Jul 16 2008

How to Write Titles

Published by at 9:57 pm under Art,Titles,Writing Articles

This article gives nine tips to writing a title that grips readers and sells your book.

1. Tell us enough about the book to make us want to read it.This is what separates bland, forgettable titles like The Dragon from classics like His Majesty’s Dragon. The more we can surmise about the plot, the better.

2. Do not use imaginary place names.Readers haven’t heard of Asgardia, Lukawanda, or whatever your fictional kingdom or city is called.Your invented words won’t interest us because they don’t mean anything to us.I think the place names most appealing to prospective readers are those that use English words, like the Temple of Doom. We can guess what a temple of doom is.

3. Avoid character names.For example, I once saw a story named Ekwamedha’s Children. I have no idea who Ekwamedha is.Why should I care about him?A character’s name will be the weak point of the title, unless the name is so well-constructed that it has an immediate emotional impact.The only timeI can remember it actually working is Barbara Bloodbath. (I like the Harry Potter series as much as anyone, but I think the lackluster title Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the reasons it initially floundered).

4. If you refer to a character, we will learn more if you give us the character’s profession rather than just his name.Compare Ekwamedha’s Children (above) to The Chieftain’s Children.Giving us the profession means you can cut out an imaginary word from the title.It will also make it easier for readers to determine whether they are interested.

5. One-word titles are generally ineffective.Your readers are patient enough that they will easily make it through three or four words.By adding a few words, you can tell us more about the plot and come off as less cheesy and formulaic (like Trapped, Them!, and Prey).

5.1. Acronyms generally make for weak titles. In your titles, please pick every word carefully not because they have the first letter to make an acronym. If your target audience is older than 13, this could be fatal.

6. If you use an [adjective] [noun] title, the adjective has to be unusual.Compare The Green Dragon or The Tough Barbarian to The Hudsucker Proxy or The Homicidal Toaster.

7. Do not use any acronyms that readers will not understand. As far as titles are concerned, acronyms are the most dangerous kind of imaginary word.

8. If possible, identify any element of your story that sells itself. It’s fairly cliché for stories to use high-selling words like dragon, vampire and magic in the title.Many readers will give your story a closer look if you advertise that it has a plot element they are fond of.Even though this is cliché, I recommend using it if you are writing to sell. But keep in mind that you still have to distinguish yourself from other vampire or dragon stories.

9. The title absolutely has to be written for the benefit of prospective readers. If your title only makes sense to readers after readers have finished the book, it’s a poor title. If your title doesn’t wow readers that are completely new to your work, no one will figure out how witty your title was because no one will actually read your book.

10. Contrasting elements are another way to spark the imaginations of readers.

  • Would you rather read “King Arthur and Excalibur” or “Two Firemen and Excalibur”?
  • “Saddam Hussein and Kuwait” or “Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space”?
  • “How Cinderella Met Prince Charming” or “Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming“?

When you use unexpected elements together, it makes readers wonder more about how the story will tie them together.  In contrast, if the elements of the title interact in boring ways, like King Arthur and Excalibur, then the story will probably sound boring.

490 responses so far

490 Responses to “How to Write Titles”

  1. Ragged Boyon 23 Nov 2008 at 4:31 pm

    What did you guys do with your naming chapters section? I can’t find it anymore. I’m just going to post this stuff here. These are some chapters in my story, I’m kind of going off the top of my head, but I think I’ve got the beginning skeletized.

    The Daily Routine- Don’t think this starts off like “I got up, took a shower, ate breakfast etc”. It’s more so Adrian describing his hectic way to school, leaving the house an hour early to catch the crappy monorail, walking about a mile (of crude shortcuts), hopping fences, and running from dogs. I was going to use this chapter (and possibly the next) to establish the mood. Adrian would describe the dirty streets, murder scenes, and violent drama he passes frequently. I’d also use this chapter to establish Adrian’s undauntable positivity despite being in poverty.

    A Haven in Hell- Hell referring to Adrian’s school, his haven being his friends in drama club (a few of which will be in the contest). Adrian’s personality is the highlight here. He goes throughout his school day encountering bullies, bitchy teachers, and the atmosphere of the school. Drama club is interrupted when a group of gang members break into the auditorium and start hassling one of Adrian’s friends over a bad drug deal. A fight breaks out and one of the boys is killed, and all the kids scattered being chased by the thugs. He is chased into a part of the city that is unknown to him, but he escaped.

    Were Those Tentacles?- After his chase Adrian wonders around the dark inner- city. In an vacant lot, he sees a strange looking “car” and two guys with tentacles on their faces arguing. Adrian hears bits of the conversation, he hears that this city is the ideal place and that it would drastically alter the city. Adrian thinks it’s a plan for an alien terrorist attack. When the aliens leave they leave a “survey stake” that Adrian takes, alerting the alien counci l(but this is learned later, it’s first person so he wouldn’t know). He gets home late and describes a little of his home life (but this isn’t the chapter highlight).

    That’s the very beginning, I’d post more but I’m blanking right now. I’ll be able to come up with stuff once I write those three chapters out. Basically, Adrian tries to tell people about the events, they think he’s crazy. About the fifth chapter, mass alien contact begins, Adrian is one of the first contacted having the alien stake. Adrian is terrified, Jimelly having Adrian trapped in a water prison tells him about the upstarting contest and gives him an invitation to apprenticeship. Adrian absolutely refuses, Jimelly lets him go but bus him so that he can track him, an aspect of his eccentricity. Something dramatic happens in Adrian’s life causing him to go back and accept Jimelly’s offer, by now Jim has already recruited his competitors but allows Adrian in as the last of his students. This is were the contest begins and Adrian goes into training.

    Suggestions? Opinions?

  2. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I think the article you’re referring to is here. I’ll look at this after the Cardinals game.

  3. Ragged Boyon 23 Nov 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t break it up more.

  4. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Here are some quick thoughts before the Colts-Charger game (have you noticed that I rarely post very much on Sundays? Heh heh).

    The Daily Routine sounds kind of boring (like “I got up, took a shower…” as you put it). Now, it may not actually be boring, but I think readers would be more likely to give your book a chance if the first chapter sounded more interesting. Something like “Smiling in the Ghetto” may be a more stylish way to convey what you’re looking for, I suspect.

    A Haven in Hell sounds OK. I worry slightly that some readers may take “hell” literally, but hopefully that will be minor. More substantially, I’d recommend removing Adrian’s drama-club friends from the magical contest. First, it will seem contrived that the aliens just happened to pick one or two of Adrian’s friends out of the millions of people in the city. Second, it raises geeks-vs-the-world concerns like Soon I Will Be Invincible suffered from (well, drama guys in this case, but you get my point hopefully). The worst-case scenario is that some readers feel you’re a disgruntled drama guy writing to express your anger at all the other students (jocks especially?) I got a bit of that vibe off SIWBI. However, I like that he runs away into an unknown part of the city.

    I’d recommend changing “Were Those Tentacles?” to make it something other a rhetorical question.

  5. Ragged Boyon 23 Nov 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Okey Dokey!

  6. Ragged Boyon 23 Nov 2008 at 6:33 pm

    I’m doing my stupid homework on single sex schools, it’s extremely difficult to find an unbiased recent article on the matter. Stupid AP Language!!

  7. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Let’s see. I’ll suggest two sources… This New York Times article strikes me as pretty easy to read, although it’s probably longer than you need or want.

    I also have a more geeky and convoluted source that is probably better suited for a college term paper. However, I’d be willing to walk you through it so you could decide whether or not you’d like to use it. You can see the article here, but the main point that you’d probably draw on for your research is this table.

    Even the table might be hard to read, so let me try to decipher it with you. They considered a number of studies that looked at how same-sex education and co-education stacked up on different measures of performance. For example, 9 of those were about “All-Subject Achievement Test Scores.” Of those nine, six (67%) found that same-sex education (SS) had a favorable outcome on ASATs. One found that coeducation (CE) had a favorable outcome and two studies found that neither SS nor CE affected ASATS very much. (That’s a null result).

    So, if you were going to look at these results in a broader way, you could draw conclusions like this. If you wanted to argue that same-sex education improved the performance of students, you could say something like this. “Of the 43 studies on academic accomplishment surveyed by the Department of Education, 15 showed that same-sex education had a positive impact on student performance and only 1 showed that coeducation was superior.”

    Alternately, if you wanted to argue that coeducation was superior (or at least not worse), you could spin your results like this. “When the Department of Education surveyed 43 studies on academic accomplishment, only 15 found that same-sex education had a positive impact on student performance.”

    But I wouldn’t stress out about this very much. Like I said, I wouldn’t expect the average college graduate to be able to understand this stuff, so I am completely confident that your teacher would be OK with simpler sources like the New York Times article I linked to above. Maybe even simpler.

  8. Lellon 02 Dec 2008 at 2:59 pm

    3. Avoid character names. For example, I once saw a story named Ekwamedha’s Children. I have no idea who Ekwamedha is. Why should I care about him? A character’s name will be the weak point of the title, unless the name is so well-constructed that it has an immediate emotional impact. The only time I’ve seen that actually work is Barbara Bloodbath.

    Emma, by Jane Austen. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. David Copperfield. Nicholas Nickleby. Oliver. Branwen Urech Lyr. Anna Karinina. Marley and Me. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Jane Eyre. It. Cujo. Damia. The Rowan. Damia’s Children. Babar. Hell, Dracula. A Rose for Emily.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that I respectfully disagree.

  9. Bretton 02 Dec 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Notice that those are professional writers, not amateurs. People probably read those books because they were familiar with the author already. Amateurs have NO reputation, so that won’t happen. Exception: Frankenstein, but this was written in a period where books were rare and people were less likely to screen books by what titles seemed interesting. Point is, these are different times. People won’t waste time with a boring/meaningless name. At the very least, I wouldn’t.

  10. B. Macon 02 Dec 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I notice that the titles you selected tended to date prior to the 20th century. I don’t think that Anna Karenina, say, would be an effective title now. Some modern titles use character names, but you probably have better alternatives for modern audiences.

    Among the fantasy titles I can think of that used names well, usually the names were used to supplement a longer title. For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone* is OK, but just Harry Potter wouldn’t have had much curb appeal. If the character’s name is actually flavorful, it might have curb appeal. Barbara Bloodbath, for example. But generally I’d recommend that a beginning author avoid using names because he would probably be putting himself in a very difficult position.

    *That was the original US release title.

  11. Lellon 02 Dec 2008 at 8:37 pm

    While on the one hand, you have a point — most of those books are old, they’re established, and very few of us read them outside of school. They’re classics for a reason, though. They’ve stood out. And yes, I agree, none of those authors are considered amateurs now. But everybody has to start somewhere, even those guys. So don’t discount your choices.

    I guess what I’m saying is I was providing a counter-point to show that there are a wealth of options out there, not just Barbara Bloodbath.

    Which, frankly, sounds like a bad snuff-film. As the acronym goes, YMMV.

    (I KNEW I should’ve looked up the spelling of “Karenina.” I thought it looked odd. Thanks for saving me that google search at three a.m.)

  12. B. Macon 02 Dec 2008 at 9:16 pm

    I’m also feeling tired. In lieu of an exhaustive survey, I glanced at the New York Times bestseller list for paperback mass-market fiction. Of the 35 titles, none include a character name.

    On the other hand, the New York Times bestseller list for paperback trade fiction has 5 character names among the top 35 titles:

    1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Ranked #6.

    2. Loving Frank [about Frank Lloyd Wright]. Ranked #7.

    3. The Children of Hurin (by JRR Tolkein). Ranked #22.

    4. The Lady Elizabeth. Ranked #24.

    5. Sarah’s Key. Ranked #30.

    I’d discount #2 (because Frank is a real person) and #3 (because an okay or weak title won’t matter much to an extremely well-established author). I was not particularly impressed by #4 or #5, although they sold pretty well.

    I would interpret this as fairly strong evidence that the most effective titles (which correlates with but is not identical to which books sold the most, I feel) generally do not have names. Do you have any suggestions on using names to appeal to modern prospective readers that are not familiar with your work?

  13. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 4:26 am

    Hi, I’m a writer of superheroes. I love the site cause it covers everything from superhero teams to how to make them work.

    Anyways, the title of my story and team is currently Hyper Hero Force. I sent you this a while back and you said I should change it to something more sober sounding. What did you mean by that?

    As alternative names, I’ve got Hero Force, Team Hero, Justice Fighters and Team DCSS (Team D Chain Solar Silence). I personally like Team Hero, but if you can offer any more ideas it would help greatly. Also, your site said you review stories. Could I send in my story for review? Thanks.

  14. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:55 am

    I think Hyper Hero Force sounds a little like something from a manga or anime. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it depends on your target audience. For example, X-Men seems a lot more serious than Hyper Hero Force. X-Men would probably have a higher age group.

    Team Hero could work, but it seems a little simple. Justice Fighters sounds a little like Justice League. What do you think of Team Justice, Justice Force, Solar Justice, or Silent Justice? Silent Justice would be good if they are a bit vigilante, dealing with the criminals themselves instead of handing them over to the police.

    Other options are acronyms, for example CIA means “Central Intelligence Agency”.

    If you ask B. Mac, he can set up a review forum for you. All you have to do is post a little at a time and we will leave comments on the structure and such for you. Most of the regular posters have one. Is this a short story, a book or comic book that you’re writing?

  15. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 6:55 am

    I personally like Justice Force, it sounds authoritative. I also like Hyper Force, but sounds like some type of Power Rangers

  16. B. Macon 26 Dec 2008 at 7:43 am

    Yeah, when I’m suggesting names, it’s very helpful to have a bit of the story in front of me. That helps me gauge the target audience, the mood, the genre, etc.

    As for story reviews, just e-mail one to superheronation[at]gmail[dot]com and we’ll get on it very shortly.

  17. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I have emailed my story to you. I like the names you’ve given me, especially Justice Force. I’m also getting it made into a comic format. Here’s part of it for other people to comment on.

    The story begins in another dimension, with a 15-year old half-human girl getting cruelly beaten again. This is a daily event for her. It had happened from as far back as she could remember, for no reason at all.

    She was barely looked after and her drinking water was a murky brown. The food she ate was cold, brown and in tins with funny sorts of animals on it. Dog food, but she took what she was given and did not say a word. She could not say anything even if she wanted to. She was a mute. Her name was Silence. After the beating that lasted a full two hours, her beaters got bored. After killing her three times her father always brought her back to life to be beaten some more.

  18. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Is this the actual story or a prologue? If it’s the story you probably need to put in present tense.

    I think you could be more descriptive of her beating instead of just saying it, show it. Also, I think her physical appearance can be described in a more subtle way.

    I’m not the best writer, but here goes:
    “The [adjective] man kicked her to the ground violently, crashing the into the wall. She quickly looked up with green tear-filled eyes in fear. He took a lock of her blue hair into his hands, pulling her across the floor. He punched her in the stomach, forcing out a painful retch. “Please, stop” she mouthed forgetting gor a second that she was mute. The guard(?) was only just getting started. The beating went on for another 20 minutes until the beater got bored. He spat at her as he left the dark, confined space.

    She lay there, in desolence, wondering if this would be the fourth time she would going to die from a daily beating. She stared at the dog food and brown water given to her, this was all she had. This was her fate, Silence’s fate.”

    I tried to include everything.

    What do you think?

  19. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 1:10 pm

    The daily beating of a fifteen year-old girl will drastically effect the mood of your story. A publisher may question the marketability of the story.

    [EDITOR: Agreed. I would have tossed the manuscript at that point.]

  20. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Does Silence have any powers?

  21. Holliequon 26 Dec 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Woah, David, I think your readers deserve a bit more description than that. The small portion you’ve just described could easily have been extended into a chapter or more. Also, I think these ogre-things deserve more imaginitive names than “Hack” and “Stab”.

  22. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Umm, well I guess I can work on extending the parts but I don’t personally don’t see what’s wrong with em. Mind you the comic’s already been started, so it could be hard to redo it all. And I liked Hack and Stab. But I dunno. It’s a tough comic world.

  23. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Exactly how far are you into making a comic? If you’re still making the script that can be easily changed, I should know, I’m writing a comic book script too. But, if you mean that production as in art and lettering has started then you’re right.

    I think Hack and Stab are suitable nicknames for your ogres, you could also try Crush and Burn, Rip and Tear, Gore and Maul.

    I’m interested in your comic, could I see some of the script?

  24. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I agree, it is a tough comic world. Generally, it’s a tough literature world as a whole. That’s why I’m trying to stop playing Guitar Hero and get to writing my script. I could be done with it by now.

  25. Holliequon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Oh, wait, you’re writing a comic script? Apologies, in that case. Comic scripts don’t need to be descriptive.

  26. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I think he’s writing both. Comic book script vary by writer, you can be more descriptive than a book i.e. Sandman. Or you can be less descriptive i.e Teen Titans (and most other simple superhero comics).

    I personally choose to be very descriptive about my main characters and such.

  27. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:53 pm

    So I take it that this is the book and not the comic script. This is an ok, action scene.

    By your description of your characters, it seems like they are anime based (a la outrageous hair colors and costumes) that’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. I’m actually a big fan of outrageously stylish clothes.

    Do you have a comic script? It’s ok if you don’t, but you need one if you wanna get published.

  28. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I drew this, I love outrageous outfits, but I prefer patterns and trends as opposed to colors. Also, I don’t draw anime.

  29. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 4:00 pm

    To post a link to your pictures, copy the URL address and paste it in your next comment. It’s easy.

  30. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 4:30 pm

    ok i’ll upload the pic on to photobuket then send the link

    so what do u think of the chraters currently? and with Silence insted of useing speech bubbles iv used barakets for her

  31. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Admittedly, I don’t know much about your characters ad their personality. But I’ll go off wha tI’ve deduced.

    Silence- She seems to have an otherwise lack of personality. She’s curious which is a very fertile trait, but other than that she seems bland. I understand that she’s a little withdrawn, but maybe you could play up her curiousity. Maybe, making her often wonder and mess with things. I think brackets could work, and I suspect that she would use alot of thought bubbles. Maybe giving her telepathy may help you. As for her design, I recommend a more sober hair color, maybe back with a blue shine.

    Chain- He seems like a jerk with a compassionate heart, which is a workable personality. Negative traits are just as important as positive ones. I think his costume could use a little more flair. Maybe, a black leather vest over his red tank. Red and black bots with his jeans tucked into them. Maybe, black arm sleeves to go with his red gloves. With that he’ll have more of a badass look.

    Solar- I don’t really know much about her, except that she’s a girl.

    D- He seems witty and bossy.

    Exactly what do they wear?

  32. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I have a mute character, Lonnie, but she chooses not to speak. She will eventually start, but not until the second book. I’m halfway through the first one.

  33. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:13 pm

    It is now 42777 words long. I’m halfway in the storyline, but after some editing it will probably become about 45000 words. That means 90000 for the finished one, so it’s not bad, especially as I’ve tried and failed to write a book before. I might pick up my old one later, even turn that into a comic.

  34. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:31 pm

    If you need a comic done, I recommend http://www.ifreelance.com. You can pay someone to draw a comic for you. I did, because I can’t draw.

  35. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I have a bunch of stories sitting in my literary scrapyard, but my personal faves are.

    -My aspiring rock band/superhero group.

    -Aadrello’s story.

    Alot, maybe, all of my characters are essentially skinny artists. I’m really not a big fan of muscular characters although I do have them. I just feel that most superheroes are too buff and everyone isn’t buff. I’m an a very adament advocate of the skinny figure. It’s stylish, looks good in alot of clothes, and can fit in small place.

  36. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Dec 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I’m not a fan of overly muscled characters, either. I’ve made Isaac and Tristram quite skinny, but with a small hint of muscle. It’s not good to promote anorexia! Haha. I have a few more muscular characters, like Klemente and Darrick, but no Hulks.

  37. Davidon 26 Dec 2008 at 6:06 pm

    i agree huge muslels are a no no but i like say boxer size so it looks like they work out and that they look normal human lol

  38. Holliequon 26 Dec 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I think huge muscles suits some characters – although admittedly they’re normally villains.

  39. B. Macon 26 Dec 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Hey, David, I gave you a review forum here.

  40. Ragged Boyon 26 Dec 2008 at 8:12 pm

    After you go through some character development, I’d recommend following this format to get your comic script started. A comic script isn’t as fun as writing a book, but it is a necessity if you want to get your comic professionally published.

    Here’s the format a la Darkhorse Comics:

    Lots of writers make slight variations to this format, but they are essentially the same.

    If you need examples of what a completed comic book script looks like, I’d recommend this site:


    Don’t just look at one. Look at a few as different writers differentiate between format and descriptiveness.

    Hope this helps.

  41. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 2:11 am

    sigh and i thought i was doing well oh well up and onwards i’ll start work soon as i get home

  42. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:29 am

    well im make changes as said im putting Valkrigs words in bold insted of caps hope that works i will also work on Silences personality as best i can

    i will say my insperrastion did come from Teen titans

    also what do you mean by cartoonish evil what diffrent evils are there and how can i change it to make him so?

  43. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 6:30 am

    Cartoonishly evil mean that they are evil with no motive. They are evil just for the sake of being evil. I think Hack and Stab could work if they served closely under someone but as of now their personalities are too one-dimensional and to alike to be good villians. As for her father what purpose does he have of bringing her back to life, if he has none then he’s cartoonishly evil. If he needs her becuase she has some special gift or is a prodigy at something that he really need then he is genuinely evil, because he has a reason to bring her back other than to die again.

    I think you’re doing well, I just think you (and I used to do this too) jumped into the story with a hat full of names. Meaning you kind of blew past character development and started the story this is why your characters come off as one-dimesional.

    I think your story sounds interesting, I’d be delighted to help you in personality development for your characters. Let’s start with Silence.

    Follow me, I’m going to character traits.

  44. B. Macon 27 Dec 2008 at 9:17 am

    David, you might also find this article on characterization helpful. How to Develop Interesting Characters Easily.

  45. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 9:51 am

    ok done what you asked (i hope anyways) and to answer your question Valkrig (Silences father) as you know grows weaker the longer he stays on earth but when Silence turns 16 he can sacrafise her in a rituel and gain even more power and keep it in both worlds but he needs to wait till shes 16 and he can sacrafise her with in the year before she turns 17 (hope iv exspleined that well) also Valkrig can only bring her back in his own dimnction

    also this is one one story there are sequels i have four others and im wrighting a fith after that theres one called the Sickness that will have Silence on her on near the end of it fighting her self

    iv also worked outt here fighting styles D uses marshl arts mixed with energy blasts and well thought out moves
    Chains more a street fighter/boxer
    Solar is all about useing her powers she dosent belive shes got gd enough fighting skill

    Silence is more acrobatice with a wepon “i was gonna go with a staff but i think thats to Robin i dunno what you guys think?”

  46. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 10:51 am

    Hmm, there powers are workable, if not a little generic. I think you could play Silence’s muteness into her powers. Because she can’t speak, maybe she has heightened hearing. Maybe you could give Chain an energy chain that he used as a weapon.

    Ok, you’ve told me how they fight, but what exactly are there powers? All I know as of now is that. Chain has superstrength and Silence has super leaping.

  47. B. Macon 27 Dec 2008 at 11:03 am

    Quoting David: “And I thought I was doing well.”

    Don’t get discouraged. I think you have a pretty workable plot. And your characters sound a lot better already. So I think there are only a few barriers between you and getting published. These strike me as very manageable.

    –Fitting the characters into the story. Right now, it seems like the Justice Force characters are a lot more active in this story than Silence. If Silence is supposed to be the main character (and gets important scenes like page 1), that could be a problem. However, I think it would be pretty easy to either turn Silence into a more active character that can handle the spotlight or (easier) make Chain the main character.

    –Getting the story onto a comic book’s pages. The ability to show a story on a page with visuals and the right amount of dialog is usually acquired with a bit of practice. Fortunately, I think this is a skill that is pretty easy to learn. If this is your first comic book, it might take around a month of practice to get to a publishable-grade.

    –Mechanical issues (punctuation, grammar and formatting). In the short-term, you can solve most of these issues by running your script past a trusted proofreader. The mechanics will take longer to learn yourself, but I feel that ultimately it will help you go farther with publishers. Fortunately, I’ve been really impressed by the mechanical improvement of a few of our guests here over the past few months. At first, I was pretty much beating my head against my keyboard when I did editing but since then I several authors have emerged here that could quite plausibly get published.

  48. B. Macon 27 Dec 2008 at 11:20 am

    Hmm. Emoness might be a problem, but I think that his plot adjustments should help fix it. What stuck out to me was that (originally) Silence’s father was torturing her for pretty much no reason. Indeed, the first paragraph went “This [cruel beating] is a daily event for her. It had happened from as far back as she could remember, for no reason at all.” That feels a bit cartoonish. I think that if the level of abusiveness is tied to some goal, it will feel a lot easier to read.

    For example, Maus was intensely violent, but it had two reasons to justify that. 1: It’s based on the Holocaust, so it pretty much had to include a lot of terribly bleak material. 2: The Nazis/cats have some reason to justify their abusiveness to themselves, like the concept of ethnic cleansing. So, in their minds, there was a point. In contrast, in the initial version of David’s work, it felt to me that the villains’ violence wasn’t tied to a particular goal.

  49. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 11:33 am

    Yeah, I’ll tell you straight from this showhorse’s mouth. When I first here I was no punctuation, no grammar, no nothing just over-confident ignorance. I like to think over time I’ve gotten alot better. I still mess up sometimes but hey, kudos for improvement. If I can do it, you can do it too. Hooray for encouragement. Huzzae for motivation.

  50. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 11:34 am

    See I messed up twice in that last post.

  51. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I’d say the reason they beat her up is one for fun and two to stop her wandering around and escaping and having no confidence to do anything. As for powers, I shall list them.

    D has strength of 30 tons, energy and eye beams, his jacket’s molecules have been bonded with electricity making it nearly indestructible. His jacket is slightly magnetic, drawing bullets. It’s also been infused with nanobots, so it can transform into a motorbike. It can be defeated with electricity, or if you can get close enough a knife.

    Chain is superstrong, 20 tons. He’s a weapons guy and drives the car. Apart from weapons, he’s not a tech guy.

    Solar can take in starlight and blast it though her hands and eyes but she can’t store energy. So if she doesn’t have light, she doesn’t have energy. Her irises have turned yellow as a result of this power.

    Silence in blond mode can leap a mile in any direction, lift 15 tons, and run at 100 mph. Her skin’s also slightly bulletproof as far as standard guns go, but she’s still vulnerable to armor piercing bullets. Due to her genes, she’s immune to some diseases and more susceptible to others.

  52. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I think you need to diversify your powers way more. I think one super strength person is enough. I think Chain should be the strong one. Also D’s powers seem a little grab-baggy. I also don’t think their powers need to be specified by exact numbers. What’s fun is what left to the imagination.

    I don’t mean to impose, you can take these suggestion however you wish, but here is what I think would work for your team.

    D- Electricity, magnetic control, intellect, his motorcycle

    Chain-Superstrength, Energy chain (his only tech), and his car

    Solar- Light control when she takes in solar energy, flight.

    Silence- Superspeed, superleaps, immunity, and enhanced durability.

    I think those would make for a diverse and compotent team.

  53. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 1:02 pm

    The way you have it now, D is a more powerful mix between Chain (strength) and Solar (energy). If you left it that way readers would feel that Chain and Solar are inadequate to D so the team would be unbalanced. With my suggestion you’ll have a team that can specialize in different fields.

  54. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Umm ok it’s cool. I meant to say electricity is D’s weakness, not a strength, and Solar can’t fly but I see what you mean.

  55. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 1:48 pm

    No, I was suggesting you give D electricity as a power instead of a weakness. I think you should take D’s and Silence’s strength away and just leave it to Chain. One superstrength character is enough.

