d have something to call it as a placeholder. I think both of us were also resigned because we couldn’t come up with a replacement.

Our gripe with our current title, CHAINED, boils down to…neither one of us likes it.

So what have we done about it?

I, of course, took the time to research (and I found a lot of lists as seen above). And Aristen and I brainstormed as we worked on revising the query we have for CHAINED [working title]We also made a long list that we’ve been whittling down over the past few weeks. Currently, I believe our list has about ten potential titles.

We have considered a City of _____, and a title that starts with “of” such as Of Shadow and Gold or Of Gold and Fire, which are references to events and items in the story line.  We really like how these two titles sound off the tongue.

But our novel is character-driven. While the plot-line is fun and complex and there are a myriad of other interesting, deep characters (not tooting my own horn here, this is what our editor said!), the draw (again, according to our editor, not us), and why she breezed through the book, is the transformation and journey of the two main characters, Astara and Dahlia. The current front-runner title is a “____ and the ____” sort of title with the two blanks being references to our two main characters.

Of course, as mentioned by more than one blog, the name could be changed by an editor *WHEN* we sell our book to a publisher too. So, when choosing a title, try not to debilitate yourself with doubt (I’m still ahead of the game). It’s a working title until it’s not working anymore, right?

Or we could just use the Random Fantasy Novel Title Generator for this and the next five books. YAY! Problem = Solved. 🙂

One Comment Add yours

  1. Titles are tough! Whenever I have trouble picking a title, I make a list of possibilities (no matter how generic or awkward they sound) and after staring at it for some time, I usually find that one of the listed titles appeals to me more than the others, or I manage to combine two awkward titles into one that works.

    Personally, of the titles mentioned in this post, I like “Of Gold and Fire”. It might be a teeny bit generic, but it sounds nice. Short and memorable.


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