  56. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 1:50 pm

    It’s very important that a superhero team has variety in its abilites.

  57. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Well, Teen Titans has two strong superheroes, Starfire and Cyborg. Beast Boy as well, I guess. And Justice League had Superman, the Martian and Wonder Woman.

  58. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 2:11 pm

    True, but JL has seven members, so I think it would be a little more accepted. As for The Teen Titans their superstrength came off as more a secondary ability, I’m more likely to remember Starfire’s, starbolts and flight and Cyborgs sonic cannon and smart, before I remember they have superstrength.

    If you have a four member team and three of them have superstrength as a primary ability it would definitely need more variety. If you absolutely have to have more than one strong character, I think Chain should be stronger than D and Silence seeing as that’s his only power.

  59. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 2:24 pm

    OK, that’s fair enough. Well, to change subjects a bit, how do you start these stories?

    I want to show building animosity between D and Chain. How can I show that? Because I’m doing sequels to the stories and at the end, Chain betrays the Justice Force in a fit of jealousy against D. It looks like D is getting better and better. When D returns, they fight again and they say a lot and kind of fix things. But in the confusion, Silence is kidnapped by Valkrig, who then sacrifices her in the ritual. As she is dying, D manages to heal her. A huge fight ensues between the Justice Force and a new, bigger Valkrig.

    In the end, Silence realizes she’s connected to her father and sacrifices herself to kill Valkrig by jumping off of a building.

  60. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Your questions are contradictary, you ask me how to start the story and then asked me about how to write the end haha. Ok, Starting a comic is very different than a book, many openings that are made for comics can’t be used for book without being weird. Luckily, your writing a comic.

    I read an article that said the two best ways to start a comic are 1)Starting with an action scene. This is a major no-no in books, but is widely accepted in comics. Maybe have Justice Force (without Silence) facing a villian and his henchmen. 2) Starting important dialoque and art. This is trickier, but just as effective. It’s advantage over the first option is that the reader will learn something about what going on in the story early on, even if they don’t fully understand it yet. The trick it to give just the right amount of information, so readers wonder what will happen next, but enough that they know what’s going on a lttle.

    I’d suggest you start with the Force fighting a villian. I think you may need to hold off on D and Chain’s animosity, at least until Silence is with the team and the team has been fully introduced. I think issue two is a good place to start relationships. Issue one should be about getting to know the characters, their origins, and their goals.

    For now I think it’s best you focus on the introduction of the story.

    Question: Do Chain, D, and Solar have alternate identities that go to school and live normal lives? Or are they like the Titans superheroes all the time?

    Giving them alternate identities will probably help you with your story.

  61. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I’m also making a superhero team. Mine is a rock band. It has four member like yours, but I made sure to make their powers not overlap. I was thinking of starting my story with them at a gig and as soon as the show is over, they have to hurry and get suited up to stop a villain. They all have object based powers. I think it’s going to be good.

  62. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Well, Chain’s real name is Edward Fog and Solar’s is Tina Lodge.

    D and Silence don’t have other identities.

    Oh, by the way, I may as well mention that I’m not from the US. I’m from Scotland.

    I was thinking of studying for med school, like Solar. I can add that in to the first story as well. For the artist’s sake, I will need to start with Silence, but I can alter it from the desert onwards.

  63. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Well, I think Scottish people would still like a more relatable character and school is the easiest thing to relate to. Everyone goes to school or has been in school so they know the experience. On the latter, nobody has ever been a teen superhero.

  64. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 3:44 pm

    lol ok anyways i’ll change the interreaction and exstend it at the part when Chain bring Silence home mind you Since they dont were masksa secret identitay is fairly pointless (unless your superman) but going to school would probs still work

  65. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Maskless superheroes really only works when the characters have nothing to lose. If any of your characters have loved ones, they would be at risk because the villian could hold teir familiy hostage. But if Chain, Solar, or D don’t have any family then being maskless could work. However, it could still be a problem if, say, Chain were to get a close girlfriend.

  66. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Well, D can’t remember his family. Silence’s mother is dead and her father is Valkrig.

    Chain’s family is up in Canada. Solar’s family is in California. I was going to say they were murdered by gangsters, but that’s just following everyone so I’ll have them live.

    What you said happened. Chain’s father was taken hostage by a woman named Lady Evil Hand. (Like it? I came up with it myself, lol).

  67. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Ok, that works then.

  68. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Yeah so I shall rewrite the meeting between Silence and the team and extend it too. Oh, by the way, someone said Silence’s sign language ability is too profound, whatever that means. So should I make her miss some words or make some mistakes or both? Or something else?

  69. Holliequon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I think whoever said that probably meant that her grasp of sign language was too good. She wouldn’t have learned any with her father, I imagine, and then she suddenly starts communicating fluently in sign language? This means the other characters would have to know it, too. It might be easier to make her powers some sort of mind-to-mind communication.

  70. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Well, I did say they learned it before teaching her.

  71. Holliequon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Then maybe she picks it up too quickly. It’s like learning another language: unless you’re a genius, you wouldn’t be able to converse with somebody in that language very easily after only a few months. More likely, it would take years.

  72. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Well, you could modify her origin a little. Maybe, she somehow go a hold of sign language books and taught her self in secret, while he was imprisoned by her father. Sense she can’t do anything else in her cell, she just practiced her sign language. That would give you an excuse to make her really good at it. But then others would have to learn it too. I also suggest mind-to-mind communication.

  73. B. Macon 27 Dec 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Yeah, but I think it’s kind of strange that she’d have access to American sign language books in an alien prison. It’s already glaring enough that she’s eating dog food. (Good thing her species knows what dogs are, I suppose).

  74. Ragged Boyon 27 Dec 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Oh, I didn’t read it thoroughly. I thought she was on Earth. Sorry!

  75. Davidon 27 Dec 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Well, ok. I’ll have her grasp the language little by little during the story and sequels.

  76. Davidon 04 Jan 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Well, I’m getting lots of help now from a friend. I’ve made a lot of improvements and I’m really pleased. I’ll show you later.

  77. B. Macon 04 Jan 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Ah, I’m happy to hear that. Let me know when you’re ready.

  78. Davidon 04 Jan 2009 at 7:33 pm

    i’ll ask quickly when a chraters talking they use speach marks and with Silences sign lanughe i use brackets but what do we do for there thoghts? iv put it in italics

    also i was told not to put Valkrigs words in caps as its intrusive (can u exsplain that bit to me plese) so i put his voice in bold just to he stands out more as a scary chrater
    and to answer a question iv been asked before my target audince is the same as teen titans

  79. B. Macon 04 Jan 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Yeah, when a character is talking in a novel, he uses quotation marks. “This is my sentence,” said the speaker.

    In a comic book, there are no quotation marks in a speech bubble. Readers can see the speech bubble, so we know the character is speaking.

    In a novel, I think that brackets are probably not the best way to handle sign language. It sticks out and doesn’t look very attractive. Also, it doesn’t convey the feel of sign language very well. There are two slightly better alternatives, I feel. First, you could treat Silence like a speaker but just give her a different tag. “This is my sentence,” Silence signed. That’s probably the easiest way. Alternatively, you could try having the narrator summarize what she’s saying. For example: Silence signed that this music was terrible. This is not a particularly good sentence, but it’ll probably feel smoother in sentences where her “sign” is actually body language. For example: As D tried to dance to the swaying beat, Silence put her hands over her ears and scowled.

    In a comic book, I think the sign language might be a problem. Typically, when speakers are using a language other than English, they will use brackets with an asterisk to explain that the character is using French or whatever. However, I don’t think that sign-language would naturally work with that. One adaptation I’d recommend making to your comic book is making her a mind-to-mind communicator or taking away her muteness altogether.

    Bolded text is fine in a comic book. I’d also recommend giving Valkrig a distinctive font to show us how scary he sounds. However, I think that bolded text stands out a bit too much on a novel page, so I’d say that using lines of it will probably feel intrusive to your readers. (An intrusive element of the story is one that distracts readers from the rest of the story). For your first draft, I think a good temporary fix would be unbolding his text and using tags that tell us how loudly Valkrig is speaking. For example: “It’s time to die!” he roared. That’s a bit cheesy, but I think it will work for now.

  80. Davidon 05 Jan 2009 at 4:59 am

    Ok, thanks. Oh and you think it’s a problem I’ve put it in America? Some people are like “we don’t talk like that” or such because a habit I have is putting some Scottish phrases in my stories. Do you think it would help if I changed the location?

  81. B. Macon 05 Jan 2009 at 8:16 am

    I didn’t notice many Scottish-sounding phrases, so I don’t think that’s a problem. However, it may help to have one character sound more like a stereotypical Californian beach bum. (See the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or maybe Saved by the Bell). That would help “place” this story.

  82. Davidon 05 Jan 2009 at 9:12 am

    Solar is from California but it’s been years since I’ve seen TMNT or Saved by the Bell.

  83. daisyon 07 Jan 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Is Secrets a good title???

  84. B. Macon 07 Jan 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I don’t think so, Daisy. Secrets doesn’t say enough about the book or why readers should care. Generally one-word titles don’t. What kind of secrets are we talking about?

  85. Cesaron 07 Jan 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I’m new here and I was wondering if “Guardians of Worlds” is a good title?

  86. B. Macon 07 Jan 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I think it’s OK, but it could probably be improved. This is kind of generic.

  87. Lunajamniaon 30 Jan 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Glad you wrote this article. It takes me a long, looong time to decide on the perfect/best title for my books.

  88. Ragged Boyon 30 Jan 2009 at 5:19 pm

    You and me both. Luckily, comics are usually named after the the main hero or group, so that saves me a lot of thinking. Unfortunately for me, shorter comic series usually have a subtitles, so I guess I will have to do a little thinking.

    Don’t worry, B. Mac, Davis, and Jacob are skilled in these kind of subjects, they can offer insight.

  89. Ragged Boyon 23 Feb 2009 at 5:50 pm

    What do you think of “Taking Neon City?”

    The story is like The Warriors, with superpowered teenage gangs fighting for control of a futuristic city.

    Admittedly, I struggle with titles. I also thought of “Crashing Neon City” and “The Ragged Star” (the gang name).

  90. B. Macon 23 Feb 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Of the three, I think I like Taking Neon City best. I’d feel fairly comfortable using that as a series title. There may be a better verb in place of Taking, though.

  91. Tom 2on 09 Apr 2009 at 5:49 am

    For a book, is it ok to use the main character’s name as the title?

  92. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 5:51 am

    I don’t recommend it, unless the character’s name is unusually interesting. If you do use a character’s name, I’d recommend putting in a detail that describes something about the story. For example, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” or “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” or whatever.

  93. Ragged Boyon 09 Apr 2009 at 7:52 am

    Philosopher’s Stone!? I thought it was the Sorcerer’s Stone. 😉

  94. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Apr 2009 at 7:59 am

    It’s the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, but in the UK and Australia it’s called the Philosopher’s Stone. I don’t know why. I guess it falls under the same category as mum vs mom, aluminium vs aluminum and colour vs color.

  95. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 8:30 am

    The US version was released as “Sorcerer’s Stone,” presumably because it had a better rhythm or sounded more kid-friendly than “Philosopher’s Stone.” However, the magical artifact in question has generally been called the Philosopher’s Stone rather than the Sorcerer’s Stone, so that’s what I’m used to.

  96. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 9:01 am

    When it first came out (in the UK) it flopped big time. Then they re-released it, this time putting the author’s name as ‘J.K. Rowling’ as opposed to putting her first name so it wouldn’t scare off the boys. Then they released it in America as Sorcerer’s Stone for a very long-winded complicated reason that boils down to ‘it sounded cooler’.

    Oh, and to Tom 2, I would not recommend using the character’s name as the title. And if you were going to bring up Eragon you should know that when he first released it, he did it independently, that is, without a publisher. A publisher would never have let that slide.

  97. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 9:14 am

    That’s exactly what JK did. And hey, it worked! I think most HP readers have said ‘she’s a girl?!’ at some point.

  98. Wingson 09 Apr 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Nonsense! Girls can write well!

    Besides, I might just use my initials as my penname. I’m guessing there’s a limited amount of time you can cash checks under a nom de plume before people start to suspect you of identity theft.


  99. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 1:01 pm

    It’s not an issue of women being worse authors; it’s mainly an issue of how relatable the author is to the target audience. That applies just as much to males writing for overwhelmingly female audiences (like romance readers).

  100. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Of course girls can write well, but try convincing your average pre-teen to teenage boy that he should pick up a book about an 11 year old British wizard that’s written by a girl. It would be a very wise decision to use your initials when selling your superhero book, as boys will be a large market and you don’t want to lose them at the first sight of a girl’s name.

  101. Wingson 09 Apr 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I’m using my initials at least for How to Save the World. Hopefully this book will be published first, so I can use it as a stepping stone to sell future books (Ex. From the creator of How to Save the World….).

    My more fantasy/romance geared books will probably follow that pattern.


  102. Davidon 09 Apr 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I am still struggling with a title for my story.

  103. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I’d recommend avoiding a feminine name on a military action story; I don’t think that it’s as important for superhero action. Yes, most of your readers will probably be male for a superhero story. But the disparity is less overwhelming. If you’re really concerned, I’d recommend picking a pseudonym that’s gender-neutral (Alex, Avery, Jamie, Tyler, etc). I don’t think that it’s such an intensely masculine field that being female will compromise your credibility. (In contrast, military-action and romance readers tend to have a hard time taking female authors and male authors seriously, respectively).

    However, there is some potential for gender bias, so I think that a publisher would be 100% behind you if you wanted to use a pseudonym or your initials to lessen the gender bias. You’ll probably have an About the Author section that will give away your gender, but readers will only check that out after deciding that you’re worth a look.

  104. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Hello, David. Umm, I don’t think that the title is really important for you yet. I think you’re about 2500 words in, which is about 3% or 4% of the way to a complete novel manuscript. It may be easier for you to do a title when you have more of the story fleshed out.

  105. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 09 Apr 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I plan on using my nickname as a pseudonym. It’s a masculine name, but I don’t mind if readers think I’m a guy.

    I don’t really want an About the Author section; I think I’d leave readers to guess my gender. I’m also a little insecure about my age. I think I’d hide that, too.

  106. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 6:50 pm

    “I don’t really want an About the Author section… I’m also a little insecure about my age. I think I’d hide that, too.”

    I think that your age is a major selling point to readers. After you get published, I don’t think that you gain anything by hiding your age. Before you get published, yes, your age is probably a liability. If you get published, I’d recommend asking your editor what he thinks.

  107. Davidon 18 May 2009 at 10:38 am

    I have desided on a titel!

    It is in big words Cara then in small words under it The Banshee Princess

    so the whole titel is Cara the Banshee princess

    what you think?

    any other suggestions

  108. Wingson 18 May 2009 at 10:44 am

    I’m just going to make like J. K. Rowling for my name. You know, my initials and last name. I’m trying to keep characters balanced so that the books aren’t only geared toward just guys or just girls (ex: In HTSTW, the main character is female, but nearly all of the other main characters and supporting characters are male. In the sequel, Connor is now the main character, and the female characters are now slightly in the majority).

    I don’t know what it is with me and Trios of Villains, but in both books there is one main evil trio (HTSTW: Scarlet/Crimson, Empress and Stonehead; sequel Minutes to Midnight Scarlet/Crimson, Fantasma, and Harbinger. I supposed Pierce and Jazz to an extent could be counted as villains in HTSTW though).

    – Wings

  109. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Jun 2009 at 12:09 am

    I’m going to pull a Lemony Snicket and have my pseudonym be nothing to do with my real name.

    A few posts up, there was a comment about not being able to cash checks for long without being suspected of indentity theft. But isn’t there something on the copyright documents to prevent that sort of mistake? Like:

    “A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket”

    So if the bank tried to contact Lemony Snicket, they would recieve confirmation from the publisher that it is not identity theft. It’d be especially good for a very reclusive author, because banks aren’t allowed to reveal people’s details. So what if one local branch of the Commonwealth Bank knows? They’re not going to say anything.

  110. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Jun 2009 at 12:14 am

    “I don’t know what it is with me and Trios of Villains, but in both books there is one main evil trio”.

    I like having teams of seven:


    I plan on a team of seven or eight villians to face against them, but I only have one of them planned at the moment.

  111. Marissaon 13 Jun 2009 at 12:35 am

    ‘Sentry’ is going to get a horrible rep, after that Superman ripoff by the same name that B. Mac keeps ragging on.

    Then again, I use it too, but SENTRY is the team acronym, not someone’s name… So I think I’m alright.

  112. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Jun 2009 at 5:40 am

    I called her Sentry because it fits with Guardian and Paladin. Kamari, Isaac and Tristram are the three central members of FIGHT (FIrst Generation Hero Team) and are all tied together by blood (Tristram and Isaac are twins, and Kamari gained her powers through a potion made from Isaac’s blood).

  113. Marissaon 13 Jun 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Oh, not saying it doesn’t fit or anything.

    Was just saying… Maybe it’s just me, but it seems almost like naming another fantasy-book character Bella. Bella is notoriously horrible as a character, almost everyone hates her, so even if the name fits and is a pretty name, it’s a bad idea to use it.

    Just my two cents, though. Don’t let me stop you from using it. 😀

  114. Holliequon 13 Jun 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Well, by that logic, naming the wizard protagonist in a series where magic is a part of everyday society that most people don’t see would be a bad idea, too. It worked for the Dresden Files, though.

    My point is, if your story is different enough, then I highly doubt anybody will notice the name. Even if you share it with a character as spectacularly bad as Bella.

  115. Marissaon 13 Jun 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Alright, was just pointing that out, since B. Mac is always on about how bad Marvel’s Sentry is.

  116. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 Jun 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Well, I’ll just have to make sure Kamari doesn’t suck, then. Haha.

    I didn’t know about the other Sentry when I made her up, anyway. It’s more of a nickname for her, because her full superhero name is Sentinel. It’s kind of like Spiderman and “Spidey”. Similarly, Paladin is called “Pal” for short and Guardian is sometimes called Angel. I also added a joke on his real surname. Isaac’s surname is Maehara, but Darrick (a jerk at school) calls him Mayflower. (Even though, according to my research on Japanese Text to Speech sites, it is pronounced My-hara)

  117. B. Macon 14 Jun 2009 at 12:06 am

    “Well, by that logic, naming the wizard protagonist in a series where magic is a part of everyday society that most people don’t see would be a bad idea, too. It worked for the Dresden Files, though.” Dresden Files is the name of the series, not the book. I think that using character names can be effective in a series title. (For one thing, it’s very intuitive for readers). However, character names usually aren’t too effective in book titles. The intuitiveness won’t help you attract new readers, but it should make it a bit easier to convince them to move from book 1 to book 2. (“Hey, if you liked Dresden in book 1, check out his sequel!”) That only works because the readers have a preexisting emotional attachment to Dresden. It mostly won’t work for prospective readers because they don’t know who Dresden is or why they should care about him.

  118. Marissaon 14 Jun 2009 at 11:11 pm

    …B. Mac, I’m kinda wondering where that came from? xD I don’t think that was RW’s context, really, but I may be wrong.

  119. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 15 Jun 2009 at 2:15 am

    Hey, I just realised something:

    Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone (Who’s Harry, and what’s a Philosopher’s Stone?)

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (What’s Azkaban?)

    This is the only series I can think of that used characters names in combination with obscure artefacts and made up place names that has enjoyed much noteworthy success.

    I just thought up another random book title:

    The Bloodthirsty Foal (I’d love to read that! Haha)

  120. Holliequon 15 Jun 2009 at 6:37 am

    A philosopher’s stone is obscure? I thought that most people knew that as one of the goals of alchemy. You know, turns anything into gold and makes you immortal. o.o;

  121. Tomon 15 Jun 2009 at 7:21 am

    Well apparently people in America didn’t know that. In the States its name was changed to ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ to make it sound cooler.

  122. Eren Ramzion 15 Jun 2009 at 7:49 am

    I usually try to pick a cool, catchy title but not just for catchy’s sake, it’s usually tied to the main character or main plot or a key line of dialogue. Like this spy comic I was writing called COLD WARRIOR – the central character is a ex-Cold War era veteran spy pulled out prison to track down his protege gone supposedly wrong. I think it’s catchy but also it’s tied to the character not to mention “Cold Warrior” is the last two words spoken in the story kinda like how “A Dark Knight” is muttered at the end of THE DARK KNIGHT by Commissioner Gordon.

  123. Eren Ramzion 15 Jun 2009 at 7:52 am

    sorry I meant gone supposedly bad not wrong lol.

  124. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Jun 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I knew what a Philosopher’s Stone was, but most people I know had no idea what it was until they read the book or I told them. I read a lot more than the average teenage platypusbear. (I’ve been watching Avatar, haha)

    I don’t know why they dubbed over the dialogue in the movie to change it to the Sorcerer’s Stone. I don’t see why they would have thrown money away so it could sound cool. Besides, “philosopher” is a much stronger and forceful word than “sorcerer”. Warner Bros fails logic forever.

  125. Marissaon 18 Jun 2009 at 2:53 am

    Actually, I think ‘sorcerer’ is a stronger word. A philosopher, in my eyes, sits and thinks and ponders, while a sorcerer is more action-oriented. If it’s gonna be an object of power that the reader should care about, I think Sorcerer’s Stone was the better pick.

  126. B. Macon 18 Jun 2009 at 8:21 am

    Marissa, I agree with you that sorcerer is probably more effective in this case. If you didn’t know what the Philosopher’s Stone is (and most people didn’t), the word philosopher would probably make you think the book is somehow about philosophy. That couldn’t help sales for a children’s fantasy book.

    Also, “sorcerer” suggests strongly that this is a magical fantasy. I read the British version (Philosopher’s Stone) and was thrown off by the appearance of magic 100 pages in.

  127. Tomon 18 Jun 2009 at 8:51 am

    That’s quite a funny story to tell. You were thrown off by the appearance of magic in Harry Potter.

    I understand why BTW, that was a joke. 😛

  128. PolarisSparkon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I’m writing a book which I’m kind of in between the names right now. But the one that seems to be sticking out to me the most is Tempest. Though it’s one word, it’s kind of unusual to most people grabs their attention, plus it describes my superhero’s ability (aerokinesis, the ability to manipulate the air and wind according to the user’s will) pretty easily. Does anyone think that would work, or is it completely boring?

  129. Tomon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Like Shakespeare’s The Tempest?

  130. Davidon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:23 pm

    if you want titels to do with wind heres a few suggestions

    Gale Force
    Blow hard
    Storm on the Horizon
    wind power

  131. Marissaon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:31 pm

    …David, with all due respect, I doubt a book entitled ‘Blow Hard’ will go over well.

  132. FarawaySoulon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:32 pm

    …I’m not sure if “Blow hard” is such a great title. It seems kinda childish and resembles… “Blowhard”, a very boastful or talkative person.

    Tempest sounds good, but you shouldn’t use one-word titles.

    I personally like the sound of [adjective] Tempest. What else comes out in your story?

  133. FarawaySoulon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Hey, you got it before me! :/

  134. Marissaon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Sorry about that? 🙂

  135. B. Macon 16 Jul 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I like Tempest as a noun. But I think that a descriptor or action would help. For example, Tom Clancy had a bestseller with Red Storm Rising, which has a cool feel even though it’s not clear what’s going on. As a brain-storming exercise, I’d recommend starting with a single adjective and then working your way from there.

    David, I’m not sure how well Blow Hard would apply as a title for this. For one thing– and this might be a product of my uncouth imagination– but I feel like it has a strong sexual connotation. That could be very effective if this were a raunchy comedy, but I don’t think this book is.

  136. Kuroon 03 Aug 2009 at 6:21 am

    I’m having trouble coming up with a title for my story. For now, I’m calling it Dusk, but Dusk doesn’t seem like it would get readers very interested in it. My book takes place in sort of an alternate world where humans died out and wolves became the main intelligent species. There is a Pack, the Dusk Pack (hence the temporary title) that is being secretly controlled by a group of demonic wolves, called the White (I’m trying to come up with a better name for them, too).

    The main character and leader of the Pack, Nyx, discovers an injured loner and takes her back to camp to heal. She becomes a member of Dusk, but keeps pointing out the vast differences between Dusk and all the other Packs in the area, which leads Nyx to question what’s really going on. The demonic wolves obviously don’t like this, so they at first subtly (and later, not so subtly) get the loner out of the Pack and have the Pack back under their strict control. It gets rather complicated, but anyways, what sort of title would be best for a story like this? Any suggestions, please?

  137. B. Macon 03 Aug 2009 at 9:39 am

    Just to clarify, this is an action story, right?

    Hmm. Who’s the target audience?

  138. Kuroon 04 Aug 2009 at 9:05 am

    Yes, it is.


  139. B. Macon 04 Aug 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Okay. I think the fact that most of the characters are wolves is unusual enough that I’d recommend mentioning something like “wolf,” “howl” or “pack” in the title. Particularly because this isn’t aimed at kids. (Most stories about talking animals are aimed at 10-and-younger readers… see Redwall, Poppy, Bugs Bunny, etc).

    Maybe something like Howling at Demons or Culling the Pack? What do you think?

    I am not very confident that teens will go for talking animals. The conceit may strike them as childish or goofy. Or possibly even creepy, especially if romance is involved. When you submit to publishers, I’d recommend coming up with some similar examples of books that have worked with your target audience. That will help convince a publisher that characters like these can be relatable and likable to readers like yours.

    I’m sort of drawing a blank. Umm… I suppose The Dragon and The George had a recurring wolf character, but 1) the series is decades old and 2) it probably didn’t sell well enough to entice publishers to try something similar. The Chronicles of Narnia has a few minor animals, but 1) they’re definitely minor and 2) the Narnia books do not strike me as really teen-friendly. Maybe TMNT?

  140. Ragged Boyon 04 Aug 2009 at 2:36 pm

    B. Mac, I’ve sent you the article. I hope you like it. See everyone later.

  141. CarsonArtiston 04 Aug 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Here’s one- I titled my graphic novel “Nicodemus Faust” – against convention that multi-syllable names aren’t the best. It’s just that even though the story is about the people he interacts with, ultimately it is about him.

    I thought about different titles but Nicodemus Faust just rolls off the tongue so nicely. The juxtaposition of the first and last name is intriguing to anyone who realizes it and Faust automatically invokes thoughts of selling your soul due to the famous play/novel.

    The target audience is more of an older crowd who is pretty much done with teeny bopper comics. I’m guessing around 20-35.

  142. B. Macon 04 Aug 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Speaking of plays, that name reminds me of Waiting for Godot. Hmm. It might make the backcover blurb a bit tricky. Readers will probably want to know how the title character ties into the story, and it doesn’t sound like he himself is a main character.

    I think that the Faust angle is effective, particularly with an older audience that is more likely to get the reference.

    Nicodemus strikes me as workable but I don’t think it rolls off the tongue. It doesn’t seem as fun or lively to me as, say, Knicknevin.

  143. CarsonArtiston 04 Aug 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Well, he is the driving force behind all the stuff going on. He is the team “leader” in the way that professor X is sort of. The entire plotline revolves around Nicodemus. Also Nicodemus is a biblical name necessary due to his history in the story. Nicodemus is also not a comical character or “fun” he is actually an anti-hero which would commit murder and deceit if it furthered his masterplan.

    Readers will learn from the first issue how different his relationship is with each hero and how that relationship weaves the heroes purpose into the story of the other heroes. The readers will love and hate Nicodemus both. His motivations arent exactly the clearest at times.

    If the graphic novel works out, I may spin off characters into their own stories later but for now its about this master manipulator and how he directs this team of unsuspecting heroes.

    I say he isnt 100% a main character because he doesnt do any of the battles or go out with the group on “missions” otherwise he is pivotal. Certainly there would be no story at all without his machinations. Its long, but hopefully chapter 1 can show how his influence will work in the graphic novel. In chapter two, you learn how he makes his second hero and he doesnt take any form than his true self , working from his sanctuary.

  144. Kuroon 05 Aug 2009 at 7:34 am

    Hm. . . I’m not particularly fond of titles like Howling at Demons or Culling the Pack. . . Maybe something like The Puppet Pack? That sounds a little. . . I dunno, odd or something. Other possibilities:

    The White Demons
    The Veiled Ones
    The Wolves of Dusk

    What do you think? Any other suggestions?

  145. CarsonArtiston 05 Aug 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Also another name for canines is “Cur” which might be an interesting word to use…

  146. B. Macon 05 Aug 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Hmm. Kuro, I’m not quite feeling The White Demons or The Veiled Ones. I don’t think they make it clear enough what’s going on. The Wolves of Dusk is better, but I would suggest replacing “of Dusk” with a phrase describing something they do.

  147. Kuroon 06 Aug 2009 at 7:51 am

    How about. . . The Wolves of Deceit, or Pack of Lies, since their whole way of life is based on deception? I’ve never been good about coming up with stuff like this. . .

  148. B. Macon 06 Aug 2009 at 11:25 am

    I like Pack of Lies.

  149. HUsheron 10 Aug 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Took your advice, and there’s mainly just one title banging around in my head. The Vampire’s Daughter. I think it works because it means although you can tell the story is about vampires, it also gives a hint of the vampires being less monsters and more characters; if one of them has a daughter, they won’t be a complete bloodsucking monster, right? But, y’know, I’m no expert. Does it work, or will it flop?

  150. B. Macon 10 Aug 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I like it. You might want to replace Daughter with something a bit more specific, though.

    For example, if the goal is develop the vampire as a family man, you might try something like “The Vampire’s Kid.” (That depends on the daughter’s age and the book’s mood, though).

  151. HUsheron 11 Aug 2009 at 6:46 am

    The story’s quite dark and serious, and it’s more about her as a fully grown woman, so perhaps not ‘Kid.’ Hm… guess I could try adding another detail maybe.

  152. B. Macon 11 Aug 2009 at 8:00 am

    Haha, then Vampire’s Kid would not be a good fit. 😉

  153. HUsheron 11 Aug 2009 at 12:52 pm

    xD, well I guess I could try it, just to see the editor’s reaction when he finds out the title.

  154. StarEon 10 Sep 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Um, do “Second Life” or “Second Life in Hell” sound like good titles? That’s pretty much the working title of my novel, but I’m not sure if it gives the right feel, or if it would attract a reader’s attention. Is there some way I can make the title sound more sci-fi/fantasy? I once considered “The Outliers” or “Glitched” for this novel, but I don’t know if those work, either…

    The story revolves around humans caught in the middle of an eternal war between two manmade species of robots – the artificial intelligence master computers known as the COMs, and a species of semi-sentient SpiderBots. They fight each other endlessly because that’s what they were programmed to do centuries ago. In this futuristic time period, the COMs now collect their human soldiers from multiple dimensions because their current world (Cobrenna) is now empty of human life.

    The humans drafted as soldiers are all convicted felons for varying crimes, such as murder, bank fraud, theft, drug dealing, or shop lifting, and these prisoners are all given special powers and armor so they’ll be useful for the “grunt work” in the robots’ eternal war. An “overmind” from the A.I. systems controls the humans like some sort of possession during battle, and they truly are prisoners in this twisted world, with no way of escape.

    The five main characters of the novel are glitched when they get their fighting powers from the COMs, and these glitches give them extra, computer-like psychic abilities. Because of this, the protagonists band together to design an escape route from a prison that seems to have no boundaries.

    Maybe I could mix the sci-fi/fantasy and jail themes into a title? But I just can’t think of anything… I dunno, something like “Five Life Sentences in Robot Hell”, or “I’m a Murderer, I’m a Psychic, and I’m Screwed” LOL. 🙂

  155. B. Macon 27 Sep 2009 at 8:14 am

    I think that Second Life or Second Life in Hell are very problematic because there is a very popular computer program called Second Life. If you use Second Life, I think that publisher’s assistants will naturally assume your work is about online gaming, and will feel very disoriented when it’s actually about a prison.

    I like “I’m a Psychic Murderer and I’m Screwed” but I would not recommend using that sort of corny humor unless it is consistent with the rest of the book. I got the impression that your book was a lot more sober and serious.

    You could also try something like Escape from Robot Hell or Escape from [Interesting Phrase].

  156. Lighting Manon 27 Sep 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Big List Of Random Names

    Requiem For A Life: My Second Life In Hell
    A Prisoner’s Requiem: My Sojourn In Robot Hell
    My Sojourn In Robot Hell
    The Disciplinary: Escape From The Prison Planet
    The Disciplinary: Glitched
    Glitched: Escape From Hell
    Glitched: A Prisoner’s Requiem
    Glitched: The Disciplinary
    Glitched In Robot Hell
    Glitched: This Is Not A Vacation It’s Your Life

    Okay, not a big list, but a list of names all the same.

  157. B. Macon 27 Sep 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Do words like Requiem or Sojourn fit the mood? They feel, umm, very literary and maybe moody. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that the book would be mainly action. If so, I don’t think that Requiem or Sojourn make the sell.

    Of these, I think that Glitched: Escape from Hell is the most effective.

  158. StarEon 27 Sep 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Oh, wow! Folks are making suggestions for my title! Thank you both very much for helping me consider effective ideas.

    Yeah, Marissa told me about “Second Life”, heh-heh. I thought that game was called something else. I would very much like to change my title once something really fitting comes to mind.

    I’m not sure if “Glitched: Escape From Hell” has the right feeling to it, but I’ll keep that in mind as a guideline. 🙂 If I know what kinds of titles are effective, hopefully it’ll help me figure out a really good one sometime in the future. (I’ve read the articles on titles already, heh)

    Thank you, B. Mac and Lightingman!

  159. Marissaon 27 Sep 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I… well, I’m not exactly fond of that title either. I wouldn’t pick it up off the shelf; I’d assume it’s as corny as the title.

  160. StarEon 27 Sep 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Actually, maybe I can come up with something that reflects the “broken memories” angle of the plot?

    The storyline has a lot to do with losing, collecting, and recovering memories. It’s like… Prison with memory-torture, mind glitches, elemental tech, gang brawls, and fighting against self-evolving mechanical maniacs.

  161. Wingson 27 Sep 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Hello my little writer friends-

    I already chose How To Save The World for the first book, and here are some possible titles for book 2 and Darkstar Rising:

    Book 2: The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised (A play on “the revolution will not be televised”)

    Darkstar Rising: Those Who Fear The Darkness (Taken from this obscure quote: Those who fear the darkness have no idea what the light can do)

    Whatcha think?

    – Wings

  162. Jennyon 23 Oct 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Hey everyone, I’m having trouble thinking of a title for my story. My story has 2 elves, Iluna and Xander and they are acting as bodyguards for the royal family. They(royal family) are attending a conference and during this conference, Iluna and Xander spot one the enemy’s men eavesdropping. They follow him and stumble upon the villian’s plot to destroy the kingdom. Ideas for a title or ways to improve the story are greatly appreciated.

  163. B. Macon 23 Oct 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Hmm, if I could barrage you with questions that will help us suggest titles…

    –What’s distinct about your story?
    –How are you going to separate it from other fantasy novels?
    –What’s the mood like? (IE: dark vs. light-hearted, somber vs. whimsical, etc).
    –Who’s the target audience?
    –Why will we find the main characters interesting and/or likable?

  164. Jennyon 23 Oct 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve answered these questions the best I could

    What’s distinct about my story-
    – i’ve put a twist on the whole elf thing. they don’t live forever, they can still die like regular people so its not like “Oh I’m an elf and I’m never going to die”

    How are you going to separate it from fantasy novels-
    – no clue, I’m still getting there

    Whats the mood like?
    – I don’t know, I’m thinking dark vs. lighthearted or tense and mysterious

    Who’s the target audience-
    – most likely teens

    Why will we find the main characters interesting and/or likeable?
    – I’ve tried to make them as normal as possible, but still keeping with the whole elf thing. If they’re somewhat normal teens could relate at some level. My main protagonist Iluna can see whatever her eagle is seeing. (ie. eagle watches villian’s kill someone, Iluna can see it)

  165. Jennyon 30 Oct 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t mean to be a nuisance, but it would be really great if I could get some help with my story. Thanks 😀

  166. Ragged Boyon 31 Oct 2009 at 9:28 am

    I think you still have a bit of fleshing out to do. It’s critical that you decide on a mood for your story. And I’d really recommend thinking more about how your novel is distinct from others. There are many fantasy stories about elves, even with the minor change to their longevity I don’t think that’s enough to make the book interesting on its own.

    I’d recommend thinking of things that would make your characters and setting distinct as most fantasy novels focus on these elements. Determining a mood for your story will probably be a major help to figuring those things out.

    Could you describe the main characters’ personalities? That would help me a lot.

  167. ShardReaperon 07 Nov 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Which title sounds better:

    City Under Siege
    Episodes from Freedom City, or
    Freedom City Stories?

  168. B. Macon 07 Nov 2009 at 3:14 pm

    City Under Siege strikes me as generic but probably the best of the three.

    Freedom City and Freedom City Stories feel very generic. I don’t think that “Freedom City” is a phrase that tells readers a lot about what kind of book this is or persuades them to give it a look.

  169. PaintedSainton 22 Dec 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Does “Fool’s Country” sound too vague? The short story about a cult leader on the run, high as a kite, starving in the forest, and shackled to a dead child he had purposely overdosed. His cult has turned against him after his prophetic prediction was countered with failed crops. He ‘befriends’ a socially awkward garbage woman who disposes of corpses left over from individual and mass suicides in the forest. However, her actions are far from humanitarian and are rather questionable. Somewhat based on the old Judeo-Christian myth about a city of fools named Chelm, who had tricked themselves into thinking they are the wise ones.

    Other deviations of the title:

    The Country of Fools (Sounds like a social commentary. Don’t really like it.)
    The City of Fools
    Fools’ City(I don’t like this one too much, sounds as if Las Vegas or Port Royale is part of the story.)
    Fool’s Territory

  170. Wingson 23 Dec 2009 at 11:27 am

    I kinda like The City Of Fools and fool’s country, but I still feel something is…lacking. Hmmm…

    – Wings

  171. Lighting Manon 23 Dec 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I think that in terms of a short story, the title isn’t nearly as important as it is when you have to use it as a primary selling point. A novel is sold, partially, by its title alone, but an anthology of short stories, which I presume to be your preferred delivery method, carries its own title for it to be sold with. I would say that a name like Fool’s Country is perfectly acceptable in that situation. It gets the point across and that’s all you really need. At least in my opinion.

    I think a problem that is present within in the title without something to actually mark it as harkening to Old Testament usage of “fool” as being directed at a person misguided by hubris, it seems to be more in line with what I would deem the “literary” meaning of “fool” as in a jester, or a character that is going to or has been made a fool of by fate.

  172. B. Macon 23 Dec 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I like City of Fools the best. I agree that Country of Fools sounds a bit like an opinion piece. Fools’ City and Fool’s Territory sound a bit awkward to me. If the piece has a religious angle, you could name it something like God of Fools or A Gathering of Fools.

  173. jaronblazeon 10 Jan 2010 at 9:01 pm

    In my story, Jason is a color & ink manipulator. So i was thinking God Of Art as a possible book title. What do you guys think?

  174. YonTroperon 05 Apr 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I’m having trouble with my title. I was thinking of Autobiography of a Superhero – because that’s what the plot revolves around, excerpts from it appear in the book, and the main character’s diary entries end up becoming an autobiography of a superhero, sort of, when he becomes one – but now I’m worried that that might be too generic. What do you think?

    And you know what really irks me in titles? When, after the title, they put “A Novel” or “A Story”. Yes, we can see it’s a novel. Why would we want to read this novel? Even if the title is otherwise good, I’m not usually interested in books with that in the title, because it smacks of pretension to me.

  175. B. Macon 05 Apr 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Agreed! We did a list of words that were generally ineffective in titles two years ago and book/story/novel was one of the entries.

    One advantage of “autobiography” over “story” is that it’s considerably more specific and provides information that isn’t immediately visible to the reader. That said, I think it might be more interesting if you could cover the same information with a verb like “recounting” or a noun like “life.” Alternately, you might do something based on why he’s doing an autobiography. If he’s doing his memoirs because he’s quitting, you could do something like “Hanging up the Cape,” for example.

    Or you could go for something contrasting the idea of a world-saving bruiser with the quiet introspection of a diary-writer. “The Diary of [Badass Supername]” would be pretty engaging, I think. “The Diary of a Superhero” would be forgettable, though.

  176. Koveon 05 Apr 2010 at 8:30 pm

    a good thing to read for an idea on how to do this would be Watchmen. The excerpts from Hollis Mason’s autobiography “Under the Hood” were amazing.

  177. YonTroperon 05 Apr 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Good advice. “The Life and Times of a Superhero” it is. And I’ve read the bits from Watchmen – really good. Those are great examples to me of what to do.

  178. Mr. Crowleyon 18 Apr 2010 at 7:16 am

    The comic book Im working on is called When Gods Fall. It revolves around a group of flawed and disturbed superheroes trying to stop a villain called Azrael. Almost all of them end up getting killed by him, one of them becomes a nuclear reactor (long story) and another commits suicide. If you want to know more look at my review forum.http://www.superheronation.com/2010/04/05/mr-crowleys-review-forum/

  179. Gerbilmanon 22 Jun 2010 at 7:32 pm

    What about ‘Legend of Ronin: The Element War’? I know you guys have warned against using ‘Legend’ in a story title, but I figured, “What the hey, it’s worth a shot.”

    Anyways, just thought I’d ask. Thanks.

  180. B. Macon 22 Jun 2010 at 9:01 pm

    First, I think “The Element War” is not a particularly interesting phrase. (Indeed, we ranked “Element Wars” an awful-but-fixable title when it showed up at the Critters Writing Workshop).

    As for “Legend of Ronin,” the main point I would take away is that Ronin is a legendary, epic figure. This could be established more effectively with a noun or phrase describing him. For example, “Ronin, the Imperial Hammer” would be effective if he were a ridiculously tough soldier fighting for an emperor. If he’s more like an assassin or a rogue than a Conan, you might work in a word like “razor” to suggest what kind of warrior he is. (I don’t know anything about your story’s mood or plot or protagonist, so I don’t know what sort of epitaph would work best here). This sort of title would use the hero to hint at the plot. (A tough soldier fights a tough war, probably).

    Another tack would be to use the plot to imply the hero. We don’t know anything about your Ronin or what sort of war he’s fighting. Is the main conflict armies crushing against armies? Or is he more like an army of one, like a fantasy James Bond? How mature is the content? (It might help to suggest whether your war is depicted really gruesomely or something more appropriate for kids, like the combat in a Narnia book). This is a fantasy setting, right?

    What is Ronin’s goal? Sometimes the protagonist’s goal makes for an interesting title (I like “Catch Me If You Can” and “Sink the Bismarck”). What is he trying to accomplish by fighting/winning the element war? What’s the antagonist’s goal? Sometimes that sticks out more and implies what is at stake for the protagonist. I like “Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy” and my own “The Taxman Must Die.”

  181. Gerbilmanon 23 Jun 2010 at 10:38 am

    Actually, now that I think about it, ‘Element Wars’ wouldn’t work for what I had in mind anyways.

    I was originally planning ‘Legend of Ronin’ being a multi-book series. However, this seemed like a bit too big a task for me to even attempt, so I decided to just start with a single story (that’s one reason why ‘Element Wars’ wouldn’t work).

    Despite it being called ‘Legend of Ronin’, the main character is actually Ronin’s son. (Ronin died not long before the main character was born.) Since his home is relatively safe from harm, he leaves the villagey-type thing. As he goes on his journey or quest or whatever it could be called (and fights the traditional and slightly-cliche bands of pirates and rogue soldiers and such), he begins picking up snippets of information about his father, before eventually finding the spot where his father died. After picking up the rest of the story of his father’s death from some people that Ronin saved before he died, he begins the trip back home, and I haven’t figured out the rest yet. Is that even remotely interesting sounding? Or utterly ridiculous?

    And yes, the main character is an elemental, like his parents were. However, I’m hoping I’ve come up with a bit better explanation for the elemental stuff than most people do. And, despite teenaged heroes being cliche, the main character is a teenager.

    The violence probably wouldn’t be extreme – not something like “Aranjor drove his Demon Sword through the Orc’s neck and cavorted in glee as blood sprayed over him. Then he brought his Demon Sword down and began the process of disemboweling the pathetic creature, making sure to remove every last inch of the Orc’s intestines.” Probably just mentioning someone getting stabbed or something.

  182. Gerbilmanon 23 Jun 2010 at 11:48 am

    But I dunno… knowing my writing skill, I won’t even get past the first paragraph. Either way, I just figured it’d be a good idea to ask.

  183. B. Macon 23 Jun 2010 at 1:37 pm

    “Despite it being called ‘Legend of Ronin’, the main character is actually Ronin’s son.” Ah, that’s unexpected. If the story is about the character dealing with his father’s legacy, or maybe something his father left behind, perhaps you could name it something with footprints or shadows (i.e. filling big footprints or being in a giant’s shadow). For example, what would you think about something like “Bloody Footprints” or “Our Giants Cast Long Shadows”? I’m a bit wary about using words like “past” in because I think they suggest time-travel, but something like “Surviving the Past” might work.

    The plot sounds workable, if a bit stale so far, but I think the character could use more depth. For example, “Since his home is relatively safe from harm, he leaves the villagey-type thing.” If his town is safe, why does he leave it? (Why does he go out looking for trouble?) What’s his personality like? How does his personality tie into his decision to leave?

    “Aranjor drove his Demon Sword through the Orc’s neck and cavorted in glee as blood sprayed over him. Then he brought his Demon Sword down and began the process of disemboweling the pathetic creature, making sure to remove every last inch of the Orc’s intestines.” I take it you’re not a Garth Ennis fan. 😀

  184. Gerbilmanon 23 Jun 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Never heard of Garth Ennis… only Garth I’ve heard of is Garth Brooks.

    Anyways, my reasoning for his leaving the village in a time of relative peace was just boredom, mostly, coupled with an interest in following his father’s footsteps. This character is a water elemental (not like a water spirit, just a human with water powers and such), but I decided he’d be more interesting if he wasn’t peaceful and steady like most water-based characters usually are. So he’s got some temper issues, and a streak of near-cruelty in combat.

    His personality doesn’t really tie into his decision to leave, but it does influence the trip a bit. For example, I had a chapter planned where he intentionally picks a fight with a pair of elementals who’ve clearly got him outmatched. As a result, the group he’s traveling with (did I mention that earlier? I thought I did… maybe I’m wrong) gets delayed for a few days while he heals.

    (Actually, since I’ve got an approximate sixteen thousand simultaneous novel plans, I might transfer some of these ideas over to another novel attempt. I dunno… depends.)

  185. B. Macon 23 Jun 2010 at 8:27 pm

    “My reasoning for his leaving the village in a time of relative peace was just boredom, mostly…” One potential issue that might crop up is joy-riding–if the character is just bored, what’s at stake?

    I think the interest in following his father’s footsteps is better, but I think it would be more compelling if he had a good (preferably urgent) reason to do so. Maybe his father left some really serious unfinished business and he has to leave to figure it all out before Really Bad Thing X happens. For example, maybe his father failed to kill something and retracing his father’s steps is the best way to finish the job. Maybe he needs to find something believed to be left at his father’s gravesite? (Why would somebody leave something at the gravesite rather than with somebody? Maybe the father didn’t want the son to have it before he was ready, and finding the site is some sort of test for him).

    Or maybe he leaves because he’s decided that life at home is unbearable. (Family conflict? Loan shark? Crazy teachers?)

    Yeah, I don’t think Garth Ennis is well-known out of comics. (I don’t think he’s terribly well-known among casual comic book readers, either). His works often get quite gruesome.

  186. Gerbilmanon 24 Jun 2010 at 6:38 am


    That does seem like it would work quite a bit better. Family conflict would probably fit pretty well for what I had in mind – or at least for part of it. One more thing, if you don’t mind:

    In elemental-type fiction, the Fire dudes are usually the only bad guys. Would it be a sufficiently unusual (but workable) change to have the Air dudes fighting on the ‘evil’ side? ‘Cause, technically, Air feeds Fire (at least in mythology, anyways… heh) and all that.

  187. B. Macon 24 Jun 2010 at 6:58 am

    I like the idea of having air on the side of evil. It’s certainly unusual. I’m not sure what you mean when you ask whether it would be “sufficiently unusual.” Sufficiently unusual to accomplish what?

    It’s interesting, but I don’t expect it would be interesting enough to hook a reader or editor on that basis alone, if that’s what you mean. In contrast, some plots are unusual/fresh enough that they attract their own kind of reader, like villain-centric stories. I don’t think anybody would see that the villains are air-themed instead of fire-themed and say “hot damn, THAT is the book I have to read today.” But it wouldn’t hurt you, either.

  188. Gerbilmanon 24 Jun 2010 at 7:49 am

    Sufficiently unusual to make people curious, I guess.

    Okay, that helps a lot. Thanks!
    Oh… one last thing: what about Air fighting alongside Fire in an Alliance of Evil?

  189. B. Macon 24 Jun 2010 at 11:38 am

    “what about Air fighting alongside Fire in an Alliance of Evil?” I don’t think this is any more likely to grab the attention of a prospective reader.

    I think something like the elemental affiliation of the villain probably isn’t important enough to make the back-cover and almost certainly won’t change the plot in a fundamental way. I think readers are far more likely to notice a twist that affects the reading experience more or less from page one and doesn’t let up. Here are some examples that come to mind.

    –Your main character is either a villain or a type of character traditionally used as a villain (such as a dragon, ogre or supervillain).

    –The main character is one that is traditionally sidelined or ignored from similar stories. For example, something like Harry Potter from the perspective of the teachers or campus security or admissions office, a King Arthur story about Merlin keeping that crazy Arthur from mucking things up, a Pokemon-like story about the Pokemon (see also: dragon-rider stories and Old Yeller), a superhero story that’s about the guys that clean up after superpowered brawls, or a story that’s more about the princess or damsel in distress or other traditional love interest rather than the knight/traditional male protagonist, etc.

    –An unusual genre twist. For example, instead of a standard detective story, it’s a story about one of the King’s finest knights trying to figure out who framed George in a rather grisly dragon-slaying and why. Avatar did a Dancing with Wolves-style romance as science fiction.

    –Unusual placement of the hero? For example, usually the hero is “placed” with the good guys and does almost all of his adventuring with them against the bad guys. What if his coadventurers are actually the bad guys? Maybe the character starts out as one of the bad guys and eventually has a change of heart (perhaps he betrays his teammates or perhaps they convert too). Or perhaps he is a spy from the very beginning (either converting or betraying them by the end, probably).

    –A protagonist that has some highly unusual demographic characteristics. A military thriller about a kid would presumably have more appeal for younger readers than a book about an adult soldier. (As a tween, I wouldn’t have acknowledged that as a reason I liked Ender’s Game, but in retrospect I think it helped). Or a detective story where the protagonist is a middle-aged, mild-mannered lady rather than a hard-boiled cop. A spy story where the hero is a bumbling nerd rather than a super-suave master of destruction*. A superhero story where the protagonist is a regular teen that has to deal with decidedly mundane teen stuff like dating and money. (Hey, compared to billionaire playboys and Amazon princesses, that was kind of revolutionary way back when).

    –The character is unusually incompetent and/or has to deal with unusually severe obstacles to his success as a hero. (Some examples: Kickass, Chuck, The Taxman Must Die, possibly Monk, probably Austin Powers, me in the military, etc).

    *Some of these categories overlap. For example, Chuck is both demographically unusual and unusually incompetent.

  190. Gerbilmanon 24 Jun 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Alright, that helps. Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it.

  191. Gerbilmanon 03 Jul 2010 at 10:05 am

    Alright, another question – this one’s about superhero-type stuff.

    How does ‘The Earthquake Kid’ sound for a story about a terrakinetic hero? (it sounds kinda familiar to me, but I have no idea if I’ve ever seen it or heard it before. has someone else suggested it in the past?)

  192. Wingson 03 Jul 2010 at 2:18 pm

    “The Earthquake Kid” sounds slightly familiar to me as well, although I can’t place it.

    I like the sound of it, but there seems to be something…missing. If there were two protagonists, maybe try mentioning both of them in the title (ex: Frozen Fire and the Earthquake Kid). My “copyright infringement” sense is tingling as I suggest this, though, so feel free to ignore me.

    – Wings

  193. B. Macon 03 Jul 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone else suggesting or using Earthquake Kid, although we’ve had several authors use a name ending in Kid.

    I think ending a name with kid (or lad/woman/man/boy/girl/etc) strikes me as outdated. I wouldn’t recommend it unless your audience is rather young or if you’re trying to show something unusual about the character. For example, Tom used Psykid in a cartoon show aimed at pre-teens, and it helps show viewers how goofy the character is. (The other superheroes pick names like Frostburn and Astraea, which are more mature).

  194. Gerbilmanon 03 Jul 2010 at 8:24 pm

    okay, that makes sense. what would you suggest for a terrakine?

    and, btw, where would I go for questions about creating characters? do you have a page on that somewhere?

  195. Gerbilmanon 03 Jul 2010 at 8:24 pm

    ‘what would you suggest for a novel about a terrakine?’ is what I meant to say. sorry.

  196. B. Macon 03 Jul 2010 at 8:40 pm

    You can ask writing questions anywhere. For articles on building characters, please see the Characterization category. There are several pages there.

    I think the most helpful articles there include How to Write Distinct Characters, How to Introduce an Interesting Character and What Makes a Character Likable?

  197. Gerbilmanon 03 Jul 2010 at 8:45 pm

    alright, thanks! appreciate it.

  198. B. Macon 03 Jul 2010 at 8:46 pm

    “what would you suggest for a novel about a terrakine?’” I misread that pretty hard. I saw “what would you suggest for a novel about a terrapin?”

    Maryland Terrapins: Dial M for Murdered

    As for your actual question, I’m not sure yet. Here are the things I know about your story and character.

    The book has a water elemental leaving a village, the tech level sounds pretty low, and it doesn’t sound like we’re talking about real-life countries. So I think prospective publishers will look at this as a fantasy rather than a typical superhero story. So, if he has a title/alternate identity in this story, I’d recommend going with something that has a more fantastical style than something that screams superhero (like “Earthquake Kid” or, say, “Captain Carnage”).

    Now, I don’t know what the personality of the character is like. Or how he comes by this name. (Is it given to him by his parents? Somebody else? Chosen by him?) Or the age of your target readers. Or the genre (my impression so far is fantasy/action). Or the level of exoticness you’re looking for. (This is his “super” name and not his regular one, right?) With those limitations in mind, some names that come to mind mainly feature hard sounds.

    –Ter- + your favorite suffix (Terrid, Terros, Terric, etc).
    –Shakeen (or Shakow or Shakade, but Shak- is a rather unusual prefix in Western names).
    –Quake (too obvious, I think)
    –Sapper (also, a type of soldier that does a lot of digging and creative earthwork, and by creative I mean blowing things up).
    –Maybe something with rubble.

    If we’re talking about a class of earth elementals rather than an individual, maybe something based on masonry, sculpting, or another concept related to control over the earth. (Or demolitions or earthquakes or volcanos, if these guys are more into tearing stuff up than building).

  199. Gerbilmanon 04 Jul 2010 at 12:15 am

    ohhh… sorry. i was referring to another idea i’ve had floating for a while. ‘Legends of Ronin’ is on a backburner for a bit. (I probably should’ve said that, shouldn’t I?)

    Here’s what I had in mind: this character (as yet unnamed, although I’m leaning towards something with like Zeck or Ezekiel) is the son of two famed superheroes in a fictional metropolis called Legend City (it was a tossup between Legend City and Strangerville. Legend City sounded better, in my opinion.)

    His parents are initially reluctant for him to enter the hero scene, but they eventually let him work as their sidekick. Several weeks after his entrance into the world of superheroics, an open attack from several coalitions of supervillains leave the city in ruins, and most the adult superheroes are either executed or imprisoned, leaving the main character and the junior heroes as the city’s only hope.

    (I know the ‘kids-are-the-only-hope’ premise is cliche, but I figured that since the villains had already wiped out most of the adults, they wouldn’t really be worried about a bunch of teenagers.)

    Oh, and like I said, the main character’s power is a version of terrakinesis that mostly allows him to control tectonics (i.e. create earthquakes) and metals (which usually falls under ferrokinesis, I think, but i remembered that ferrokinesis is sometimes a subset of terrakinesis).

    I’m trying to think up a suitable weakness or disability, but i’m having a bit of trouble coming up with one.

  200. B. Macon 04 Jul 2010 at 11:33 am

    “I was referring to another idea I’ve had floating for a while. ‘Legends of Ronin’ is on a backburner for a bit.” Ah, okay.

    “I know the ‘kids-are-the-only-hope’ premise is cliche, but I figured that since the villains had already wiped out most of the adults, they wouldn’t really be worried about a bunch of teenagers.” I think a young audience will buy into a “kids-are-the-only-hope” premise pretty easily. And it seems like your version feels more believable, than, say, “in a world where everybody but a small group of classmates is inexplicably incompetent, an orphaned wizard must use a disarming spell and a broomstick to defeat a supposedly powerful sorcerer.” 😉

    It might help, though, if you come up with some reason why the teenagers succeed whereas the villains do not besides the villains being caught unawares. For example, in alien invasion and zombie stories, the military/police are usually totally ineffective and the protagonists succeed because they adapt to the enemy and try a more effective approach. Which, in this case, might be something like guerrilla warfare and/or the shenanigans of an improbably precocious mad scientist and/or the villains having no previous experience with these particular heroes. (In contrast, the villains are probably intimately familiar with the original heroes, their powers, their weaknesses and shortcomings, their fighting styles, how best to surprise them, maybe a few of their secret identities, etc).

    I think it might be more interesting if the protagonist declined to be a superhero (why?) until the villains invaded. I think that gives a bit more dramatic potential than him being a conventional student who became a sidekick a few weeks or months before the villains invaded. Because his parents are probably going to be out of the picture for most of the book, I suspect that it would be difficult to squeeze drama out of a conflict between an enthusiastic would-be sidekick and parents that are reluctant to have him along. (In such a book, the character would only have to change his level of competence/experience to succeed). In contrast, if the hero is initially unwilling, he’d not only have to become more competent and/or experienced, but probably also change something about his personality and enthusiasm. (You might also get a conflict between the protagonist and one of his new teammates along the lines of a conflict between a drafted soldier that is not particularly eager and a volunteer that has been waiting for this opportunity for years).

    “I’m trying to think up a suitable weakness or disability, but i’m having a bit of trouble coming up with one.” Not a weakness, exactly, but I think an adequate shortcoming would be that he’s inexperienced and probably prone to making mistakes. Giving somebody a gun (superpowers) doesn’t instantly make them a soldier (superhero). Developing the right instincts and skills takes time.

    Also, given that he’s fighting against villains that seem pretty badass, he might be at a distinct disadvantage in terms of ruthlessness. On the other hand, being more human/compassionate might ultimately be an advantage. For example, at a critical moment, a friend or acquaintance or bystander might be willing to go Nathan Hale (i.e. get executed) rather than betray the protagonist to the enemy. (“I’m Spartacus!” “No, I’m Spartacus!”)

  201. Gerbilmanon 04 Jul 2010 at 9:45 pm

    The guerrilla warfare-type thing was what I originally had in mind, actually.

    And, about weaknesses, I was considering making the main character blind. He’d have a sort-of radar, I guess, but it wouldn’t be even close to a substitute for real sight, leaving him at a bit of a disadvantage in a fight with multiple enemies.

    Here are the characters I was considering so far, if you don’t mind me putting this here:

    -Main character (I’m probably going to go with Zechariah Flynn – Zeck for short) is the team cynic and sarcastic/bitter guy, somewhat due to his having been born blind. That being said, he’s inherited some of his parents’ hero complexes, which gives him a slightly human edge (he manages to refrain from executing a subdued non-powered supervillain, for example). I figured it might be more interesting if he wasn’t the team leader, or even the second-in-command, but just a rank-and-file kinda guy. Like I’ve said before, his powers revolve around terrakinesis.

    -John Paul Morgan is the team’s leader. He’s the Superman of the group, I guess, meaning he’s very focused on truth, justice, and kicking supervillain keister. He follows the never-kill rule to the letter, which will – if I can work this thing out right – lead to him and Zeck Flynn arguing over Zeck’s killing a group of henchmen. In his unpowered state, he’s strong enough to lift a car, durable enough to take a tank shell in the chest, and fast enough to reach one-hundred miles an hour on a straightaway. In his powered state – brought on by emotional stress, pain, or danger to himself and/or his friends – his strength, durability, and speed are increased exponentially. Sorta like an intelligent Hulk.

    -Daniel Parks is the genius of the team, and John Paul’s second-in-command. I haven’t really fleshed him out much, which I’m planning on doing. Suffice it to say he’s nuts about machines and electronics. His power is technopathy.

    -Kya Morgan is the female lead, and John Paul’s younger sister. She’s the youngest of the team, being a few months younger than Zeck Flynn. I decided to make her characterized like most air-elemental characters usually are – carefree, cheerful, etc. Her powers revolve around aerokinesis.

    -Georgie Wayne is another character I haven’t really worked out much yet. His powers are superspeed and enhanced reflexes/agility.

    So… what do ya think? Workable? Cliche tripe? The next hottest thing? (just kidding about the last one)

  202. B. Macon 05 Jul 2010 at 12:43 am

    “What do ya think? Workable? Cliche tripe? The next hottest thing? (just kidding about the last one)” Hey, always hold out hope! 😀

    Is this a first-person narration or a third-person? If first-person, I think a blind narrator would be rather difficult. That said, the idea of a protagonist bitter about his blindness sounds interesting. (It would definitely be a plausible reason his parents and/or he would not be enthusiastic about him entering the family business). I think it might help to give him some sort of skill/asset/strength that doesn’t involve his superpowers, though.

    I feel that a rank-and-file member has somewhat more dramatic potential as a main character than the team leader. (For one thing, I think it’s usually easiest to relate to the guy that knows the least about what’s going on. It’s why people like me 😀 ).

    John Paul Morgan. Unless you have a good reason otherwise, I’d recommend eliminating the middle name. Besides, J.P. Morgan is sort of already taken. 😉

    I think it might help if you gave yourself more room for conflict between the teammates. One option would be strengthening the characters’ flaws. Maybe John is so strongly committed to being a stereotypical good guy that it’s actually a liability to the team and the welfare of the public. I’m having a bit more trouble coming up with something that fits Daniel without being too cliche (“maybe the science guy isn’t good with people!”–ick), but maybe he’s full of himself or not mentally ready for brutal combat. Maybe he’s really bad at working under un-ideal circumstances… he’s a preposterously good inventor or whatever when he has unlimited access to parts, but unfortunately Best Buy sort of closed when the supervillains invaded the city. It takes a very special knack to turn three cars’ worth of parts and a broken radio into an EMP device and maybe he doesn’t have that yet. Or maybe he’s really bad at working with computers/electronics while a battle is raging in the next room.

    Hmm. It might help if Kya’s personality varied a bit more from the standard air-aligned character. For example, maybe she’s adventurous/thrill-seeking? That’s something I’d associate with the air, too, but it’s not as widely used on air characters.

  203. Gerbilmanon 05 Jul 2010 at 8:00 am

    It’ll most likely be third-person, but I am considering first-person.

    I generally do like rank-and-file characters better than team leaders. It seems like most team leaders in comic books and such are mainly just plain arrogant… maybe that’s just me.

    “For one thing, I think it’s usually easiest to relate to the guy that knows the least about what’s going on. It’s why people like me.” That’s awesome.

    I have to admit, I did not know JP Morgan was sort-of already taken. This complicates matters a bit. Lessee… how’s Paladin Morgan sound? (Paladin’s a kinda unusual name, right?)

    I was considering possibilities for Daniel as I was getting up and about this morning. I was thinking he’d probably be pretty arrogant about his skill with machines and computers – I mean, he is a teenager 😉 – but he’d most likely start freaking out when problems began to happen. The most he could do in a fight, after all, is build a bomb out of a cement truck.

    Adventurous and thrill-seeking would work pretty well, actually. Also, Kya could be another source of conflict between John (or Paladin, whichever works better) and Zeck.

    Here’s an example scenario I came up with: Zeck joins the team mostly against his will, making him somewhat cheesed-off with the world. Of all the team members (and there will be a couple more than five), Kya’s the only one who tries to make him feel welcome. This intrigues him quite a bit. He gets even more intrigued when she throws him off a skyscraper roof to see if he can fly. They become sorta close friends, and he starts getting more and more interested in her, etc. John/Paladin catches on to the mutual-interest radiating from the two, and attempts to put the fear of God into Zeck, who already dislikes John/Paladin. This starts a major conflict that begins to envelope the entire team, eventually leading to the team getting captured because they were too busy arguing to pay attention to the six-armed monster that was stalking them.

    That’s just something I thought up in a few seconds, so it’s prolly really cheesy. But I figured it’d probably get the point across.

  204. B. Macon 05 Jul 2010 at 9:01 am

    I think Paladin would work better as a last name or a superhero name than a first name. If you were inclined to keep John Morgan, I think that’d be fine. Both names are common enough that most people would not think of J.P. Morgan.

    Hmm. Why does John/Paladin get bothered by the relationship building between Kya and Zeck? (Because Zeck is making a move on his sister? Because romance is unprofessional at a time like this? Because they’re sneaking around at a time that everybody should be working together? Maybe they’ve been dishonest to him about the relationship because they assumed he wouldn’t take it well? Etc).

  205. Gerbilmanon 05 Jul 2010 at 9:27 am

    I like the name Paladin a lot, actually.

    I think Paladin (or Pal) would get bothered for all of those reasons, actually, except maybe the one about romance being unprofessional.

  206. Hopefulon 05 Jul 2010 at 12:39 pm

    What do you think about the title The Empowered: The story of a Metahuman

  207. B. Macon 05 Jul 2010 at 2:10 pm

    “The Empowered: The Story of a Metahuman.” I think it could say more about the story, and I generally recommend against using words like “story” (or novel/ballad/legend/tale/etc) in a title because they’re unnecessary. (Readers can see it’s a story). Unless, maybe, that information is not readily obvious and/or the title is meant to be funny (such as something like “Autobiographies from Death Row” or “The Ballad of the Drunken Squeegeemaster”).

    Second, I think that “metahuman” is redundant with “empowered.” I think the title could be shortened from “The Empowered: The Story of a Metahuman” to just “Metahuman” without losing much. With both titles, the best case scenario is that the reader can figure out from the title that this is a superhero story. Aside from that, they’re pretty generic and could apply to pretty much any superhero story. They don’t really say anything about what’s at stake, what the protagonist is like, what the protagonist is attempting to accomplish, what the story is like, etc.

    An effective superhero title usually says something about the story besides that it’s about superheroes. What kind of superhero story is it?

    For example, if I were writing a violent comedy about a superhero, I might title it something like “Blood-Drenched Capes are Hard to Clean (and Other Helpful Facts the Comic Books Neglected to Mention).”

    If I were writing a story about a henchman or villain, I might title it something like “Bring Me the Head of Captain Benevolent!” (See also: “Soon I Will Be Invincible” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”).

    For an action/comedy comic book about an unexpected superhero, I went with “The Taxman Must Die.” (The title doesn’t make it entirely clear it’s a superhero story, but the cover art does).

    For a relatively gritty story about a powersuited hero or supersoldier, maybe “Armored and Dangerous.” (The pun is hit-or-miss, though).

    For an irreverent look at the superhero lifestyle, maybe something like “My Sanest Coworker Dresses Like a Bat [or another goofy animal] and Beats Up Serial Killers.”

    Some other superhero titles I really like include “Captain Freedom: A Superhero’s Search for Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves” and “More than Human.”

    I hope those examples helped. What do you want to tell readers about your story besides that the main character is a metahuman?

  208. Hopefulon 05 Jul 2010 at 3:15 pm

    How about The Pacifistic Super Weapon

  209. Gerbilmanon 05 Jul 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Oh, btw, I had an idea for a series of short stories that I might co-write with a friend. What do you think of the title ‘Team Awesome-Sauce’?

  210. B. Macon 05 Jul 2010 at 9:11 pm

    “Team Awesome-Sauce”–definitely a head-scratcher, but I like it. 🙂

    “The Pacifistic Super Weapon”–this is significantly better.

    Some other possibilities that come to mind (but may not fit the plot all that well) include “Explosively Pacifist” or “Violently Pacifist” or “The Ticking Pacifist” and”The Pacifist Time-Bomb.”

    Comparing peace to death might work as well. (For example, you might be able to work in a phrase like “Rest in Peace” or “Eternal Peace”– like “The Eternal Peace of the Ticking Pacifist”).

  211. Gerbilmanon 06 Jul 2010 at 5:43 am

    Yeah, it’d either be a humorous series, or one wherein some of the characters are idiots.

    Also, I was considering that blind-hero thing yesterday, and I had an idea. You know about Ben 10? You know, the kid that turns into aliens?

    Well, I was thinking, what if shapeshifting into various monsters was the only way that a blind hero could see? Despite the fact that, due to his the instability of his genetic code, he can only safely remain in monster-form for two hours, he’d probably be tempted to spend larger and larger periods of time ‘monstered-up’ (just made that up in about three milliseconds, which you can probably tell from the incredible corniness of the catchphrase).

    Just an idea, but I’m mighty tickled with myself at the moment. What do you think of ‘Two Hours’ for a title. Or ‘Eyesight’?

  212. B. Macon 06 Jul 2010 at 7:47 am

    I think “Two Hours” doesn’t give readers enough information about what’s going on. (Two hours to do what?* Which genre are we talking about? What’s the protagonist like? What’s he trying to do? What’s at stake?) Something like “Two Hours to Save the World” or “Saving the World Two Hours at a Time” fills in some of the gaps, but I don’t think they’re stylish enough. I’m not sure whether this two hour time restriction is important enough to include in the title. I don’t get the impression it’s terribly central to the plot. In contrast, “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Gone in 60 Seconds” are stories where the central goal hinges on an extremely tight deadline. (In Gone in 60 Seconds, the protagonist has to steal 50 cars in a night to save his brother).

    “Eyesight” has a lot of similar issues. I don’t think it gives readers enough information to want to look closer. Genre? What’s the protagonist like? What’s the main goal? What’s the antagonist like? What’s at stake if the protagonist fails? Generally, I think that one-word titles are extremely risky for first-time authors. They rarely say enough about the story to hook in prospective readers glancing at a shelf in a bookstore. (In contrast, an established author like Michael Crichton doesn’t/didn’t depend as much on impulsive strangers).

    I’d recommend looking at one of my comments yesterday for some examples of titles that give readers more information about what’s going on and why they should be interested.

    *I know what you mean by “two hours” (the limit on his ability) but prospective readers probably would not.

  213. Hopefulon 06 Jul 2010 at 9:46 am

    Is “The Pacifistic Super Weapon: Rest in Peace whith out dying” better. The main charactor is some what pacifictic ( he says “I won’t start a fight but I’ll end one”) so no matter what he won’t kill. He bealives that killing or maiming will not solve anything even though he can level a building before you could blink.

    P.S. He does not move fast to fight becouse it uses too mch energy.

  214. Gerbilmanon 06 Jul 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Okay, that makes sense. Would something like tne minutes help the plot a bit more?

  215. Gerbilmanon 06 Jul 2010 at 12:05 pm

    ten minutes, i mean

  216. Gerbilmanon 08 Jul 2010 at 5:01 pm

    On an unrelated note, how does ‘Saving Our Stupid World’ sound for a superhero story?

    I know it doesn’t really tell anything about the story other than that it involves world-saving (and a slight sense of sarcasm on the author’s part), but I thought it kinda humorous. I dunno.

  217. B. Macon 08 Jul 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I feel like it says quite a lot about the story. A cynical, probably elitist superhero* has to save the world while putting up with more stupidity than Batman ever gets.

    *At least, I think we could infer that he’s a superhero based on saving the world. While some other classes of protagonists (such as superspies and star captains) frequently save the world, I think the phrase has more of a superheroic feel. For example, Wikiquote’s page on Justice League has 4 quotes that use the phrase, and I doubt it’s a comprehensive list). I’d be surprised if the entire James Bond series used the phrase 4 times. (Trevelyan did once in Goldeneye).

  218. Gerbilmanon 09 Jul 2010 at 5:24 am

    Really? Wow… I was just tossing around ideas. Speaking of which, how’s ‘Saving the World – One Idiot at a Time’ sound? Or something like ‘How to Save the World in Three Easy Steps’?

    And, would a title like ‘Breakdown: Saving Our Stupid World’ be acceptable, even though I’m using the main character’s name? (i’m just using Breakdown as an example, btw)

  219. Anonymouson 09 Jul 2010 at 10:07 am

    I like “Saving the World, One Idiot at a Time.” It’s probably smoother than “Saving Our Stupid World,” which strikes me as a bit awkward.

    “How to Save the World in Three Easy Steps,” not so much. For one thing, it doesn’t have the cynicism or indicate what sort of obstacles he’ll be up against. I think it suggests we’re looking at a superhero story, but not what kind of superhero story.

    Breakdown is a cool name, but I don’t think it adds anything to the title.

  220. Gerbilmanon 09 Jul 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I was thinking “Saving the World, One Idiot at a Time” would be something sorta like cops – you know, various snippets of villains being busted, heroes telling how they came onto the hero scene, etc. Although, it’s kinda hard to tell a story like that. I dunno.

  221. Wingson 09 Jul 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I like “Saving the World, One Idiot at a Time” as a title.

    Half on, half off topic: I am in need (Read: Exceedingly desperate, brain-breaking, burning need) of a new title for Darkstar Rising. The older one is driving me to distraction because of its sheer…horrible-i-tude*.

    – Wings

    * Now a real word, because I couldn’t find anything else that captured the emotion I was attempting to convey.

  222. Gerbilmanon 10 Jul 2010 at 7:24 am

    I know ‘night’, ‘dark/darkness’, and ‘shadow’ are some of those “do-not-put-in-title” words, but have you considered “Nightstar Rising”? or maybe “Nightstar Genesis”, or “Ascendant Darkness”?

  223. Wingson 10 Jul 2010 at 2:58 pm

    The main problem with the existing title is that Darkstar’s name has since changed to Darken, stripping the title of all hidden meaning it might have had.

    The other working title was Those Who Fear the Darkness, from an obscure quote attributed to multiple sources (One of which is *cringe* a Magic card.).

    – Wings

  224. B. Macon 10 Jul 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Also, “Darkstar Rising” is an episode from one of the Ben Ten series, I think.

  225. Wingson 10 Jul 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Due to this incident of copyright infringement, I must now self terminate.

    *leaps off cliff, lands on giant trampoline, and bounces back*

    …This just killed the dramatic effect, didn’t it?

    – Wings

  226. Gerbilmanon 10 Jul 2010 at 8:47 pm

    never saw Darkstar Rising (The episode, i mean), so i forgot it. (plus, Ben 10: Alien Force was suckage compared to the first series. I tend to forget things that suck)

    btw, Wings, self-termination is rife with dramatic effect, even if you land on trampolines and bounce back.

  227. Hopefulon 12 Jul 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve been wait in for a response for a while

  228. NicKennyon 12 Jul 2010 at 3:42 pm

    It’s a bit much. Contradictory. Long. Needs a rethink.

  229. B. Macon 12 Jul 2010 at 8:10 pm

    “It’s a bit much. Contradictory. Long. Needs a rethink.” Could you clarify that? For example, what is contradictory? (Somebody’s comment? The article?) Could you give examples, like some contradictory sentences?

  230. B. Macon 12 Jul 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, Hopeful.

    Is “The Pacifistic Super Weapon: Rest in Peace without dying” better?

    I don’t feel the subtitle (“Rest in Peace Without Dying”) is particularly effective or clear. It makes it sound like he goes into a coma, hibernation or cryosleep.

    What sort of things are at stake for this character? Besides his reluctance to kill people, what is his personality like?

  231. B. Macon 12 Jul 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Wings, I think “Darkstar Rising” is okay as a working title (even though Darkstar’s name has changed). Once you’ve finished the work and are mostly ready to submit to publishers, then I’d recommend perfecting the title. Until the story is finished, I suspect that coming up with a really strong title will be rather difficult.

  232. NicKennyon 13 Jul 2010 at 5:44 am

    Right sorry.

    “Is “The Pacifistic Super Weapon: Rest in Peace whith out dying” better. The main charactor is some what pacifictic ( he says “I won’t start a fight but I’ll end one”) so no matter what he won’t kill. He bealives that killing or maiming will not solve anything even though he can level a building before you could blink.

    P.S. He does not move fast to fight becouse it uses too mch energy.” – Hopeful

    1. I have several problems with that. He can level a building before you can blink and yet is not superfast… Hmmmm…

    2. As B-mac said “I don’t feel the subtitle (“Rest in Peace Without Dying”) is particularly effective or clear. It makes it sound like he goes into a coma, hibernation or cryosleep.”

    3. How will the story work? Why would he kill if he doesn’t want to? How can you get an unstoppable being to do what he doesnt want to do.

    And finally:
    4. The title is too long. Stick with at most five words.

  233. Hopefulon 13 Jul 2010 at 8:04 am

    He is super-fast, but if he uses his speed too often he will run out of energy (a person who just ran a marathon isn’t going to jump into a boxing ring and win) so if he can find another way to deal with the situation without superspeed he will.

    On closer examination the subtitle will only make sense after you have gotten half way through.
    With the story, it’s about a group of superheroes, Stronghold, the POV, the strong and silent type who is surprisingly smart and is pacifist (a watered down Superman with vulnerability to heat).
    The main villain can take the form of other people, is invulnerable, and has control over light. He wants complete control over all territories owned at one point in time by France. He is a direct descendant of the french throne and blames any one descended from Napoleon ( who declared himself emperor) for this and Stronghold is one.

  234. Gerbilmanon 13 Jul 2010 at 10:25 am

    This might just me being paranoid, but isn’t Stronghold the name of a Disney superhero? I like the vulnerability to heat part, though.

  235. NicKennyon 13 Jul 2010 at 1:52 pm

    How does The Guardians: Angel sound?

  236. B. Macon 13 Jul 2010 at 5:02 pm

    “This might just me being paranoid, but isn’t Stronghold the name of a Disney superhero? I like the vulnerability to heat part, though.”

    Actually, several Disney characters now that Disney has bought out Marvel. Two that come to mind are Will Stronghold from Sky High and a fairly minor mercenary antagonist in the Marvel universe).

    However, I don’t recommend getting too worried about such legal liability issues before getting published. If the story were otherwise publishable except for legal liabilities stemming from the overlap, it’d be really easy for a publisher to offer you a contract and later change the name to something more distinct.

    PS: I’m moving forward with a character named Agent Orange even though so many comic book characters have that name that it has its own disambiguation page on Wikipedia. For one thing, I’d probably have to scrap this scene if I changed his name.

  237. B. Macon 13 Jul 2010 at 5:23 pm

    How does “The Guardians: Angel” sound?

    I don’t feel like it says very much about the plot, the characters, what’s at stake, etc. My first guess is that it’s a story about guardian angels or a superhero team, but either way it feels generic–it doesn’t say much about what kind of superhero or guardian angel story it is.

    Also, “The Guardians” is a generic name for a team that says very little about the team, its mission and its style. I’d recommend something that differentiates it better from 95% of other groups out there. (Pretty much every superteam is formed to guard something, usually a city or country or the world, so “The Guardians” does not say much about this team in particular).

    Maybe a team-name with more personality. For example, Hunter-Killers sounds like a special forces team, The Company or The Directorate sound cold and secretive, etc. Some other examples of evocative names include:
    –the Suicide Squad
    –the Authority
    –Kids Next Door
    –Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos
    –Action Scientists of Tesladyne
    –the Men in Black
    –Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
    –Damage Control
    –Heroes, Inc.
    –the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (they stick it to The Man in Undercover Brother)

    So, what distinguishes your team from somebody like the Avengers, Justice League or X-Men?

  238. Mikeon 19 Jul 2010 at 5:37 pm

    How’s ‘They Call Us Gods’ sound?

    A couple of days ago, I came up with a phrase that I really liked – “They call us gods, though we are naught but men with gifts” or something along those lines – and from the first line came a title idea.

    So.. whatcha think? I know it ain’t really descriptive of the story or anything, but I thought it would fit for a superhero novel.

  239. B. Macon 19 Jul 2010 at 6:12 pm

    “How’s ‘They Call Us Gods’ sound?” I like it! It sets up an interesting contrast (“they” vs. “us”) and hints at a sophisticated plot. Plus, I think it’s reasonably clear that it’s a superhero novel (or perhaps fantasy/urban fantasy). Best guess: more drama than brawling.

    I feel the voice of the extended sentence (“They call us gods, though we are naught but men with gifts”) is a bit too flowery. Personally, I’d prefer “They call us gods, but we are nothing but men with gifts.” Do what you’re comfortable with, of course.

  240. Mike/Gerbilmanon 19 Jul 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Cool! I finally found one that might work. I dunno about the drama (my attempts at drama end up being corny) but i’m gonna try to make it good. I’m thinking teen characters again. I know it’s been done time and again, but hey – I’m a teenager. that’s what I know. Know what I mean? XD

    Mind if I run a few characters and powers by you? or do I need to go to another forum?

  241. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I know I’ve asked this before, but I am still in desperate need for a new title for Darkstar Rising, as the old one lost any significance when i renamed the main character.

    The plot revolves around a mercenary who works for both heroes and villains and the uptight leader of a less-than-normal superhero team, and their relationship of sorts during an age of fear as a empathic supervillain kills off superheroes one by one.

    It’s superhero fiction, but it’s darker in tone than HTSTW and takes a more serious approach to a superhero world.

    I’m trying to avoid titles of an overly humorous sort (Mainly since it’s a deconstruction as opposed to a comedic piece like the aforementioned HTSTW). Ideally I’d like a title taken from a famous quote, but since I found out that my previous title of that sort was from *shudder* a Magic card…Let’s just say I have no desire to repeat that particular experience.

    Another problem is the title giving too much away. One of the ideas I toyed with was “Fear of the Light” (A play on “fear of the dark”) but I don’t want the reader to guess that Shift is evil immediately and groan at it.

    Some ideas I’ve been tossing around:

    Darkest Before Dawn – I don’t feel this tells enough at what kind of story it is.Plus, it’s from a rather overused quote.

    Dark Enough to See the Stars – This was from a relatively obscure quote “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Again, I don’t feel that this tells enough, and it doesn’t flow well.

    Like it says in the “Ten Words That Will Kill Your Title” advice, I’m trying to avoid “darkness” and “night”. Still, working in something like ‘contrast” would be interesting…

    Please help me.

    – Wings

    I like “They Call Us Gods”. I’d pick up that book if I was to see it in a bookstore.

  242. B. Macon 19 Jul 2010 at 8:48 pm

    “Like it says in the “Ten Words That Will Kill Your Title” advice, I’m trying to avoid “darkness” and “night”. Still, working in something like ‘contrast” would be interesting…”

    As long as you use the word interestingly, I don’t think either would be a problem.

    I’d sort of be interested in something like “It’s Darkest Before You Die.” “Darkest Before Dawn…” I don’t know. I don’t think it says enough about the work. It just has a vague sense of hope about it.

  243. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Honestly, Darkstar Rising has been the most difficult book to choose a title for.

    To me, “It’s Darkest Before You Die” has more of a Dead Baby Comedy feel to it. I’m not sure that fits right for the book…Sigh…

    Why must this book be so infuriating!? XD

    – Wings

  244. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 9:21 pm

    “Darkest Before the Dying” sounds better in my opinion, if we’re hoping to play off the “darkest before dawn” quote, but I’m still not attached to it.

    P suggested Cityscape Shadows, but I’m not too fond of it.

    A Title Generator gave me Light Within Shadows.

    I’m still digging through quotes. I’ve had good luck there before: Strawberries and the Meaning of Life came about from reading the quoted nursery rhyme and a few important scenes in Twisted Fantasy came from a G.K Chesterton quote.

    – Wings

  245. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I have posted far too much on this forum today, but I think I might finally have something.

    The Space Between Light and Darkness was taken directly from one of Darken’s lines inbook (“My world is the space between light and darkness. The space between sunlight and shadows. The space between you and me.” – Darken, talking to Hikari).

    I think it fits surprisingly well. Anyone else agree?

    – Wings

  246. B. Macon 19 Jul 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Maybe you could try modifying light in a different way than contrasting it with darkness or shadows. If death is a major motif in the work, maybe something like The Light that Kills or The Deadly Light?

  247. Mike/Gerbilmanon 20 Jul 2010 at 5:27 am

    Personally, I like ‘The Space Between Light and Darkness’. It does fit pretty well. To me, at least. I’d pick it up off the shelves if I saw it.

    it’s got a kinda cool vibe, I guess… hey, wait a minute! Are you copying my idea of getting title from in-book quotes?! (joking)

  248. Wingson 20 Jul 2010 at 10:14 am

    This idea ain’t big enough for the two of us…*puts on a cowboy hat and rests her hand on a pistol*

    I kid. 😉

    Light, darkness, and death are all themes of the book…but Shift is referred to almost as the personification of light itself, so if I put something about light killing, my carefully hidden plot twist will be discovered all too early!

    However, Darken’s line also serves almost as Arc Words* for the novel…The line is used at the beginning for Darken to highlight exactly how different he and Hikari are, the shows up again at the end of the book as Darken attempts to make Hikari realize that Shift isn’t who she thought him to be.

    …Could have probably explained that last bit better, but I just woke up.

    – Wings


  249. Mikeon 20 Jul 2010 at 10:38 am

    *puts on a cowboy hat and twirls a .44 Magnum on his index finger thoughtfully*

    So Shift is actually a bad dude? That would be an interesting twist.

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight – Darken is a superpowered version of Van Rook, and he’s paired with Hikari, who’s a photomanip. Shift is a bad guy, although he pretends to be a good guy (correct me if I am teh rongz). And one of your heroes is a blood manip – or hemokinetic XD – and I would assume is similar to A:TLA’s bloodbending.

    Did I get it right?

  250. Wingson 20 Jul 2010 at 10:52 am

    Although I am unfamiliar with most of your references, I get your general meaning!

    A supervillain known as Pathos is systematically killing the superheroes, and crime is beginning to overrun the city without the heroes to hold it at bay. Hikari leads a superhero team which lost its leader to Pathos, called the Six. As they’re aren’t enough heroes left, she begins hiring a mercenary to take care of the crimes that her team can’t reach. This mercenary, Darken, works for both heroes and villains and profits from both sides, which doesn’t fit well with Hikari’s black-and-white, good-and-evil worldview. As Pathos’ influence spreads, they form an unlikely bond.

    The story is a deconstruction of superheroes in general, and possesses a relatively large cast of characters, from a pacifistic hemokinetic and the plant manipulator in love with him to the jaded ex-superheroine nursing a grudge against the heroes.

    In short, it’s extremely fun to write. 🙂

    – Wings

  251. Mikeon 20 Jul 2010 at 11:01 am

    Interesting… (isn’t hemokinetic one of the coolest words EVER?)

    I will admit, Synth and Masochist being together sorta threw me off, but otherwise it looks awesome. (Get it published, and I’ll totally snag it.)

    Actually, for a little while, I thought Darken was a word you’d made up for your book… and then I remembered my vocabulary. LOL i felt kinda stupid.

    Is ‘Hikari’ a variant of ‘Hikaru’? They mean kinda the same thing, right?

  252. Wingson 20 Jul 2010 at 11:29 am

    Although my research is choppy in parts, from what I remember “Hikaru” was a unisex name meaning “light” or “brightening”; while Hikari straightforwardly meant “light’.

    I am in full agreement on the word “hemokinetic”. 😉

    Yes! I now have at least one person who will buy my book! *victory pose*

    – Wings

  253. Mikeon 20 Jul 2010 at 11:38 am

    lol *claps at the victorious pose*

    I learned what Hikaru meant from LEGO, actually, if you can believe that.

    btw, Wings, would you mind listening to a couple of ideas I had for They Call Us Gods?

  254. Wingson 20 Jul 2010 at 11:40 am

    Why not? Let’s hear ’em. I’m nowhere near as good a reviewer as B. Mac or one of the other site veterans, but I’m okay…I think.

    – Wings

  255. Mikeon 20 Jul 2010 at 1:35 pm


    Basically, I’m going for a less spandex-intensive superworld where superhero ultrahumans are generally field agents for a state department called OSHA (Office of Superhuman Affairs). Basically, I’ve changed numerous facts about the world in general. For one, the Confederacy won the American Civil War. For another, Nazi Germany wasn’t abolished at the end of World War II. Israel was instated as a nation in 1946. So on and so forth.

    I’m still working on which main character I’m going to use (I’ve gone back and forth several times), but here are some character ideas I had:

    /Eli Rook – his main power is one that’s kinda hard to define. I guess it could be considered a form of empathy. Basically, he acts as a spiritual mirror. Anyone who makes eye contact with him see a reflection of their soul – he’s powerful enough in this respect to put murderous supervillains on their knees, sobbing and screaming. As a result, he wears sunglasses or a blindfold at all times. His codename will be something like Soulbreaker (which was suggested by my little brother).

    /Jonah Jones – his power is elemental absorption and transformation. He can absorb the properties of any solid material he touches, and each form gives him new powers. (For example, absorbing concrete grants him durability and superstrength; absorbing metals gives him superstrength; absorbing rubber grants him a superhuman leaping ability; absorbing wood gives him enhanced strength and regeneration; absorbing diamond gives him invincibility and enhanced strength; etc.) I’m having trouble coming up with a codename for him. Maybe Osmosis Jones (if I want to get sued XD ) or something.

    The other characters are the characters I’ve already decided upon for the rest of the cast:

    /Aaron Zazic – his powers are superstrength, flight, and invulnerability. He and his sister Kai are the children of a famous superhero, making Aaron somewhat arrogant. His codename is Paladin.

    /Kai Zazic – her powers are superstrength and invulnerability, as well as a danger sense and a form of echolocation. (The echolocation serves as a substitute for her eyesight, since she’s blind.) Unlike her brother, who has a massive hero complex, she’s sarcastic and blunt. She’s also the shortest member of the team. I haven’t come up with a good codename for her yet.

    /Shane and Sarah Cross – a pair of elemental twins. Shane has pyrokinesis, and Sarah has hydrokinesis. I figured it’d be funny to take the cliche twin-sibling rivalry to a new level by giving them opposing powers. Shane’s codename is Burnout, but I haven’t come up with one for Sarah yet. Any suggestions?

    That’s all I have so far. What do ya think?

  256. Wingson 20 Jul 2010 at 2:11 pm

    As I’m about to leave and be unable to reach the Internet until Thursday, I cannot offer advice at the moment. I shall go more in-depth upon my return.

    Before I go, I suggest Torrent as Sarah’s codename.

    …I will return!

    – Wings

  257. Mikeon 20 Jul 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Aight, thanks. Bon voyage and all that.

  258. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 11:53 am

    “Basically, I’m going for a less spandex-intensive superworld where superhero ultrahumans are generally field agents for a state department called OSHA (Office of Superhuman Affairs). Basically, I’ve changed numerous facts about the world in general. For one, the Confederacy won the American Civil War. For another, Nazi Germany wasn’t abolished at the end of World War II. Israel was instated as a nation in 1946. So on and so forth.”

    I was never that knowledgeable about alternate histories, but from what I’ve learned here I think I’m right in guessing that your novel has a dystopian setting. Dystopias are unusual beings – to write them, an author has to walk the fine line between angst-inducing death lands and merely dark lands. I imagine that it would be hard to write well.

    “/Eli Rook – his main power is one that’s kinda hard to define. I guess it could be considered a form of empathy. Basically, he acts as a spiritual mirror. Anyone who makes eye contact with him see a reflection of their soul – he’s powerful enough in this respect to put murderous supervillains on their knees, sobbing and screaming. As a result, he wears sunglasses or a blindfold at all times. His codename will be something like Soulbreaker (which was suggested by my little brother).”

    Firstly, I like his power. Still, if written incorrectly he might come off as overpowered. After all, if you can make the equivalents of, say, Doctor Doom, Galactus, and Magneto curl up in the fetal position in dark corners…Not much room for suspense (Although I’m curious about how he would cope with a blind villain. Could be an interesting plot twist). I myself would call it empathy rebound in short. However, Soulbreaker is a little too…cheesy for my tastes. However, if your book was set in your reality’s version of the Gold/Silver Comic Book Ages, it might actually work well.

    “/Jonah Jones – his power is elemental absorption and transformation. He can absorb the properties of any solid material he touches, and each form gives him new powers. (For example, absorbing concrete grants him durability and superstrength; absorbing metals gives him superstrength; absorbing rubber grants him a superhuman leaping ability; absorbing wood gives him enhanced strength and regeneration; absorbing diamond gives him invincibility and enhanced strength; etc.) I’m having trouble coming up with a codename for him. Maybe Osmosis Jones (if I want to get sued XD ) or something.”

    I’m not loving his name. I don’t know what it is…Maybe it’s because first-last initial sameness makes me think of Golden Age Marvel and DC (Did you ever notice that all of Superman’s love interests have “L.L.” as their initials? Lois Lane, Lana Lang…LEX LUTHOR?! WHAT THE HELL?!). His power made me immediately think of that Cartoon Network show Ben 10 alien Force, most likely since one of the main characters possesses an extremely similar ability. I’m unsure if it’s similar enough to warrant a lawsuit, but you should probably talk to B. Mac or someone similar about that. I’m also drawing a blank on codenames for him, but something will probably come to me soon enough.

    Personally, I prefer Eli as a protagonist. The powers intrigue me, and depending on his personality he could be very interesting to read.

    “/Aaron Zazic – his powers are superstrength, flight, and invulnerability. He and his sister Kai are the children of a famous superhero, making Aaron somewhat arrogant. His codename is Paladin.”

    Does his last name have any special meaning? It threw me off upon reading it…Is it his superhero parent’s codename or something similar? I’m getting “Shazam” vibes. His power set is essentially the Flying Brick*. This set is difficult to make fresh and interesting as, (a) it’s very basic, sort of like the superhero default, and (b) it’s been done many, many times. There are a few Paladins on this site already, and Marvel has one, which could pose a problem somewhere down the line.

    “/Kai Zazic – her powers are superstrength and invulnerability, as well as a danger sense and a form of echolocation. (The echolocation serves as a substitute for her eyesight, since she’s blind.) Unlike her brother, who has a massive hero complex, she’s sarcastic and blunt. She’s also the shortest member of the team. I haven’t come up with a good codename for her yet.”

    Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can…I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.

    Compared to her brother, her powers seem more…diverse. I also think she could afford to lose at least one. The echolocation strikes me as less effective than the others. Alternately, since her power set is extremely similar to her brothers, why not try changing it up a bit? Writing power clones gives less to work with in terms of fight scenes, I think. I like her personality, though, especially in contrast to her brother. Thanks to my song, the only name coming to mind is Spider Lass. I’m really very sorry. 🙂

    “/Shane and Sarah Cross – a pair of elemental twins. Shane has pyrokinesis, and Sarah has hydrokinesis. I figured it’d be funny to take the cliche twin-sibling rivalry to a new level by giving them opposing powers. Shane’s codename is Burnout, but I haven’t come up with one for Sarah yet. Any suggestions?”

    Unfortunately, this has also been done. If you are going to go with opposing elemental powers, why not get a little more original than fire vs. water? I think that water vs. earth could be interesting, but that’s just me. If you must go with it, I warn you that it will be difficult to pull off. I suggested Torrent for Sarah earlier.

    Overall, you do have a few cliche plot elements. However, if you work away from them, your work does have the potential to be something great. Hope this helped.

    – Wings

    P.S. Spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies. Look out! Here comes the Spiderman…

    P.P.S. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t resist.


  259. B. Macon 22 Jul 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hmm. With Eli Rook, one limitation you might try is that a central supervillain might be so inured to nefariousness that he sees his twisted soul and just doesn’t care. One interesting side-use of this power would be that it presumably wouldn’t cause much harm to someone that’s more or less decent. He could use it to test people. (For example, “If I go into battle with a partner that’s morally corrupt, many people will die. Using my power on him with either kill him and save civilians or will confirm that he is a worthy ally”).

    I don’t like “Soulbreaker” as much as “Eli Rook.” His power and the blindfold naturally make him a rather imposing figure, but I think a name like “Soulbreaker” detracts from that. If he needs a superhero name, could I suggest something like Arbiter or Osiris instead? (In Egyptian myth, Osiris was the main judge of souls).

  260. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Oddly enough, I also possess a pair of elemental twins (Christine/Mistral and Henry/Sirocco from the conceptual Darken sequel. However, they’re both air manipulators and get along rather well) and a short, sarcastic female character (Jazz/Nightshade from HTSTW). Intriguing!

    – Wings

  261. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Firstly, B. Mac, I thank you big time for suggesting Arbiter. IMO, it reflects total butt-kickery.

    Secondly, thanks for the advice. (I’ve never been spectacular at writing anything other than school papers, which I HATE.)

    I intended Eli’s personality to be a sorta quiet, nearly-creepy one. That being said, it’s a side effect of his power – seeing other people’s souls makes him a very introspective person, I guess. (For instance, he likes standing in shadows and looming. That would creep me out. ‘Course, I’m already neurotic thanks to my dad’s constant sneak attacks… I’ll get him some day – LOL.) That being said, it’s a side effect of his power – seeing other people’s souls makes him a very introspective person, I guess. Nothing like Raven from Teen Titans, who strikes me as being more creepy and demonic than her daddy. (I’ve only seen the animated series, but still…)

    One of my rationalizations for having several characters with the Flying Brick powers was that common powers like superstrength (i personally like the name ‘metastrength’, but no one asked me) have a high genetic likelihood of being developed, especially when a parent has the power. Granted, it’s cliche, but superstrength/metastrength is still my all-time favorite power… except maybe laser vision or teleportation.

    I could probably lose Kai’s echolocation, I guess. Although it’d be hard to explain how a five-foot-tall blind girl can kick more villainous butt than her big brother. Maybe it’s just me.

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention about Eli: his power affects everyone. Good guys aren’t harmed as much as bad guys, but still… nobody’s perfect, ya know?

    Wings – a paladin was a sort-of holy knight, if I’m correct. Either that, or it’s a word that can be spelled the same backwards and forwards 😉

    Another thing – Eli’s a christian/messianic. (however, I’m not planning on doing any proselytizing, just for the record.)

    I was considering a plant manipulator, until I saw that Wings had one. So there went THAT idea… heh.

  262. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Also, I wasn’t really planning it being a dystopia (not until later, anyways). I guess the superheroes would serve as Uberpolice or something.

    The twins are optional at this point (heck, everything’s optional at this point), but I figured it’d be a good idea to have at least some clue of where I wanted my characters to go. That make sense?

  263. B. Macon 22 Jul 2010 at 6:37 pm

    “I intended Eli’s personality to be a sorta quiet, nearly-creepy one. That being said, it’s a side effect of his power – seeing other people’s souls makes him a very introspective person, I guess.” I think that makes a lot of sense. It’s an interesting case of a character’s powers tying in (and perhaps even explaining) his personality.

    Also, there’s an interesting parallel between Eli (whose eyes work but sometimes wears a blindfold) and Kai (whose eyes don’t work but can “see” anyway). Speaking of which, if Kai is blind, I think echolocation makes sense and it seems to me that you could probably delete Aaron and/or merge him with Kai. I think Aaron is redundant because you already have a brother-sister pair.

    “Shane has pyrokinesis, and Sarah has hydrokinesis. I figured it’d be funny to take the cliche twin-sibling rivalry to a new level by giving them opposing powers.” I don’t think that giving them fire and water powers would necessarily heighten the conflict between them. I think character conflict usually stems from character personalities and outlooks, although the powers might tie into that. For example:
    –a superscientist or investigator vs. a wizard. I imagine these characters would have very different outlooks and problem-solving styles.

    –A kung fu ascetic vs. a fast-living anything (but particularly someone that relies on external objects, like Ironman’s powersuit or Green Lantern’s ring).

    –maybe a superscientist vs. a battle nun (or a battle pope?)

    –Relatedly, a soldier or police officer (i.e. someone highly disciplined) vs. a criminal or someone else with more “flexible” standards.

    –Calm and tactically sound vs. a juggernaut. (Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this. I find that forward assaults are rarely the most interesting way of resolving a situation, and juggernauts will probably cause the team to charge in more often than it would otherwise).

    –A generally trusting, idealistic combat-oriented character vs. a more cynical investigator, or probably vice versa to create distance between Superman-Batman.

    –Diplomat vs. warrior is probably bland, but maybe something like a SWAT negotiator (i.e. a ruthlessly practical diplomat also trained in violence) vs. a chivalrous warrior whose moral and/or professional code greatly restrains his use of violence.

    COP: They have guns drawn on the hostages, have a history of killing civilians, and their trigger hands are shaking and sweating like they’re at a rave. We need to strike now.
    WARRIOR: The Blue Lanterns never strike first.

  264. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Oh, I missed the blindness. Maybe remove the invulnerability instead? Merely since I think that her danger sense could probably help her evade, and if it doesn’t matter whether she can evade or not because she’s invulnerable, it’s more boring. XD

    – Wings

  265. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Wings – Yeah, invulnerability’s kinda boring, unless there’s some sort of creative weakness (like chocolate or an alien metal called zenthium, which hails from the Dimension of Death in the Destruction Sector).

    B. Mac – Merging Kai and Aaron makes sense, now that I think about it. I’ve been giving my species too much credit – from what I’ve seen, we teenagers rarely have hero complexes. Even those with heroes for parents (like my dad, whom I consider to be a kind-of paramedical Batman, or something).

    How’s this for the twins: Shane’s a stiff-necked hardnose, and Sarah’s a bit of a kleptomaniac and rule-breaker… that have any potential?

  266. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 7:11 pm

    “like my dad, whom I consider to be a kind-of paramedical Batman”

    Paramedical Batman? Your dad is awesome.

    I like the twins’ reimaginings. I’m also in favor of merging Kai and Aaron.

    …I’m tempted to make a Captain Planet joke, but I’ll restrain myself.

    – Wings

  267. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:17 pm

    My dad is TEH MANS. He’s been a paramedic for twenty-five years. Since he’s a bit older, he’s working in a clinic now, but he’s still saved several people who were going to have heart attacks. (he met my mom on the ambulance, actually. she was his partner’s replacement.) Seriously, he got a basic level in like seven different martial arts, he knows how to shoot, he can drive like Jason Bourne if he needs to… shall I go on with his awesomeness?


    I guess I’ll merge Kai and Aaron. However, I’m keeping the blindness and sarcasm. (I’m a very sarcastic person.)

  268. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I think that Kai’s character could work. with the sarcasm. I’ve found that sarcastic characters, both in my work and in others, have some of the best lines…

    – Wings

  269. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Oh, totally. Sarcasm is what makes the world go ’round.

  270. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Sarcasm and chocolate, you mean. XD

    – Wings

  271. Mikeon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:57 pm

    And Doritos. And pizza.

  272. B. Macon 22 Jul 2010 at 8:00 pm

    “Shane’s a stiff-necked hardnose, and Sarah’s a bit of a kleptomaniac and rule-breaker… that have any potential?” Yeah, I think so. I’d try to vary him from a drill sergeant archetype, though.

  273. Wingson 22 Jul 2010 at 8:29 pm

    And, and manga! Lots of manga! And shiny things!

    And I am in full agreement with B. Mac for Shane. Maybe…Hmm…Maybe a really formal and perfectionist personality, instead of being drill-sergeant-like…

    – Wings

  274. Mikeon 23 Jul 2010 at 5:14 am

    I ain’t too into manga, but I’m a sci-fi freak. Shiny things rock. And pretty lights in the sky.

    Alright, that’ll work. I’m still figuring out character details, so don’t be surprised if I suggest seemingly brand-new characters. (they’ll most likely be the same or similar, but some might have different names or abilities or whatever.)

    I appreciate y’all’s advice, so far. It’s really helpful

  275. Wingson 23 Jul 2010 at 11:21 am

    *shoots off fireworks and watches as they explode*

    Shiny and explosions. The guy who invented these is a genius.

    Either way, unless something better comes to me in a dream, I’m changing Darkstar Rising to The Space Between Light and Darkness.

    Now, I should probably get back to work on the second chapter. Once it’s done, I’ll repost the edited prologue and first chapter as well.

    – Wings

  276. Mikeon 23 Jul 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Personally, I look forward to reading them, Wings.

    P.S. you’re exactly correct – the Chinese knew what they were doing when they made fireworks. (that being, we’ve perfected them. god, I love those huge explosions.)

  277. Wingson 23 Jul 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I finally finished the chapter of TSBLAD (The Space Between Light and Darkness. try to keep up with the acronyms). It’s on my second forum now.

    There is nothing quite like a sky filled with explosions of light with the booming ringing in your ears…Fireworks are awesome…

    – Wings

  278. Mikeon 24 Jul 2010 at 9:35 am

    Okay – I think I have the main characters sorted out the way I want them (at least for now). Their team’s official name will be ‘Zeta Squad’, although some of the team’s members call themselves ‘Team Awesome-Sauce’ or ‘The Undeniables’. (Think about it – it’s very rare for teenagers to like what adults call them. Plus, I’ve been wanting to use Team Awesome-Sauce for some time now.) There will be a pretty large cast, I guess, so I’m open to suggestions for trimming down the minor members of the team.

    *Eli Rook is one of the three main characters. He stays pretty much the same, but I’m making his age eighteen.

    *Griffin Jack – I gave him super-strength and enhanced durability (think a less-invincible Mister Incredible, who wasn’t very invincible to begin with). He’s also one of the three main guys. I decided he’d be sixteen-to-seventeen… somewhere in that area. Although he’s not the most intelligent member of the team, he does have a good head for strategy.

    *Kai Zazic is the third main character. I changed her powers to superspeed and echolocation, although I left the blindness and sarcasm the same. She’s about sixteen.

    Here are the ideas I had for the rest of the team:

    *Kevin Long – the team’s leader. He has a good-sized set of vision powers: namely laser vision, thermal vision, night vision, x-ray vision, and EMR vision (which allows him to detect electrical fields). However, he can only use one power at a time. His laser vision blinds him for a few seconds after he uses it. He’s seventeen or eighteen.

    *Shane and Sarah Cross – I decided I’d change their powers to electrokinesis (Shane) and sonokinesis (Sarah). Shane’s a clean freak and a perfectionist, while Sarah’s a bit of a slob and somewhat kleptomanic. They’re fifteen.

    (The rest of these are optional)

    *Georgie Flynn – a teleporter. He’s somewhat hyper, and prone to being a motormouth. (He also sometimes forgets which dimension he’s in.) He’d be about fourteen.

    *Evelyn Pryde – a terrakinetic. Her powers revolve mostly around earthquakes. She has a bad temper, and she’s prone to causing huge tremors when she loses it. She’s seventeen.

    *Martin Hunter – a former villain’s apprentice. He’s a pyrokinetic. He’s somewhat uncomfortable around the other members of the team, although he does seem to enjoy Sarah’s presence. He’s about sixteen.

    The main supervillain will be either a time manip or an energy manip. Which do you think would work better?

    So what do you think?

  279. B. Macon 24 Jul 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hmm… I’d like to make a suggestion about word choice. When you’re writing the story, I would recommend against calling the characters [prefix]kinetics or talking about [prefix]kinesis, except maybe in a scientific context. I don’t think most readers will know what the terms mean (particularly “sonokinesis”)*.

    *I’ve had to explain to some workshop readers what telekinesis is, and that’s a term that is reasonably mainstream.

    Also, I think there might be a lot of overlap in terms of what Martin, Evelyn and Shane can do and how.

    “some of the team’s members call themselves ‘Team Awesome-Sauce’ or ‘The Undeniables’.” What is the mood of this book like? I think the description of Eli, one of the three main characters, and his powers suggests that the book will have a lot of sober, relatively dark elements. Team Awesome-Sauce is a funny name, but I don’t think it would feel like it fits in the same book. One of the hazards of mixing moods is that it’s harder to find readers that like both.

    If you’re interested in mixing moods like that, I’d recommend using a prominent conflict between one of the dark characters and one of the wacky/irreverent characters to help readers wrap their mind around “wait, why are these guys on the same team?” (If you’re into Teen Titans, the Raven-Beast Boy and Raven-Starfire relationships are probably good examples of that).

    Is the age difference between the characters important?

  280. Mikeon 24 Jul 2010 at 8:58 pm

    The age difference ain’t really very important, except between Kai and Eli (Eli fills the big brother/guardian role, and Kai fills the annoying-little-sister role). Kai’s higher energy level leads to some conflict with Eli, I’d guess.

    The *prefix*kinesis issue you raised makes sense, actually.

    I’m not really going to be mixing moods, i don’t think. Eli and the more somber members of the team will refer to themselves by the name they’ve been given, but the more comedic members think up ‘Team Awesome-Sauce’ in a moment of caffeine-fueled abandon.

    I do plan for it to be a somewhat dark story (i’ve already planned a main character’s death), although I’m a very humor-loving person, and I find it very hard to stick entirely with sadness and stuff like that. That being said, I do understand the need for drama. So I’ll probably stick some humor in every once in a while, just to lighten the mood.

    I had the idea to include a fight in the epilogue between a power-suited assassin and one of the main characters. I had this funny mental image of him/her talking on his/ cellphone to his/her girlfriend/boyfriend while’s he’s dodging missiles and such. I dunno.

  281. Mikeon 25 Jul 2010 at 8:07 am

    Just so ya know, I probably won’t be able to respond for about a week. My family and I (and some people from our congregation) are going to a church conference, and I won’t have internet. So until then, fare-thee-well. I reply to any further suggestions you post when I get back.


  282. Ragged Boyon 29 Jul 2010 at 8:12 pm

    What do you think of “God, The Devil, and the Space Betwixt”?

    Does it sound too generic? Or too lofty? I don’t think it’s gripping enough, but I’m not that good with titles.

  283. B. Macon 29 Jul 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I don’t think it’s particularly generic, but I think it could say a bit more about the plot. For example, who’s the main character? God? The Devil? Somebody else?

    What are God and the Devil doing? (Probably having some sort of conflict, but what?) For example, “God’s Gamble” or “God’s Wager” or “Betting Heaven” would be interesting if the plot revolved around some sort of competition between God and the Devil.

  284. Ragged Boyon 30 Jul 2010 at 9:22 am

    Originally, I was going to do something around lying because that’s the MC’s main mode of operation. the Devil plays a slightly larger role than God, but neither are actual character’s. I was thinking some thing along the lines of:

    “Threachery With The Best” (referring to the devil).

    “The Ninth Circle Shuffle” (Me likey!)

    “Black and White and The Silver Tongue”

  285. Ragged Boyon 31 Jul 2010 at 8:23 am

    I’m still looking for opinions on the titles in the above comment. Any takers?

  286. Cassandraon 31 Jul 2010 at 8:50 am

    What’s the story about? Who are the characters in the book and what are they trying to accomplish.

    The Ninth Circle Shuffle makes me think of a humorous plot (shuffle= some kind of dance) with a MC who’s life sucks like hell. If this is a lighthearted or parody kind of plot then I like this title.

    I’m not really feeling the last title and “Treachery with the Best” seems pretty vague. Although something with the word beast might be cool.

    Also, if this is a book about the conflicting sides, it may be kind of neat to paint a picture of the little devil and little angel on each side of your shoulder. Perhaps: The Little Red Guy on My Shoulder.

    Only not as lame.

    I’m pretty pathetic when it comes to titles as well.

  287. B. Macon 31 Jul 2010 at 9:30 am

    I like “The Ninth Circle Shuffle” a lot. It feels comedic to me. (I could definitely see it working in a lighter work, as Cassandra noted, and possibly something more darker/more cynical).

    “Treachery with the Beast” and “White and Black with the Silver Tongue” strike me as too vague. With the second one, I’d assume it was about a newspaper. With the first one, I think you could be more specific about who is being betrayed, and possibly why.

    If God and the Devil are not major characters, I would recommend focusing more on the protagonist(s). Their conflict with God and/or the Devil is probably more interesting than the God-Devil relationship.

  288. Ragged Boyon 31 Jul 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Yeah, my favorite was The Ninth Circle Shuffle. I think that works best with the events that I’m planning. The MC is quite the slickster and he’s basically going to be pitted against his sins, hi biggest being threachery i.e. lying and betrayal.

    In case anyone’s wondering this is for a short story I’m in planning to do.

  289. Mikeon 02 Aug 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Thank God, thank God, I’m back.

    Anyways, what did you think of my character ideas?

  290. Mikeon 07 Aug 2010 at 9:12 am

    Actually, disregard the characters and such. I’m gonna have to spend a week or two working on them, then I’ll repost ’em.

    Thanks for the help.

  291. Sean Higginson 10 Nov 2010 at 1:36 pm

    My novel title: The Misadventures of Mugsy and Charlie: The Fall of Atlon.


  292. B. Macon 10 Nov 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I love the word Misadventures. I’m not as fond of the rhythm of “Mugsy and Charlie” (unless this is a book for kids, I feel the diminutive -ie sound at the end of both names might feel a bit too cute).

    I don’t know what Atlon is, so “The Fall of Atlon” strikes me as not very interesting. I’m assuming it’s an imaginary place name? Generally, I’d recommend against using imaginary place names in a title unless the names are so evocative that they help create a mood. (IE: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

    This final paragraph has nothing to do with anything. THE DARKEST SHENANIGANS: HOW MUGSY [VERBED] CHARLES

  293. Sean Higginson 12 Nov 2010 at 8:00 am

    OK, I’m hardset on the Misadventures of Mugsy and Charlie. The book isn’t for little kids but it will be a sci-fi comedy and the character names are important to me. As for the subtitle “The Fall of Atlon” I’d be willing to take some advice.

    The story follows a couple of space pirates as they get sucked into a conspiracy by the largest intergalactic corporation, Atlon and a civil war caused by Atlon’s CEO. It’s an ironic look at capitalism and ethics where the pirates seem to be more ethically grounded than a corporate CEO. I know it’s not a lot to go on, but any thoughts/suggestions from that basic premise?

  294. B. Macon 12 Nov 2010 at 9:28 am

    I think replacing “Atlon” with a more distinctly corporate name would help. For example, perhaps something that ends in Corp or Co or something like that. Alternately, you could take out the company’s name and use a corporate phrase to suggest that a company is a major player. For example, “Hostile Takeovers, Space Piracy and Other Misadventures of Mugsy and Charlie.” I think that’ll help make it clearer that this is sci-fi comedy for adults.

  295. Jeremy Melloulon 12 Dec 2010 at 12:34 am

    Hey B. Mac, thanks for all these reviews! I feel like they’ve been helpful but I don’t know for sure. On that note, I’m still unsure about two titles I have and I was really hoping I could get your advice / opinion regarding the titles.

    The first one is “God’s Heretic” and the second is “Amity & War”

    Plot Summary for “God’s Heretic:”
    In a future where a group known as “The Heralds” is globally known and adored for its philanthropic efforts, a Catholic priest’s world is turned upside down when a member of a covert religious group hands him a storage device containing evidence incriminating “The Heralds” of committing religious genocide.

    Plot Summary for “Amity & War:”
    During the American Revolution two friends who were born into slavery seize an opportunity for freedom by joining the royal forces. However, things don’t go as planned and they are forced to desert the British army when a renown slave hunter hired by their master to bring them back finds them. Now hunted by both the British and a famous tracker, their friendship is put to the test countless times as they must confront obstacle after obstacle in a time when they are regarded as property.

  296. B. Macon 12 Dec 2010 at 3:11 am

    I like Amity and War better. I think “Amity” suggests a historical setting effectively because it’s a bit antiquated. I suspect you could come up with a more evocative, stylish substitute for “War,” but I don’t know enough about the series at this point to have a feel for the mood. For example, if one of the main themes was how gruesome the war was, something like “Amity and Bloodshed” might provide a more interesting mix of sounds and images.

    “God’s Heretic:” The element I like most about this is that it covers the religious angle. However, I don’t think it does much beyond that. I think “God’s” is sort of redundant with “heretic” because either implies religion.

    You might be able to imply religion AND set up an interesting contrast with something like “Heralds of Genocide” or “Heralds of [OTHER BAD THING].” Alternately, any contrast between wholesome religious ceremonies/imagery and nefariousness could work. “Twisted Sabbath” comes to mind.

  297. Jeremy Melloulon 12 Dec 2010 at 4:24 am

    Do you mean you like the idea of “Amity & War” better than the idea for “God’s Heretic?”

    I do like “Amity and Bloodshed” (a lot) – my secondary title was “Amity & Enmity” but I felt like it might sound a bit meaningless in its ambivalence despite the nice parallel between both parts of the title.

    As for “God’s Heretic” I liked the irony of the title, do you think it’s not effective? Is the redundancy really outweigh that irony?.While I like “Twisted Sabbath,” I don’t know if it conveys the tone efficiently; it sounds a lot more stylized than I want this graphic novel to be.

    I’ve got some ideas for different titles but none of them feel as strong as “God’s Heretic.”

    “Anarchy: In The Name of God”
    or just “Anarchy” or “Father Anarchy”

    in that vein I have “Father Heresy”

    and separately:

    “A Godless World”

    Just some ideas… For some reason they don’t feel as strong to me as “God’s Heretic” but I trust your opinion over my own in this case.

  298. B. Macon 12 Dec 2010 at 5:45 am

    I feel that the title “Amity and War” or “Amity and Bloodshed” would stick out more to me than “God’s Heretic.” Also, I feel like I’d have a somewhat better idea about what A&W or A&B were about. If I had to guess about “God’s Heretic,” I’d (incorrectly) guess that it was a heaven/hell story about a fallen angel or demon.

    Genre-wise, I feel like A&W/A&B are very easy to identify as historical fiction featuring a war. “Amity” is very dated. If I had to guess about “God’s Heretic,” I’d say historical fiction or fantasy. The word “heretic” doesn’t give me much of a futuristic/sci-fi vibe. (It’s a term that doesn’t get used much nowadays).

    “For some reason they don’t feel as strong to me as “God’s Heretic” but I trust your opinion over my own in this case.” A caveat: I haven’t actually read the story and am rather shaky on the details. (If you’d like to send me chapters or a synopsis, I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com).

    I like Father Anarchy. It feels stylistically distinct to me. The genre is clearer and it provides more information about what’s at stake. “Anarchy in the Name of God” covers most of the same information but is harder to fit onto a cover and probably less stylish. As slight alternatives, what would you think about “Holy Anarchy” or “Anarchy in God’s Name” instead?

    (Minor stylistic point: “Father Anarchy” feels modern and hip. “Anarchy in the Name of God” sounds much more scholarly and serious. For example, Terror in the Name of God was on the syllabus of one of my courses this semester).

    Would anybody else like to offer their opinions? If you saw “God’s Heretic” on a bookshelf, would you (ideally) want to read it or at least want to pass it along to a friend? Would you be surprised if it were a futuristic story?

  299. Jeremy Melloulon 12 Dec 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I see where you’re coming from. Haha sorry, I am accounting for the fact that you don’t know the whole story, but you are and have been bringing up good points.

    On the note of “Holy Anarchy” I was considering “Righteous Anarchy,” too. How do you feel about that? Also, I feel like if “Anarchy in the Name of God” is too scholarly then so is, albeit not as much so, “Anarchy in God’s Name.” I’d rather go with one of the variations of “_____ Anarchy” since, like you said, it’s simpler, more stylish, and conveys the information more efficiently.

  300. B. Macon 12 Dec 2010 at 3:28 pm

    “Also, I feel like if “Anarchy in the Name of God” is too scholarly then so is, albeit not as much so, “Anarchy in God’s Name.” Agreed. I threw it out there because I wasn’t sure if you were going for the scholarly sound.

    I also like Saint Anarchy…

  301. Jeremy Melloulon 12 Dec 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I prefer “Father Anarchy,” still. Right now it’s between that and “Righteous Anarchy.”

  302. B. Macon 12 Dec 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I find Father Anarchy very effective. I think “Anarchy” covers the sci-fi/futuristic elements and using “Father” as a modifier implies the religious angle. One reason I like FA a bit more than Righteous Anarchy is that it puts an interesting-sounding character front-and-center. Using a priest to personify anarchy is an unusual literary device, one I find intriguing.

    RA strikes me as a bit more abstract and passive.

  303. Jeremy Melloulon 13 Dec 2010 at 12:10 am

    Alright 🙂 That’s what I’m going one with then, disregard that part of the email I sent you.

    Thanks for the help!

  304. Ivanon 21 Jan 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Hey, don’t know if anyone still looks here, but I was wondering what you guys think of “Murdered Worlds” for an upper-YA sci-fi novel?

  305. Nicholas Caseon 21 Jan 2011 at 4:55 pm

    To me it’s a ‘meh’ novel.

  306. B. Macon 21 Jan 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I like Murdered Worlds. “Worlds” suggests sci-fi and “Murdered” suggests something about what’s going on and what’s at stake. I think the pair works much better than, say, something more passive like “Dead Worlds.”

    A caveat on this next point: I’ve never worked YA. However, Murdered Worlds strikes me as maybe a bit off for that age group, though. (In your defense, it’s not like they’re grade-schoolers).

  307. Nicholas Caseon 21 Jan 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Oh! You meant the title. My friend self published a book with the name, Murdered worlds and I thought someone actually bought it! The title sounds good though at least.

  308. Ivanon 24 Jan 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the input! 🙂

  309. Nicholas Caseon 24 Jan 2011 at 8:13 pm

    You’re welcome!

  310. Spazzotron the Conqueroron 24 Feb 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I was planning one called “The Adventures of the Indy Kid” (or, alternately, “The Adventures of the Independence Kid”). Any thoughts/suggestions/criticisms/hateful, hurtful comments?

  311. B. Macon 24 Feb 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Hello, Spazzotron. My main thought is that the genre/subgenre isn’t quite as clear as it could be. Could you give me a rundown of the plot?

    Right now, if I had to guess what “The Adventures of the Independence Kid” is about, I’d say maybe it was a historical fiction about a kid protagonist in 1776 or maybe a story about a younger version of Indiana Jones. With “The Adventures of the Indy Kid,” I’d lean towards Indiana Jones, Jr. or perhaps a NASCAR prodigy.

  312. Spazzotron the Conqueroron 25 Feb 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Well, I’m not entirely sure, actually… I was just suggesting it ’cause I thought it sounded interesting.

    One of the ideas I had for it was a superhero named Independence Kid (a teenaged other-dimensional version of a Superman-expy named Savior-Prime), or Indy Kid. But I dunno. I was just gonna try a short story with it, but that fell through for now.

    The Indiana Jones, Jr. thing is pretty awesome, actually. I’ll probably give that some thought.

  313. danon 07 Mar 2011 at 10:06 am

    does’ fall of the unlikely hero ‘sound good

  314. B. Macon 07 Mar 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Fall of the Unlikely Hero strikes me as a bit bland. There are a lot of kinds of unlikely heroes. Is there an alternate phrase you could use to suggest what kind of unlikely hero we’re talking about?

    For example, my title is tentatively The Taxman Must Die. I think that the contrast between the protagonist’s profession and the physical danger suggests that he’s an unlikely hero and what’s at stake for him.

  315. danon 08 Mar 2011 at 2:21 am

    fall of the prankster

  316. B. Macon 08 Mar 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I like Fall of the Prankster better. It may help to add an adjective, either before Fall or probably Prankster.

  317. Congon 09 Mar 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Accidental heroes

  318. Spazzotron the Conqueroron 10 Mar 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I have a short story I’ve been working on for a little while, and I’m having trouble coming up with a title.

    It’s about a vigilante sidekick named Cloak (think Robin, only a hundred times more homicidal and psychologically unstable) and partially involves his relationship with some of his fellow vigilantes, namely Dagger, his fellow sidekick; Reaper, his mentor; and Blu-Jay, an idealistic archer sidekick.

    I first came up with Young Justice, but then I realized I didn’t want a lawsuit, so I considered Jupiter City Justice. Any suggestions?

  319. h2oon 11 Mar 2011 at 2:30 am

    i m new but i dont think people like to see fictional places in a tilte because no one knows what it is

  320. B. Macon 17 May 2011 at 4:38 am

    I think Jupiter City Justice would make a pretty good series title for a novel, but I’m not quite feeling it as a novel title or a comic series title. (I feel that series titles matter more for comics than novels–for one thing, comic series titles are usually printed in massive size and the issue title is usually much smaller, whereas a novel’s title is the focal point of the cover and the series title is secondary or sometimes not even present).

    “VERY few cities are known as ____ City.” It’s not that common among metropolises–of the 75 most populous American cities, only NYC, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Jersey City end in City. Among the state capitals, there’s Salt Lake City.

    One advantage to using something like City (or another giveaway like -burg, -ville, -polis, -Love Shack, etc) is that it helps readers remember that it’s a city and not a character. I think that’s helpful when the city is named after a person, particularly if that person is a character in the story. (For example, Pottersville in “It’s a Wonderful Life”).

  321. Wingson 18 May 2011 at 9:15 am


    Just so you know, Marvel possesses a vigilante team known as Cloak and Dagger. I’m pretty sure that variations on Reaper are taken, (I know there’s a Grim Reaper in Marvel lore), though I think that Reaper itself is free.

    I’m in agreement with the others that Jupiter City Justice wouldn’t work as a straight-out title. Still, it has a nice ring to it.

    – Wings

  322. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 May 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I dunno about cities not being named “___ City”.

    Sure, all of the capitals of the states in Australia are known by a one-word name – Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin.

    But, officially, for Perth at least, it is “The City of Perth”. Colloquially, “Perth City” or just “Perth”. Similarly, Rockingham is the “City of Rockingham” or colloquially, “Rockingham”, “Rocko” and “Swinging Pig”. Then, there’s Fremantle, officially the “City of Fremantle”, and colloquially “Fremantle” or “Freo”.

    So, I don’t see why Jupiter City can’t be called “Jupiter City”. The locals could call it by some nickname anyway.

  323. Aineon 21 May 2011 at 4:17 pm

    How is “MetaGeneration”? I figure anyone who reads comics will recognize it as a comic about super-powered people.

  324. B. Macon 22 May 2011 at 2:42 am

    I think it’ll be pretty obviously about superpowered people, but I don’t think it says all that much about the story. For example, what are you doing with superpowered people? (IE: “Prince Charming” is a much less interesting, evocative title than “Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming“).

  325. Five-manon 15 Jul 2011 at 9:43 am

    I’m trying to decide between a few different titles at the moment.
    Which of these would interest you the most? Which would jump out if you were browsing in a library/bookshop?

    -The Unwilling Stranger

    -The Stranger Everyone Knows

    I’m thinking of adding -And The Werwolf Wizard War to the end of either of these two.

    -Odder than you

    -Weirdness Magnet (although I think this the name of a trope…)

    Any help appreciated

  326. Mynaon 15 Jul 2011 at 9:49 am

    I’m not B. Mac, but the one that jumps out at me the most is ‘The Stranger Everyone Knows’, because of the contrast there. ‘And the Werewolf Wizard War’ is kinda cool too and I like the alliteration, but adding it to any of the titles might make it a bit long?

  327. Five-manon 15 Jul 2011 at 10:19 am

    I feared I might be making it too long. Thanks.

    ‘The Stranger Everyone Knows’ was one of my favourites, it just seems to click into place.

    Thank you for the feedback.

  328. Payne86on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I’m having trouble with coming up with a title for the super hero story I have come up with. Any ideas or help?

  329. Grenacon 20 Jul 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I’d be happy to help as much as I can. Although you’d have to give us a little more info on your story. What are the key points in it?

  330. B. Macon 21 Jul 2011 at 1:36 am

    Yeah, Payne, it would help me to know more about the story. For example, here are some questions I’d usually ask an author working on a title.

    –Genre/subgenre: We’re talking about superhero action, right? (Or is this some other sort of superhero story?)

    –What are some things distinguishing this from other superhero stories?

    –What’s the central goal of the main character and/or what’s at stake if he loses?

    –What’s the inciting event? (What event throws the main character out of his status quo/comfort zone?)

    –What’s the main character like? (Anything that makes him more interesting to prospective readers or suggests his role–however, please note that using the character’s name in the title does not necessarily accomplish either)

    –What’s the main antagonist like? (Same as for the protagonist)

    –What’s the setting like? (Time and/or place)

    –What’s the author’s style like?

  331. The Jedi Penguinon 23 Jul 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I came across a book today titled The Bad Queen. I was slightly shocked that a book was allowed to be published with a title like that. Especially considering it was about Marie Antoinette, who had so many different defining traits…

  332. Rogon 04 Aug 2011 at 8:01 pm

    what about something along the lines of “Duality of the Serpent” would soething like that work?

  333. B. Macon 05 Aug 2011 at 1:11 am

    I like ____ of the Serpent, but I’m not feeling Duality. I would have no idea what that story’s about.

  334. CKon 07 Sep 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I think there should be some mention in the article for serialized/periodical style works, as opposed to strictly novels (be them graphic novels or otherwise). Naming obviously follows slightly different conventions for them, or at least makes some things forgivable that aren’t suited to the single-story structure.

    Mainly, allowance for character names or single words. Sure, most people won’t give two hoots about a story simply called “Peter Parker” or “The Adventures of Clark Kent,” (assuming you aren’t already familiar with those obvious names. But using the title “Superman” falls under both single-word titles AND names, and yet is clearly acceptable for a traditional comic book. Yeah, you change the title a bit if it’s a stand alone graphic novel or special collection of comics, like a trade paperback edition called “The Death and Life of Superman” that collects all the books that dealt with his death and then return.

    But there are countless highly popular comic book titles that are both a character’s name and a single word; Batman, Green Lantern, X-Men, X-Factor, etc. Perhaps you could amend the article to make mention of these particular types of one-word, character name titles, specifically addressing when it is appropriate to use them.

    But hey, who am I to tell you how to do your job? For the record, I did appreciate the article, and fully plan to come back to it the next time I’m on a title hunt for a new story. Thanks!

  335. Peteron 06 Nov 2011 at 8:19 am

    Would having the acronym but with the proper meaning underneath work if it gave the reader the impression of what the novel will be about?

  336. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I think it depends what the acronym is.

  337. Anonymouson 21 Nov 2011 at 4:37 pm

    What would be a good title for a story about heroes who accidentally got their powers? By accidentally, I don’t mean they were walking by a secret laband it exploded. I mean that there were five other people who were supposed to receive powers from an alien race, but through a ridiculous series of mistakes, the main characters receive the powers, and the alien race has to set about destroying the Earth with the mcs, who are nowhere near as gifted as the five original candidates were. What do you think?

  338. B. McKenzieon 21 Nov 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Is it a ridiculous comedy? (Also, are the heroes trying to destroy the Earth or save it? It sounds like they got their powers from a villainous set of aliens).

  339. Anonymouson 21 Nov 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Yeah it is a ridiculous comedy. The storyline is that the aliens want to destroy Earth to prevent the return of a race of parasitic organisms. They have warned earths heroes to no avail, so they take matters into their own hands and accidentally give the mcs powers. I haven’t exactly worked out why the heroes are helping the aliens yet. But yes they are trying to destroy the Earth

  340. Anonymouson 22 Nov 2011 at 8:45 am

    Hmmm I like Destroying the World and Other Fun Ways to Spend Your Free Time

    The main characters are all juniors and seniors in high school. I can describe the mcs if you’d like

  341. payne86on 01 Jan 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I’m having trouble with a good title name for my 3 part vampire fantasystory. Its supposed to be (blank): the bloodbath, followed by (blank): the summoning and then (blank): the clensing. Any ideas or anything would greatly help me

  342. B. McKenzieon 01 Jan 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Uhh… what’s the story like? Could you give me at least a few sentences of description? What’s the main character like? What’s at stake for him/her?

  343. payne86on 06 Jan 2012 at 7:56 am

    Well, its froom the point of view of the villain. Its in a fantasy world with vampires, angels, large creatures called demons, werewolves, elves, dark elves and of course humans. The main villain/ main character is xander, who is a vampire and the leader or king of his race. He fights against the other races with aid from the werewolves. Its more or less a large series of wars and battles involving 2 families, the argyles(xander) and the merimovs, who fight for different reason but equally want to change the world. Its very violent and action based with a 3 part series involving the family line through generations. The 1st series is bloodbath, its all about a war between races to eventuually take over or change the world after a huge corporation known as metal corp technology takes over all main stream tech(its not very advanced but is still tech). The 2nd series is called summoning, where we follow hunter, the son in the merimov family, on a journey to find a way to cure a “demon” inside of him. Upon the journey he meets and be friends a group of treasure hunters who together find an ancient relic that’s said to save the world. When they open the relic a teenaged girl drops out. Hunter eventually finds true love and how to cure his demon while once again aiding the world against the evil metal corp. The 3rd series is the clensing where the humans have been busy wiping out the other races due to events from the previous 2. With almost every race extinct, the great grand son of the now deceased xander has to stop metal corp one last time with the aid of old friends and family of his grand fathers. The 2nd is more or less a love story with action in it and the 3rd and final one is similiar to the 1st with violence and action.

    So I hope that helped, I need a title that can interlock the 3 stories together.

  344. Shannonon 16 Feb 2012 at 10:07 am

    For an example of a character name working well for a title, see Skulduggery Pleasant.
    My dragon novel is currently titled “The Dragon Will Not Shut Up” I chose this after deciding against “the Dragon and the Thief” and “A Dragon and A Thief Walk Into A Bar…” (the latter is now a chapter title.)
    Any comments on these titles? Could you help me to make them better, or suggest alternatives.

  345. Cuddleson 19 Feb 2012 at 9:42 pm

    What do you guys think of “Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater” as a genre-blending superhero novel that ends with Neptune battling the Aztec storm god Quetzalcoatl?

  346. B. McKenzieon 20 Feb 2012 at 1:42 am

    I like the word “Hath” here because it’s appropriately archaic. However, besides the archaic vibe, I think the title could tell more about what’s at stake and/or what’s notable here.

    Also, I think “Made Greater” could be rephrased more smoothly as something like “Blessed.” It might also help to rephrase “Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater” as something like “Thunder Hath Blessed Him” or “[INTERESTING NOUN PHRASE], Blessed By Thunder” or “[INTERESTING NOUN PHRASE], Son of Thunder”

  347. YoungAuthoron 20 Feb 2012 at 11:40 pm

    @Shannon- i like your title b/c it stands out. it makes someone who is looking at the book think “Dragons can’t talk” which in turn may intice them to pick the book up.

    I have a story title called “High Acceleration” about a superhero teen (super-speed is his main power) who finds his way through the life of being a supre powered being and dealing with certain challenges of being both a high-school teen and mainly a hero that people look up to. What does everyone think?

  348. Cuddleson 21 Feb 2012 at 11:00 pm

    @Young Author: I feel like “High” is kind of a weak adjective in this context. “Rapid” stands out more, but even then, I feel like it’s too general. This title would work really well if you were trying to make sound like an ironic take on the “thriller” genre, but I don’t think that’s what you’re shooting for.

    If I were you, I’d look into racing terminology, something that suggests a high-speed story and simultaneously hints at an underlying theme or feeling. For example, something like “Blinding Speed” could imply that it’s a story about someone who moves too fast to see what’s in front of them, giving the reader the impression that at some point crap really hits the fan. Likewise, “Caught in the Slipstream” makes me think of a protagonist constantly in pursuit of something that is always just a few steps ahead of him or her.

    I found this link while I was writing this comment (http://www.club4ag.com/faq_and_tech_pages/racing_terminology.htm). Not sure if this helps or not.

  349. Cuddleson 21 Feb 2012 at 11:30 pm

    @B. Mac: I guess the real question with Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater is whether or not it is acceptable to use a Miltonic reference as a novel title in this context. I plan on including a larger quote as one of the two epigraphs of my novel:

    “The world of the comic book is the world of the strong, the ruthless, the bluffer, the shred deceiver, the torturer and the thief.” –The Seduction of the Innocent

    “The mind is its own place and in itself
    Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
    What matter where if I be still the same,
    And what I should be, all but less than he
    Whom Thunder hath made greater?” –Paradise Lost, Book I

    Particularly, the phrase comes from Satan’s description of God as a being superior only in power. Even though Satan himself doesn’t appear in my novel per se, I figured this title was appropriate for both symbolic and thematic reasons. It is symbolic in that my draft is book-ended by a prologue in which the main villain (a version of Faust) kills his electricity-themed arch-nemesis, the Sensational Shockman, and a climactic battle between the aforementioned deities (both scenes involve lightning in some form). It fits thematically because even though I’m writing a story about a high school girl following her runaway brother into a DC/Marvelesque universe (complete with all the hero/villain machinations one would expect), the quote is about rebellion, morality, power, running away from home, enduring horror, staying true to oneself, and refusing to back down in the face of overwhelming odds–all of which are concepts I associate with not only cosmic superhero battles, but also with the day-to-day realities of troubled teens. Don’t get me wrong about the last bit, though. I’m shooting for the literary equivalent of a strong “R” rating, not the YA market.

    Also, Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater is also surprisingly sequel-friendly, as the sequel (which features aliens pretty prominently) could be called When The Stars Threw Down Their Spears (from “The Tyger”).

    I’m rambling. Sorry.

  350. B. McKenzieon 22 Feb 2012 at 12:23 am

    I feel like there might be a disconnect between going with a Milton reference in the title (and presumably a Paradise quote in the book itself) and naming a character the Sensational Shockman. Who’s the target audience? (In particular, if the target audience is mature and cerebral enough to appreciate Milton references, would they be receptive to teen characters? If (most of?) the main characters are adolescents but the readers are adults, what would be your plan to make this feel more on-target for the readers than most YA stories*?)

    In particular, it might be possible to come up with a more modern name that feels superheroic but mature/serious. For example, Dark Cloud Descending used “Clarion” for a fallen angel character.

    Another possible approach, albeit one that probably isn’t applicable here, would be going deliberately over the top for comedic effect. For example, Dr. Horrible had a group of villains called the Evil League of Evil, which I thought was a funny take on avowedly evil groups like the Injustice League.

    *Case in point: I think that the protagonists in Ender’s Game were somewhat relatable to adults even though they were very, very young. Although youthful drama played a role, the war against the alien menace was very much the heart and soul of the story. In contrast, something like I Am Number Four will send most anybody older than 18 screaming for the hills. There was technically an alien menace, but more or less every line of dialogue sounded like it was written for a CW teen drama.

  351. YoungAuthoron 22 Feb 2012 at 9:58 am

    @Cuddles- i really like the link you put up, and i took a look at it, but i think i’m gonna stick with my title (for now) Thanks though!

  352. Anonymouson 22 Feb 2012 at 11:22 am

    What do you think would be a good title for a novel about a group of heroes that must stop a man (Kayden) from resurrecting a group of malevolent gods that will rewrite the entire universe the way Kayden wants it to be? I was thinking something like Grappling With Gods, because the main characters meet each other because they all do the sport of grappling, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

  353. Cuddleson 23 Feb 2012 at 5:57 pm

    For Thunder, the main characters are split between teenagers (four of them) and comic book characters (specifically, an elf sorceress, a time-traveling super-scientist, a chainsaw-wielding mercenary, and a pulp-style vigilante) whose plot lines intersect at various intervals and who play pivotal roles in fleshing out different aspects of their shared universe (aspects that all figure into the main plot). The Sensational Shockman (adjective not final; considering “Astonishing”) does not refer to himself as such, but the moniker is mentioned by the kids who see him (in the comic) as just a relic of 1938 that somehow kept in publication into the 21st century. My intention is to establish a sort of tonal parallax between the more campy version the kids imagine and the more serious reality of what life in that universe is like. It’s kind of an odd concept, but I’m convinced it depends more on my ability as a writer (for better or worse) than it does on anything inherent to the story.

    That’s also the other reason why I chose Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater as a title, because ideally, it’s the kind of title that would be interpreted as more flamboyant than pretentious, given the subject matter. Even though it is Miltonic, it also kind of reminds me of the Lee/Kirby titles from the old FF days, so it also strikes me as kind of campy too.

    Would it help if I added some exclamation points in order to make it look a little more pulpy or would that just be kind of garish?

    I’m open to the idea of picking a title with more modern diction, but given that storm/lightning imagery is so popular and that Dark Cloud Descending is already taken as a title…I just don’t see it.


  354. B. McKenzieon 23 Feb 2012 at 8:58 pm

    “My intention is to establish a sort of tonal parallax between the more campy version the kids imagine and the more serious reality of what life in that universe is like. It’s kind of an odd concept, but I’m convinced it depends more on my ability as a writer (for better or worse) than it does on anything inherent to the story.” I’m not worried about your writing ability. Or even necessarily the concept. So far, I think my biggest concern would be that I’m having trouble visualizing how the concept sets up interesting characters and goals/conflicts.

  355. Cuddleson 24 Feb 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Alrighty. I’ll keep that in mind while I finish my draft (I’m almost two thirds of the way through) and then get back to you. Thanks for the input.

  356. Anonymouson 16 May 2012 at 9:50 am

    for a first superhero book what should you but besides there names?

  357. B. McKenzieon 16 May 2012 at 10:11 am

    “For a first superhero book, what should you put besides their names?” Ideally, you’d use concepts which showed your plot and/or what separates your book from other books in its field. For example, I did The Taxman Must Die for a book about an unpowered accountant teaming up with superheroes to prevent a supervillain from murdering him. Here are some things I hope readers take away from the title:

    –For a superhero story, the main character is unusual. The plot is very much about a fish out of water (in this case an IRS agent on a superpowered SWAT team).

    –The stakes are high and the plot revolves around a character trying not to get killed.

    –The book is an exciting comedy.

  358. Hotrod198on 09 Jul 2012 at 8:45 am

    Is it a good idea for a title if it also shares the same name as the main character’s hero identity? For example, my superhero is known as Shift. I was also planning on calling the novel Shift as well. Would that be a reasonable title or should I think of something else perhaps related to the plot?

  359. Agnion 25 Sep 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Normally I like one word titles. Most of my published stories have one word title. I was considering to name the superhero novel I am writing in one word. But after reading this article, I must reconsider it now.

    I have a question. Do I have to name every chapter of the novel or can I just write chapter 1, chapter 2 etc.?

  360. B. McKenzieon 25 Sep 2012 at 10:31 pm

    “Do I have to name every chapter of the novel or can I just write chapter 1, chapter 2 etc.?” Your choice. As a reader, I appreciate tables of contents that add to the books (e.g. because of witty and/or intriguing chapter titles), but as an editor, I’d never ask a novelist to add chapter titles.

  361. Dragondevilon 26 Sep 2012 at 6:53 am

    You have published stories in India?
    Can you name some of them.
    I would really like to check them out. ^_^

  362. Agnion 26 Sep 2012 at 7:14 am

    @ Dragondevil.

    Those stories are in assamese which is my mother tongue. I dont think you understand that language.

  363. Dragondevilon 26 Sep 2012 at 7:17 am

    The one which you are working on right now is English though,right?

  364. Agnion 26 Sep 2012 at 7:22 am

    I am writing it in english. But i am planning to translate it into assamese and see which one gets published.

  365. Dragondevilon 26 Sep 2012 at 7:40 am

    All the best for your novel!

  366. YellowJujuon 17 Oct 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Is “A Man on the Inside” a good title for my book?
    Or does it sound like some spy thing?
    I have a nagging feeling that I’ve already asked this question, if I have, sorry. Haha

  367. Dragondevilon 17 Oct 2012 at 10:44 pm

    When I read “A man on the Inside”

    It seems to me like the story is one of those split-personality ones or maybe a guy like Hulk comes in my mind….

    But I think it is a nice choice for a agoraphobic….

  368. B. McKenzieon 18 Oct 2012 at 7:20 am

    “A Man on the Inside” strikes me as a story about someone undercover (perhaps an undercover cop inside a criminal organization, a criminal mole inside a police agency or spy agency) or perhaps a guy who is trapped somewhere (e.g. in prison).

    Dragondevil, if it were something like the Hulk, I’d recommend a variation like Inside Himself, The Man Inside Himself, or perhaps On the Inside of Himself.

  369. YellowJujuon 18 Oct 2012 at 5:07 pm

    @ B. Mac
    I was intending to make a play on the undercover thing.

  370. The Milky Wayon 01 Dec 2012 at 8:05 pm

    What’s your stance on books with titles that have a foreign word in them? Titles such as:

    ” The Key of Konnichiwa “.

    Would you say that it would throw them off?

    It’s because one of my short stories has an Arabic word in the title. Would one just change the ” Key of Konnichiwa ” to its English counterpart, ” The Key of Hello “? Only then would it make any decent sense?

  371. B. McKenzieon 01 Dec 2012 at 9:52 pm

    “Would one just change “The Key of Konnichiwa”… “The Key of Hello”? Only then would it make any decent sense?”

    If I saw “The Key of Konnichiwa,” I would assume that Konnichiwa was a bizarrely-named person*. With “The Key of Hello” or “The Key of Greetings,” I’d have a somewhat better idea of what the title was trying to convey, but I giving something more concrete about the plot and/or main characters would probably make the story sound more interesting. Gambatte!

    *A person named “Good Morning” would be the first thing that came to mind.

  372. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Dec 2012 at 4:03 pm

    @B. Mac,

    What do you think about two-part titles for stand alone novels? (For example, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”)

  373. mythos manon 20 Dec 2012 at 11:04 pm

    my story is about beginnings of the superhero team Liberty Force. the main protanginist is some who isn’t in his nature an obvious hero, like superman or spider-man, but never refuses to quit which is what makes him a hero despite at first not being a hero personality-wise. right now i’m thinking of calling it Liberty Force: Uprising.

    any thoughts would be appreciated, cheers.

  374. B. McKenzieon 21 Dec 2012 at 2:29 am

    Hello, MM. One concern I have about Liberty Force: Uprising is that the title is sort of generic and doesn’t give us all that much to differentiate the story from other stories about superhero teams. “Liberty Force” covers that this is a superhero team story, which is a plus, but personally I’d need something else to convince me to pick up the book off the shelf. For example, I think titles like The Taxman Must Die, Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming, and His Majesty’s Dragon do a pretty good job of introducing something interesting about a main character and what’s at stake. I’d strongly recommend rephrasing Uprising as a longer phrase to give more details about the plot and/or characters. Sometimes, as a way to generate draft titles as temporary placeholders, I combine elements which contrast in an interesting way. For example, something like “America Against the Squirrel Uprising” gives us a lot more information about the story (i.e. a wacky action-comedy) than just “Uprising” would.

    Also, when you’re ready to submit to publishers, I’d recommend thinking about different and sharper ways to make the main character sound unique and interesting–e.g. it might help to mention a critical decision he makes that almost no one else would in the same situation or use details to flesh out how his personality is notably different than that of most superheroes. “The main protagonist isn’t naturally an obvious hero… but never refuses to quit, which is what makes him a hero despite at first not being a hero personality-wise.” This sounds similar to most of the superhero submissions I’ve seen. The first thing that comes to mind is Spider-Man (well, almost every young superhero).

  375. JVKJRon 21 Dec 2012 at 10:34 am

    My book’s name was originally Clerian. That’s the name of both several places and several people throughout the world’s history. I’m trying to think of something better, though.

  376. B. Macon 21 Dec 2012 at 11:20 am

    I like Clerian as a character or place name, but I would suggest something more descriptive and informative for the book title. Alternately, maybe lighter on the information/description and heavier on setting a mood (e.g. Silence of the Lambs and Heart of Darkness).

  377. mythos manon 23 Dec 2012 at 1:07 am

    @B. McKenzie

    “For example, something like “America Against the Squirrel Uprising” gives us a lot more information about the story (i.e. a wacky action-comedy) than just “Uprising” would.”

    what about “Liberty Force: A Hero’s Destiny”?

  378. B. McKenzieon 23 Dec 2012 at 11:21 am

    “What about ‘Liberty Force: A Hero’s Destiny'”?

    Personally, I don’t think “A Hero’s Destiny” tells me anything interesting about the story that “Liberty Force” doesn’t. At the very least, I’d recommend replacing “A Hero’s” with some unexpected modifier. I’m not sure what would fit your book, but I’d be more inclined to pick up something like “Liberty Force: Fatal Destiny” or “Liberty Force: Grim Destiny” because there’s an implication of danger, a better contrast, and slightly better characterization.

    PS: “A Hero’s Destiny” sounds like it could be added into pretty much any superhero title–e.g. Spider-Man 2: A Hero’s Destiny. I’d recommend making your title more specific to your book.

    PS2: I would generally recommend against working in destiny or prophecies into the title unless the characters are trying to escape them. Otherwise, I think it may cue prospective readers that “This book is about a character trying to fulfill his destiny” –> “This book is unsurprising and boring.”

  379. Kirbyon 20 Feb 2013 at 5:01 pm

    The names I have for two of my current stories are “City of Hags, Dragons, and Two Girls” and “The Galaxy’s Deadliest Delivery Service”. The first is a fantasy with comedy elements, and the second is a sci-fi buddy comedy about a monster delivery service. Do the titles do a good job?

  380. B. McKenzieon 20 Feb 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I like “The Galaxy’s Deadliest Delivery Service.” I’m not really feeling the second one as much — first, “City of” can probably be removed. Adding a modifier for the girls and/or dragons might make them more memorable. Maybe something like (say) Two Disgruntled Girls, One Nihilist Dragon, and Scads of Hags (or whatever would be distinctive and memorable for your story).

  381. Kirbyon 04 Mar 2013 at 3:59 pm

    After deliberating a bit about where the second story was actually going, I think a better idea might be “The World’s Finest Dragon Physician”. Any good?

  382. B. Macon 04 Mar 2013 at 4:42 pm

    “The World’s Finest Dragon Physician” is a great start. “Dragon Physician” is very interesting*, though I think “The World’s Finest” could be replaced by a sharper contrast and/or by something more specific to the plot and the goal. For example, if the story were mainly about his attempts to succeed as a physician in a rather human-dominated field, maybe something like “Do Dragons Have Medical School?”

    *I’m assuming the physician IS a dragon, not a physician that mainly treats dragons. If he’s a physician that treats dragons, but is not a dragon, then I’d recommend replacing “Physician” with “Veterinarian.”

  383. T.K. Mazinon 10 Mar 2013 at 10:54 pm


    Just wondering, would a publisher tell you to change the title of a comic if it was the same as another popular comic? Thing is, I have this series called “Exiles”, which is a title shared by a Marvel series of the same name. Would it be best to change the title or keep it? In terms of the story itself, it is totally different from Marvel’s “Exiles”. It’s not even a superhero story or to do with superpowers. Would appreciate any advise.

    T.K. Mazin.

  384. B. McKenzieon 11 Mar 2013 at 3:57 pm

    “Just wondering, would a publisher tell you to change the title of a comic if it was the same as another popular comic?” Yes. You MIGHT be able to get around the legal issues by going with something like [Unusual Modifier] Exiles. For example, I don’t think the publisher of The Great Gatsby sued the publisher of Gadsby. However, I would assume that a comic book editor has probably heard of Exiles, and likely will make you eliminate the word Exiles altogether. Another advantage of forgoing “Exiles” altogether is that it will make your life a bit easier in Google (because the Marvel series pretty much has Google sewn up shut when it comes to Google searches with “comic” and “exiles” in them).

    Fun trivia: There was also an Exiles series from Malibu Comics in the early 1990s.

  385. T.K. Mazinon 11 Mar 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Ah thank you, B.McKenzie. I just knew what the answer would be before I even asked :D. Thought I’d just make sure anyway. Appreciate you clearing it up for me. And interesting trivia! Good point about google too!

    It’s a shame I can’t use “Exiles” for my story as the whole premise revolves around the title. I’ll do some brainstorming and see if I can come up with an alternative title. But I’m gutted. I always like titles that refer to the characters.

    I’m not sure what else I can call the story at the moment. The only alternative I have is “The Order” and that’s already been used by another Marvel series :D. Damn you, Marvel.

  386. Maxwellon 03 Apr 2013 at 9:12 am

    I don’t understand Number 9 well. Is there any way you can break it down to make it much more clear ?

  387. B. McKenzieon 03 Apr 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Hello, Maxwell. The most important role of a title is interesting new readers. If it doesn’t interest new readers (e.g. because new readers do not know enough about the story to make sense of the title), it probably isn’t a very good title.

    One reason that a title might not interest new readers is if it only really makes sense after the reader has actually started reading. For example, Ekwamedha’s Children needs work because readers don’t know who Ekwamedha is… we don’t know enough to care about either him or his children. In contrast, a title like His Majesty’s Dragon shows prospective readers enough about the title character and plot that they might be interested.

  388. Tyleeniaon 07 Sep 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Does the title ‘THE SUPER-TEENS’ work? If not, please give me suggestions (No bad words, please).

  389. B. McKenzieon 07 Sep 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Tyleenia, instead of just naming a character or group of characters, it may help to develop them or their role in the book in some way (e.g. contrast “Prince Charming” with “Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming” — the longer version does a much better job of developing the author’s writing style and what makes the book distinct). Also, please see #5 above — one-word titles generally are not as interesting as they could be.

  390. Thalamuson 16 Sep 2013 at 9:44 am

    “As Winter Falls” as a title? I just want people to judge it by “would I pick it up off the shelf in a bookshop?”, as it is only a first idea.

  391. B. McKenzieon 16 Sep 2013 at 3:48 pm

    “I just want people to judge it by “would I pick it up off the shelf in a bookshop?”, as it is only a first idea.” It’s not bad, but personally I don’t think I’d take it off the shelf because I don’t know enough about the story. In contrast, one book which I definitely DID take off the shelf was “Snow Crash,” which I think creates a more interesting visual and gripping/urgent foreshadowing than “As Winter Falls.”

  392. Thalamuson 16 Sep 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Fair enough. As I say, it was only really a first idea. Thank you for the feedback.

  393. B. McKenzieon 17 Sep 2013 at 5:41 am

    “It was only really a first idea.” It’s a good starting point.

  394. don 25 Sep 2013 at 12:30 pm

    hello im trying to write a hero novel, the stroy is about a young demi-TITAN (yes i konw that tecnaly hes a demi-god but i like demi-titan) who is the mortal son of the titan kronos and two others as well. a dagher of nyx and a son of atals i have a rough idea for a tital “titan, soul” is this a good tilde

  395. C. Sweepon 14 Oct 2013 at 2:56 pm

    How Long do you think is too long for a title? The story I’m working on right now is titled “The Sweet Life of a Stray Dog”. I might take out the word ‘dog’, I’m not sure yet, but do you think that would be too long?

  396. B. McKenzieon 14 Oct 2013 at 5:15 pm

    “The Sweet Life of a Stray Dog is only 4 words*. Keeping “dog” would not create any length problems. I think 2-7 words* is pretty standard.

    *Not counting minor words like “of,” “the,” and anything else which is not usually capitalized in a title.

  397. Elecon 16 Oct 2013 at 1:28 am

    “9. The title absolutely has to be written for the benefit of prospective readers. If your title only makes sense to readers after readers have finished the book, it’s a poor title. If your title doesn’t wow readers that are completely new to your work, no one will figure out how witty your title was because no one will actually read your book.”

    Is it fine to go against this (slightly) for chapters? The first chapter of my book is called ‘Hair Die,’ misspelt on purpose. Its meaning becomes clear after the reader has read the chapter, but I’m hoping that it will draw people in due to curiosity. Is this okay, in this instance?

  398. ACLon 16 Oct 2013 at 1:40 pm


    Really need help for a title for a story I writing, the only one I could come up with is the mc name, and that is just fail XD

    My mc is a FtM transexual bounty hunter and former runaway in a fantasy world (with mostly fairytale-themes more then a pure-bred high fantasy). Even though he is very bad at fighting if it is not with his fists, he still go out and try to fight a dragon when he hears that it had kidnapped his childhood friend/crush.

    The story are going have themes of the past and getting over the issiues it stems.

    Do anyone have any suggestion?

  399. Zinkaneon 23 Oct 2013 at 9:09 pm

    This just a rough title, but what does the title “Boarding School (For Superheroes)” make you feel the story will be about? What kind of story do you think it will be? Thanks for reading my question.


  400. B. McKenzieon 24 Oct 2013 at 10:12 pm

    “Boarding School (For Superheroes)” gives me a pretty good idea what the story is about and I think it’s okay as a starting point, but I’d recommend tweaking it to make it more distinctive (to help set your story apart from other stories set at a superhero academy). For example, anything interesting about the characters? Anything which shows us something about your writing style? Anything about the mood or tone? Perhaps something more specific about the plot? For example, if I were writing (say) a quirky sort of comedy set at a superhero academy, I might convey that with something like “The Death Ray Will Be on the Test” because it helps cover the superhero angle, the school angle, and a somewhat memorable relationship (and perhaps a conflict) between the characters and the school/teachers. Could you tell me more about the tone and substance of your work?

  401. Zinkaneon 25 Oct 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Well, it’s really a working title. The story isn’t a quirky type of comedy. Overall, the story is lighthearted, with dark tones throughout to make it more gritty and realistic, which will give more reason to care for the characters (let’s face it, we all care more about Frodo Baggins than we do Percy Jackson). If anything, I just need help balancing out the comedy and grit in the title; a title like Tomahawk Pony won’t quite work for me.


  402. whovianandwritingon 04 Dec 2013 at 10:06 am

    what about hall of heroes??? is that good for a team of superheroes

  403. B. McKenzieon 04 Dec 2013 at 3:52 pm

    “What about Hall of Heroes? Is that good for a team of superheroes.” I think it’s okay as a placeholder, but when you’ve finished a draft of the story and are ready to get into rewriting, I’d recommend something more distinctive, preferably something which tells us something about the team besides just that they are heroes. Also, “Hall of” makes it sound like a place name. I wouldn’t worry about it until then.

  404. Jed/Elecon 06 Dec 2013 at 2:17 am

    B. Mac, what’s your thoughts on the following title (it’s inspired heavily by the suggestion you gave above. Hope you don’t mind.): The Aeon Academy: I’d Pick up your Arm; it Doesn’t go with the Floor. It is wordy, so if you had any suggestions on how to crop it down a little I’d be willing to here them. Also, if I’ve made any capitalisation errors, I’d appreciate feedback on that as well. Thanks!

  405. B. McKenzieon 06 Dec 2013 at 8:36 am

    “Also, if I’ve made any capitalisation errors, I’d appreciate feedback on that as well. Thanks!”
    In a title, I’d recommend capitalizing “your” (adjectives), “it” (pronouns), and “go” (verbs).

    “The Aeon Academy: I’d Pick Up Your Arm; It Doesn’t Go with the Floor.” Some thoughts here:
    1) I don’t understand the phrase “I’d Pick Up Your Arm; It Doesn’t Go With the Floor.” Perhaps you could condense it into a single clause and make it clearer?

    2) Is this really critical information? If so, perhaps a rephrase like “Would You Like Your Arm Back?” but my concern here would be that this suggests the arm is a major plot point (e.g. regrowing the arm is the character’s motivation for joining the Aeon Academy). If the point of this phrase is just to suggest that the school is so tough that someone might conceivably lose a limb in training, I’d recommend rephrasing.

    3) In context, will people know whether “Arm” is a weapon or a body part? I’m having an Agent Orange moment here.

    I’m assuming Aeon Academy is the series title.

  406. Jed/Elecon 07 Dec 2013 at 1:30 am

    Well, this is annoying. I wrote a hugely detailed response, but then I clicked ‘post’ and it came up with an error message. I clicked ‘back’ but my response was gone :(. Thanks for the feedback, anyway!.

  407. Jacob Strainon 08 Dec 2013 at 2:44 pm

    How about: Sidekick Wanted: (World-Saving Skills a Plus) for a comedy about a comic book nerd who becomes the sidekick of the world’s strongest hero?

  408. Jed/Elecon 09 Dec 2013 at 2:03 am

    Both your title and your plotline sound very original, at least to me :). You might want to consider removing the brackets, but that’s just really a matter of preference.

  409. BobDobolinaon 07 Jan 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Love your site. I’m puzzled by some of the entries on this list of tips, though.

    Re: 5, for instance. Isn’t the publishing industry replete with hugely successful books that had one-word titles? I mean, just off the top of my head:

    1984, Persuasion, It, Atonement, Twilight, Beloved, Watchmen, Middlemarch, Ulysses, Demons, Disgrace, Foudnation, Coraline, Dubliners, Fingersmith, Scoop, Nerve, Filth, Trainspotting, She, Nemesis, Complicity, Stardust, Blindness, Quarantine, We, Immortality, Gulag, Orlando, Insomnia…

    If a “rule” of yours is being successfully broken this frequently, is it really a useful rule in its current form? Maybe it could use some amplification?

    Similarly with item 3: I can think of dozens of highly successful titles that use character names (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Emma, Madame Bovary, Jayne Eyre, Matilda, Oliver Twist, Anne of Green Gables, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, The Great Gatsby, Charlotte’s Web, Anna’s Book, Zazoo, Carrie, Kim, Pope Joan, Lavinia, The Lies of Locke Lamora, The World According to Garp, Being Emily, Memnoch the Devil, The Island of Dr. Moreau….)

    So… why avoid character names, particularly? I can see wanting to avoid particularly obscure-sounding character names, or needing to have some specific angle on character names if you’re going to use them… but those are different things.

  410. B. McKenzieon 07 Jan 2014 at 9:11 pm

    “Similarly with item 3: I can think of dozens of highly successful titles that use character names…” I notice that most of the titles you’ve mentioned are from before 1950 and/or for children. If you’re writing for adults circa 2014, I generally wouldn’t recommend it unless perhaps either the name is really interesting and/or readers have already heard of the character and/or there’s some other element of the title which makes the name more interesting. E.g. “Harry Potter” would have been a sort of boring title for readers that didn’t know who he was, but “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone” is more palatable.

    “So why avoid character names?” Because prospective readers generally don’t know who your characters are, and generally there are alternatives that provide more context about the character and the plot. One possible alternative would be replacing the character’s name with a job/title/rank which gives us a better understanding of what he does and/or who he is. For example, I think “The Taxman Must Die” is more enticing and informative than “Gary Smith Must Die.”

    “Isn’t the publishing industry replete with hugely successful books that had one-word titles? I mean, just off the top of my head…” I believe these titles could all have been a lot better and, if you were submitting a first manuscript with a title like this, it’d probably be more of a liability than an asset. One alternative which I think would probably have helped here would have been providing a modifier to show us more about what’s going on. E.g. I find “Gulag Archipelago” more interesting than just “Gulag” because it suggests a more epic/sinister scope and creates a memorable visual.

    Hell, I think you could probably make a more interesting title by combining some of these other titles for a new work. For example, if I didn’t know anything about “Filthy” or “Persuasion,” I’d probably reach for a book named “Filthy Persuasion” first. Alternately, “Beloved Quarantine,” “The Insomnia of Immortality,” “The Foundation for Filthy Dubliners,” “We Gulag Demons,” “The Trainspotter’s Nemesis,” etc.

  411. BobDobolinaon 08 Jan 2014 at 3:18 pm

    “I believe these titles could all have been a lot better and, if you were submitting a first manuscript with a title like this, it’d probably be more of a liability than an asset.”

    Heh, so perhaps the key is “wait until you’ve sold a few books before you try any one-word titles”? 🙂

    “The Trainspotter’s Nemesis” does sound like a book I might read, I’ll definitely give you that (likewise “Filthy Persuasion,” albeit maybe not one I’d buy *in* the bookstore, IYKWIM). But the one-word titles I gave above are mostly from my bookshelf, so something made me reach for them and it weren’t always author recognition. My question is, what was it?

    Looking at some of them, I think it’s a case of the one word being really well-chosen or evocative, or raising tantalizing questions in the mind of the reader:

    – I bought “Trainspotting” before I knew who Irvine Welsh was, because the title made me ask a question, or rather several of them — “what about trainspotting? surely he can’t mean the incredibly dull-sounding hobby about watching trains? no, look, it’s about heroin culture, i wonder how the title ties into that?” — and by several questions in I’ve bought a new book.

    – “Blindness” was, interestingly enough, the book that opened my eyes to Saramago’s body of work, and again it was the mystery of the title that stopped me and made me pick it up and look: “whose blindness? blindness to what? is this philosophical inquiry, medical, sociological?” — and the hook was in.

    With a lot of those single-word titles I could reconstruct a similar sequence of questions, or identify some specific resonance the word has (“Nemesis” is always a great word for implying some form of conflict and destiny theme, “Filth” has all sorts of inherent scatological and sexual resonance before you even get to realizing that it’s also Cockney slang for the police, and so on).

    This makes me wonder if character-name titles that work would likewise tend to work if the name being used is *resonant* in some way, or is made so by some other component of the title:

    – “Harry Potter,” for instance — aside from Rowling’s always pairing it with some interesting-sounding object — itself combines an incredibly common British given name with a likewise commonplace surname into a pitch-perfect “everyboy” moniker.

    – “Pope Joan” is a one-liner packed into two words, a female name paired with a (normally) inherently male title. (Like some of the examples above, this invites tantalizing questions: “what do they mean, ‘Pope’ Joan? Is this figurative? Is this about a woman actually becoming a Pope? How is that possible and what would have happened to her?”)

    – “The Lies of Locke Lamora” — aside from using a name vaguely evocative of both the intellectual and the “amor”ous — also tells us that the character being referenced is some form of deceiver or con artist.

    – “Anne of Green Gables” gives us a feminine name redolent with innocence and normalcy and a pastoral-sounding place name, setting up in four words what kind of stories to expect from the character.

    [/random speculation mode off]

  412. B. McKenzieon 08 Jan 2014 at 11:50 pm

    “Heh, so perhaps the key is “wait until you’ve sold a few books before you try any one-word titles”? :)” My suggestion would be waiting until you’ve sold at least 50,000 – 100,000 copies. At that point, I figure you have enough readers that you’re not critically dependent on people randomly browsing through bookshelves. If you have tens of thousands of people familiar with your works, the name matters a bit less as a marketing tool (e.g. you may have economically relevant amounts of people searching specifically for your books and/or introducing your works to new readers). If you ARE dependent on people randomly browsing through bookshelves or Amazon, I’d argue the title is really important.

    “what about trainspotting? surely he can’t mean the incredibly dull-sounding hobby about watching trains?” Ah, I think you’re a lot more generous than the average reader. In most cases, if a prospective reader knows nothing about a work besides that it has a title that sounds incredibly boring, he/she will probably pass rather than try to come up with a scenario where they might like it.

    (Also: If you use a one-word title, sometimes the lack of context can lead to problematic misinterpretations. E.g. “Is this about trains?”)

    I find “Pope Joan” promising. You don’t need to be familiar with the character to pick up the contrast there.

  413. BobDobolinaon 09 Jan 2014 at 4:21 pm

    “Ah, I think you’re a lot more generous than the average reader. ”

    Flattering though that sounds… am I really? Trainspotting was a debut novel by a relative unknown. Yet it was a bestseller long before the ’96 movie boosted it…

  414. B. McKenzieon 09 Jan 2014 at 10:29 pm

    “Trainspotting was a debut novel by a relative unknown. Yet it was a bestseller long before the ’96 movie boosted it…” In general, the quality of a title helps (a lot, I think) but obviously does not guarantee commercial success or failure. Writing quality, an interesting premise, publicity/PR/marketing, media coverage and/or word of mouth can overcome a lot of obstacles.

    “Am I really [more generous than the average reader]?” Yes, absolutely. In a bookstore, start counting how many seconds the average reader spends evaluating a book before moving onto the next one. My guess is that a typical five minutes in the life of an average bookstore browser look something like glancing at 20+ books, reading 5-10 titles, and picking out maybe 2-4 for closer examination and starting to read 0-1. Follow a few readers some time and see how many of the books they consider get more than 5 seconds of their attention. Probably less than 20%. DEFINITELY less than 50%. Five seconds is not a lot of time for a prospective reader to ask why a boring title might subtly hint at something interesting. Your book’s chances of surviving the first 5 seconds are MUCH better if the title and/or cover* are really interesting, and most authors only have a major impact on the title.

    *But even with the cover, in most bookstores most books (especially books from authors that are not bestsellers already) are arranged WITHOUT the cover facing the reader. Assuming you’re not a bestseller already, your best chance of a customer actually seeing the cover in a bookstore is if they’re interested in the title.

  415. Silverstoneon 10 Mar 2014 at 11:25 am

    Hey where do i put my story part for review?

  416. DeMasteron 20 Mar 2014 at 4:22 pm

    im making a comic for my graduation project, the baisc premis of it, a boy sees his mother, whom is a mercanry by the way, “killed” by the man who hired her, and called out for the power to a avenge her. and heven heres him and grants him seven powers one for each of the virtues (note Heaven is a member of an omniscient race in the comic called the wryd like wise with Hell) but as he falls to each of the seven sins he loses the resptive power, there is a foil charter who will be his love interst, and the very ending is a doulde suiced.
    any way, i would like some input how is the tittle
    “Sets of Seven: virtue and vice” or “S.o.S: V.a.V.”
    and if it thoroughly stinks any other ideas?

  417. Dmanon 10 May 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Hi I am a writer in America and am havering trouble naming my story. I am thinking o naming it dragon man or Dragon king but those dont sous promising please help

  418. WorldCupWatcheron 11 Jun 2014 at 10:18 am

    Um, hi, I’m going to skip the introduction part and just skip to my problem.
    I have a superhero story about three eleven year old girls who find out they have superpowers and are being taken under another superhero’s wing to learn how to help save the world. I was going to name it Super SAS (I know right. *Starts handing out barf bags*) because the girl’s names were going to be Selena, Alexandria, and Sadie, and that was going to be their team name. (Don’t worry, I’m changing it.)
    It’s going to be a series of books, ending at the point where they beat the villain (Like Harry Potter) or it was just going to be a big cliffhanger for a new series (like Percy Jackson and the Olympians & Heroes of Olympus)
    Now I’m thinking of calling my story ‘In Session’ because the setting takes place at a school (now I’m wondering if that’s overused and cliché…) where they train and and learn about the history of superheroing.
    Does ‘In Session’ work for the first book? And what should be the series name?

  419. Wolfgirlon 11 Jun 2014 at 3:55 pm

    How is this…

    “The Demon Within Me”

  420. Darkslowbro210on 24 Jun 2014 at 12:12 pm

    How about “The Supah Doods?” It establishes a somewhat comedic nature as well as showing that it’s a superhero story in a more interesting way than “(insert adjective here)man.”

  421. Mynaon 24 Jun 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I really like “The Supah Doods” too. It hits genre and style really well. Are you writing a novel or comic book?

  422. Raksha Killianon 16 Aug 2014 at 12:44 am

    Hi! I need help coming up with a title for my story. It’s supposed to be an action comedy with superheroes but I can’t really think of anything. Please help.

  423. Yubbyon 16 Aug 2014 at 7:16 am

    What is the name of the mc and some other details aboutvthe story like their goals etc. I need more information before I help (I have been told I’m quite good at coming up with names for things! 🙂

  424. Raksha Killianon 23 Aug 2014 at 11:08 pm

    My heroes powers:
    Cardiac – hemomancy (main character)
    Ghoul – mediumship (talking to spirits, ghosts)
    Toreador – animal control
    Mage – telekinesis, optic blasts
    Leo – can shapeshift into big cats
    Lyrebird – mimic others’ powers
    BLIND JUSTICE (I love this name) – super senses that make up for lack of eyesight.
    Arachne- arachnid manipulation, probability manipulation, limited mind control (only works on weak minded, only works on one person at a time)
    Muscle Beast – super strength
    Jester- increased strength and stamina when angered
    Prince- eagle eyed with a sniper, can manipulate weather
    Dragonfly- banshee scream, healing, flight via wings

    Witch – can project pure energy through two wands as a weapon.
    Rogue – flight, minimal animal control
    Heir – telekinesis
    Vespillo – near-superhuman condition (main villain)
    She Wolf – lycanthropy (becoming a werewolf-like creature at will)
    Dolorosa – emotion manipulation
    Succubus – demon physiology
    Marquise – poison generation, scorpion physiology
    Executor – fire manipulation, enhanced marksmanship
    Orphaner – elemental manipulation, enhanced rifleman, enhanced accuracy
    Baroness – zodiac empowerment (Pisces)

    Plot: teen heroes vs adult villains (nutshell). Carter Vasquez and eleven other teenagers have a secret; they’re superheroes. By day they are regular highschool students, teenage drama to deal with and romance issues, by night they become the Weird Kids, superheroes of Sydney. Most days all they do is stop common crimes, like muggings and street fights, until the Onyx Force (villains) show up, giving the teens a run for their money. Shenanigans ensue and then a final battle happens. The End.

  425. Fuegodemonioon 15 Oct 2014 at 5:55 am

    Is something like The Alpha’s War a good title?

  426. B. McKenzieon 15 Oct 2014 at 5:55 pm

    “Is something like The Alpha’s War a good title?” It doesn’t tell me as much about the story as I would like.

  427. Thunderwulfon 16 Oct 2014 at 3:22 pm

    The title of my story is “Darkening Skies”. I was tying to add a sense of foreshadowing to the title this involves my character whose bio is posted on the article A List of Character Traits. For those who haven’t read my post, my character can control and manipulate air, which is the reason for the second part of the title.

  428. Dr. Slavicon 27 Dec 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Titles are so hard. For my novel, I’ve floated around the idea for ‘Above Man: Extinction’ and several variants. Is this title effective, too vague, or too cliche? Does it grip attention or is too bland? I wanted to allow the title to be worked into sequels but work as a standalone as well.

  429. B. McKenzieon 28 Dec 2014 at 1:33 am

    “For my novel, I’ve floated around the idea for ‘Above Man: Extinction’ and several variants. Is this title effective, too vague, or too cliche? Does it grip attention or is too bland? I wanted to allow the title to be worked into sequels but work as a standalone as well.” So… “Above Man” is the series title and “Extinction” is the book title?

    –I suspect that adding 1-3 words to “Extinction” would probably give you more to work with than “Extinction” alone. By itself, it feels generic to me.

    –If “Above Man” is the name of a character, I’d recommend going with something else as a series title. If “Above Man” is NOT the name of a character, I’d be more receptive (though the meaning feels vague/unclear to me).

  430. Redon 28 Dec 2014 at 6:01 pm

    My story is about the Earth an unnamed war (all possible names have been cliché except one which I ‘borrowed’ from a game/anime series) It’s been almost completely destroyed and instead of trying to survive my characters are trying to find it’s cause. I’m really having trouble coming up with a non cliché name. Any tips?

  431. Dr. Slavicon 28 Dec 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Originally, the title was ‘Men Above Man: Extinction’, though I felt it was needlessly wordy. As for the Extinction part, I’m having trouble finding a short phrase or word to replace/expand it. Extinction Squad? It’s about a group of powered people (difficult to find a natural word for superpowered people that’s not mutant) that need to figure out what is threatening humanity and how to prevent it. Words relating to prevention and extinction are awkward to string together.

  432. Blazeon 12 Jan 2015 at 12:24 am

    im toying with titles right now and i want to have people be able to be intrested in the comic by just the title. since nobody here knows anything about my story, i want to hear what you say.
    im thinking “Unlikely heroes or Unordinary heroes” or “the drawbacks of heroism”
    they are all pretty general though, nothing especially tied to the plot

  433. Draven Kraxon 14 Jan 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I am currently working on a novel that centers around demons, but not the Christian kind. It’s set after the demons terrorize the world and force humans to the brink of extinction. I was planning on calling it “A World Without Light,” and the cover was going to be a silhouette of the main character, a half-human, surrounded by purple mist. It was going to be a trilogy, but I thought A World Without Light might intrigue people to read the book to find out exactly why the world is without light. The book is set on Earth, but about 80-90 years in the future. Any thoughts on the title?

  434. Fionaon 31 May 2015 at 6:22 am

    How are these titles?
    The Shape Shifter
    The Journey
    The Second
    I’m writing a series. This is the order, although The Journey can be read first or last or second.

  435. B. McKenzieon 06 Jun 2015 at 11:43 am

    Shapeshifter, Journey, and Second… Yeah, I strongly recommend against using single word titles. I suspect that adding length will give you a better opportunity to convey what the plot is like or why readers should be interested.

  436. CozaTriteon 21 Jul 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I’m searching for a title for my Star Wars fanfiction set during the Clone Wars. It’s just as much a drama as it is an action series, and focuses on four Jedi Knights–the main characters of the fandom Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons–and their missions/adventures during the Clone Wars. They have solo missions and missions with each other, developing a strong bond through both the Force and their friendship.
    There are, of course, conflicts along the way. One of the main characters has a natural affinity for Force Lightning, but refrains from using it because of its Dark Side affiliations. One of the other characters goads him into using it against a particularly powerful enemy. This leaves him in doubt and the entire series is him teetering on the edge between the Light and Dark Side of the Force. The other characters have their own conflicts, both on the battlefield and at home.
    I hope you can help me with ideas for a title with the information I’ve given. If you need more info, just let me know.

    My own ideas so far…
    – The Clash of Lightsabers
    – Clash of Sabers
    – Light of the Force
    – The Force
    – The Dark Forces Plot
    – The War at its Darkest
    – At Its Darkest
    – Across the Stars

  437. Grinny faceon 14 Nov 2015 at 8:14 am

    Hey B. Mac, could use your help with something.

    I’m more or less done thinking up the ideas for my post apocalyptic action/dark comedy story, just having some issues picking a title and hoped you could help. Or maybe even give some ideas for a better title.

    The only ideas i have so far are “Crazies Inc.”, “Disorderly Inc.”, and “Caring Hearts Inc.”. Yeah, the story is kinda business themed, kinda. Honestly i don’t think any of them are that great but they’re the only titles i could think up to fit a story about a bunch of comically homicidal greedy psychopaths.

    So could you give your opinion on which i should pick? Or maybe some ideas of your own?

  438. B. McKenzieon 14 Nov 2015 at 10:34 pm

    “I’m more or less done thinking up the ideas for my post apocalyptic action/dark comedy story, just having some issues picking a title and hoped you could help. Or maybe even give some ideas for a better title… The only ideas I have so far are Crazies Inc, Disorderly Inc, and Caring Hearts Inc… the only titles I could think up to fit a story about a bunch of comically homicidal greedy psychopaths.”

    I would recommend brainstorming in a more postapocalyptic (or more psychotic) and less business direction.Postapocalyptic + psychotic sound a lot more central/distinctive to me than that the characters have organized themselves as a business rather than, say, a gang. (If you asked your readers to describe the work in a sentence, I’m guessing that very few of them would mention “business,” “company” or any similar terms. In contrast, in a case like Office Space or The Firm, the business angle actually is critical to the story).

  439. Grinny faceon 15 Nov 2015 at 12:25 am

    Okay, less business more postapocalyptic, fair enough. Still, could you help suggest a better title than the ones i have?

    I always gets stuck when it comes to titles.

  440. B. McKenzieon 15 Nov 2015 at 2:44 pm

    “Still, could you help suggest a better title than the ones i have?” In this case, probably not — it sounds like the genre mix is highly unusual, and I don’t know much about the central plot. Also, in general, I feel titles are very distinctive to each author.

  441. Grinny faceon 16 Nov 2015 at 7:39 am

    Alright, thanks for the help anyway. And yeah, admittedly, even i sometimes ain’t sure what genre to set this story in. Best i could come up with was action/dark comedy, with some psychopaths doing business stuff cause why not.

  442. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 16 Nov 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I can not think of any possible titles for the books in my series, so I am here to request some assistance, if possible.

    Series takes place in a version of Earth that has been corrupted and invaded by a race of aliens who have fled from their own dying world across the Milky Way. Humanity is mostly located in areas in the far north and the far south, as the terraformation technology and psychic links that the Novae, the aliens, use to communicate and terraform do not work in cold climates. Additionally, the Novae have an innate but mostly unused ability to shift their consciousness into another beings body, and in extreme circumstances, inanimate objects. However, not many of them know how to use that ability.

    General Story:
    Humanity continues to fight against the invading Novae as all civilizations teeter on the brink of collapse from lack of food and other supplies. Leaders in North America continue their attempts to figure out a weakness in the Novae lines of defense and control, and intend to destroy the terraformaiton device in some way. As this is going on, a battle of subterfuge is occurring amongst the leaders of North America, where a jaded villain intends to supplant leaders of both Humanity and Novae.

  443. catswoodsriveron 22 Jan 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I have seen a one-word title used well. The book is called Tunnels. It is about an archaeologist discovering an underground society.

    My book is about a young Djinni whose parents died of the Plague. She ran away from the scene of their death and buried her sadness in creating the Earth. She had completely forgotten about the ancient curse of her people. She is now trapped on the Earth. She cannot voluntarily leave, and if she is away from Earth she will slowly die as Earth pulls her energy towards it. The story follows her journey through time and space. It is currently called The Shapeshifter. Would The Creator’s Curse be better?

  444. B. McKenzieon 22 Jan 2016 at 7:42 pm

    “It is currently called The Shapeshifter. Would The Creator’s Curse be better?” Yes, I think so. I think it conveys the mood better and at least gives a vague idea of the plot.

  445. FindersKeeperson 23 Jan 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I just completed my training and I’m working on a book of tips for other young amateur superheroes. It’s written in first person, and it will be a comedy / sci-fi kind of book. I’d really love if kids can learn from my experiences of what yes and not to do as a superhero instead of learning on the job – stuff like NOT letting your mask fall into enemy hands and having to leave the crime scene covering your face so no one will learn your identity. (Yes, that actually happened.) I wanted your opinion on some ideas I had for a title. What do you think about ‘A Hero is Always Alone Sometimes, You Better Believe It, and Like It Or Not? Thanks so much.

  446. domion 16 Mar 2016 at 9:45 am


  447. Grinny faceon 20 Mar 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Does “Crazies Inc.” sound like a good title? Even if you know nothing about the story, does it at least sound interesting?

  448. B. McKenzieon 20 Mar 2016 at 7:21 pm

    “Even if you know nothing about the story, does it at least sound interesting?” Yes. However, I feel that “Inc.” sets us up for some sort of corporate-oriented story (e.g. Hudsucker Proxy, The Office, Office Space, Glengarry Glen Ross, etc). If you’re writing about post-apocalyptic mercenaries/criminals for hire, I’m not sure “Inc.” is a great fit.

  449. Grinny faceon 20 Mar 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah… admittedly it was just titled “Crazies” before but I thought that was too short and I’m pretty sure there was a zombie movie back in 2010 called “The Crazies”, so wanted to change it up a bit. Have been trying to think up a better title that Crazies and Crazies Inc. but honestly can’t think of another title that fits the story and the setting better. I mean, a normal Monday in the city is when some tribal warlord from outside the city tries to take it over with tanks and mutated cybernetic cultists. What else could I call it other than Crazies?

    Any suggestions ?

  450. B. McKenzieon 20 Mar 2016 at 8:28 pm

    What happens in the book besides unpredictable craziness?

  451. Grinny faceon 20 Mar 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Well the main reason the main guy (the janitor dude) needs money is because he’s slowly dying of poison and its also messing with his mind. He needs a billion dollars to pay for the cure before he goes insane and dies in a year. The others have their own reasons for needing money, ( con woman wants her house back, engineer need to pay for college, etc.) .

    Other than that its just them doing some jobs for clients like stealing an experimental robot from the government, babysitting a crime bosses kid, keeping the cops from finding some mutated animals, stuff like that. Its not a novel by the way, it’s a comic so i try to come up with a new job for them each issue. No real tight focus on a story, I mean its there but not the main point. The main point is to try get some laughs with the crazy jobs they get into.

  452. B. McKenzieon 20 Mar 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Crazy Money?

  453. Grinny faceon 23 Mar 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Ehhh… at this point maybe crazies inc. Isn’t that bad of a title. At least its interesting and does kinda make sense.

  454. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2016 at 7:10 pm

    “Ehhh… at this point maybe crazies inc. Isn’t that bad of a title. At least its interesting and does kinda make sense.” I agree with that.

  455. Nixon 30 Oct 2016 at 12:09 am

    Ref: B.Mac 14 June 2009.

    Regarding character names being useful in an ongoing serial style story – how do you feel about using “The” before a character’s name? What significance does “The” provide to the titled character? Or does it really matter?

  456. B. McKenzieon 30 Oct 2016 at 12:54 am

    “Regarding character names being useful in an ongoing serial style story – how do you feel about using “The” before a character’s name? What significance does “The” provide to the titled character? Or does it really matter?”

    I would do whatever sounds more natural. Here are two scenarios where I’d probably use “The” before a character’s name.

    1) If there’s a modifier/adjective before the character name, or if the character name is being used as a modifier/adjective, e.g. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” or “The Dresden Files” or “The Westing Game” or whatever). However, if you’re going with just a name, then I wouldn’t recommend starting with “The” (e.g. “The Mr. Ripley” or “The Harry Dresden” would sound very strange).

    2) If you’re referring to someone as something besides their name, “The” would probably be natural, e.g. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “The Grinch that Twerked Christmas” or “The Taxman Must Die, Especially if He Twerked Christmas”.

  457. Nixon 02 Nov 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Ref: B. McKenzie 30 Oct. 2016.

    Thanks for the reply.

    No. 2 is spot on for my lead character. She gains her powers from an entity which allows her to transform into a hybrid being and adopts its name for her superhero identity.
    The entity has a very black and white, and brutal view of justice – were as our heroine is more liberal in her approach. This moral ‘tug of war’ is central to character and plot development.

  458. Anonymouson 05 Jan 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Which one of these is best :
    The Last Story
    Ninjas and Hackers

  459. B. McKenzieon 08 Jan 2017 at 7:03 am

    “Which one of these is best: Five, The Last Story, or Ninjas and Hackers?”

    I don’t think any of these are ready to submit. Of these, Ninjas and Hackers is the best starting point, because it conveys some information about the plot, but it’s not very artful (e.g. it’s like renaming “A Game of Thrones” to “Warriors and Wizards” or “Patriot Games” to “Soldiers and Spies” or “Shadowrun” to “Ninjas and Hackers” or “Hunger Games” to “Teens and Fascists” — I’d recommend giving it another go).

  460. Anonymouson 18 Jan 2017 at 4:35 am

    thanks for reply !

  461. Anonymous 001on 18 Jan 2017 at 6:16 am

    Is it as bad to use the names of imaginary places if they sound real? Currently, my story is titled “The Corvids of Canton”, referring to the titular city’s bird-brained team of unofficial superheros. Is that too lack-luster?

  462. B. McKenzieon 18 Jan 2017 at 6:37 pm

    “Is it as bad to use the names of imaginary places if they sound real?” If it introduces your story/characters effectively to prospective readers, I’m on board. I’m not sure about “Corvids of Canton” there. The lack of forward development is the biggest issue, and secondarily there might also be a confusion hazard*. Also, I’d generally recommend against using a team name in the title unless it helps establish something major about the work, like genre/mood/etc — for example, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Suicide Squad”, and “Ghostbusters” are more informative.

    *Among football fans, I’d guess that Canton is probably best known for the NFL Hall of Fame, and the NFL happens to have a “corvid” team, the Ravens, and this isn’t clearly enough about superheroes to avoid sounding like a book about football.

  463. Anonymous 001on 23 Jan 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you; I will keep that in mind!

    I didn’t know that about the NFL!

  464. B. McKenzieon 23 Jan 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I assume they gave it to Ohio to make sure they got to see good players once in a while. 🙂

  465. young grasshopperon 12 Feb 2017 at 1:40 pm

    how does “Officially Heroes” sound?

  466. (0_n')on 18 Feb 2017 at 6:10 am

    I think Official Heroes sound a lot better. I find the conjugation akward. That kind of story is it? I find the title could be a little more saying, it would help(shout out to me to name all my drafts or notes as Blah Blah, Boring etcera. Not a awfull good idea to file names), but it is not a thing you should spend hours to rename.

  467. blon 23 Oct 2017 at 11:51 am

    Ok so how does this work as a title,
    The Way We Die

  468. blon 24 Oct 2017 at 11:37 am

    To have some context it’s about intertwined stories of an immortal and multiple characters, throughout time.

  469. blon 24 Oct 2017 at 11:56 am

    No time travel though

  470. Faeon 03 Jul 2018 at 7:14 am

    How about “The Perfect Shot” for a summer love story about two snipers.

  471. B. McKenzieon 03 Jul 2018 at 12:45 pm

    “How about “The Perfect Shot” for a summer love story about two snipers.” I like it. It doesn’t cover the romance angle very directly, but the cover art will probably help there.

  472. Grinnyon 14 Aug 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Hey b.mac, I can’t recall where you wrote it, but a long while back I remember you saying something like ” ‘The Return of the King’ sounds better than ‘The Returning King’ ”

    So going by that, does “Smiles for Sale” sound better than “Selling Smiles”? Or is it a different case? I think Selling Smiles is catchier, but it may be more suited as a tagline. I’m not sure.

  473. Faeon 17 Aug 2018 at 6:48 am

    How does Bloody Magic sound for a dark fantasy story?

  474. B. McKenzieon 17 Aug 2018 at 9:15 am

    The Return of the King sounds much better than The Returning King. Usually “returning” is used as a verb (like returning a favor or returning a gift), but The Returning King uses “returning” as an adjective/modifier, which is why it sounds sort of weird to me.

    (There are a few cases where “returning” fits as an adjective: e.g. “the returning champion” of a sports league or “returning officer” for elections in some countries).

    In your case, I think “Selling Smiles” sounds similar to “Smiles for Sale.” (If I were writing a story about someone who is a professional griever that gets paid to attend funerals and make it look like the person is missed, “Tears For Sale” sounds more natural than “Selling Tears”).

  475. B. McKenzieon 17 Aug 2018 at 9:22 am

    “How does Bloody Magic sound for a dark fantasy story?” I’m not opposed to the word “Bloody” or “Magic” but by themselves I don’t think they tell very much about your story.

    If, hypothetically, I were writing a story where sorcerers were sort of lawyers working through arcane contracts with malevolent entities, I might go with something like “Signed in Blood” or “Litigation and Other Dark Magics” or whatever.

  476. Faeon 17 Aug 2018 at 10:29 am

    How about “The Dark God’s Knight” as the main ends up working for a dark god?

  477. Faeon 17 Aug 2018 at 10:31 am

    Or “The Dark God’s Mage”

  478. B. McKenzieon 18 Aug 2018 at 5:03 am

    “The Dark God’s Knight” or “The Dark God’s Mage” — if you’re starting with the “Dark God’s…” as your first two words, I think there are more interesting options for a third word than a job title that sounds pretty conventional in context.

    “In The Dark Lord’s Service” or “The Dark God’s Orders”, maybe. (Incidentally, I think “Dark Lord” sounds better than “Dark God”).

  479. Anonymouson 14 Sep 2018 at 10:18 am

    I’ll go with “In the Dark Lord’s Service,” for now.

  480. Cat-Vacuumer Supremeon 01 Oct 2018 at 10:39 am

    How does “The Illuminators & The Shuttered Lanterns” sound? It will be formatted as a historical text for a fictional world. The Illuminators are a group of people who gained powers when the world restarted, and the Shuttered Lanterns are Illuminators who become somewhat militant, fighting for freedom for all of the Illuminators. There is also a bit of religious relation for who becomes an Illuminator, and they think their purpose is to spread a message of hope, joy, and rebirth given to them by god. (Which is part of the reason why they are so light-themed).

  481. B. McKenzieon 01 Oct 2018 at 3:02 pm

    CVS: “How does “The Illuminators & The Shuttered Lanterns” sound?” Taking a look at “Shuttered Lanterns”, I’d suggest considering alternative modifiers to “shuttered”, preferably something that conveys more specific information about your story and/or creates a stronger emotional impression. For example, if this were a work where a beleaguered feel would fit, maybe something like “The Last Candle” or “Fading Light” or something along those lines. As for the book you’re actually working on, it sounds like the threat/grit/cynicism level is unusually low, which limits a lot of the routes I’d normally check for titles in action/adventure. Maybe some interesting contrast angle, but preferably less obvious than a simple light vs. dark contrast like (weak) The Lantern in the Dark or whatever (e.g. some more interesting “contrast” titles that come to mind include A Game of Thrones, The Glass Key, The Big Sleep, maybe Return of the King, City of Ashes, The Devil in the White City, Patriot Games, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Mouse That Roared, The Heart of Darkness, etc).

    I think including a group name in the title helps more when the group name conveys more about the plot and/or characters involved (e.g. Fight Club, Dead Poets’ Society, Suicide Squad, and SPECTRE). There may be more distinctive alternatives to using the group name here.

  482. Cameronon 03 Dec 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Hi, I have a title for a story I’m working on. It’s about an inventor who goes on a date with his girlfriend and she gets kidnapped and he has to become a superhero to track down the gang that took her and save her. Here is the title:


  483. B. McKenzieon 08 Dec 2018 at 7:57 am

    Flight of the Sparrow… okay as a placeholder, I think. When you’re ready to rewrite, I’d recommend taking another look at it (but not now). The main issue I’d suggest looking at then is whether readers can tell anything about plot or genre or characters from the title. (I’d guess The Sparrow is a plane about to go on some sort of expedition).

  484. Kindraon 16 Dec 2018 at 6:10 pm

    The name of that book I’m writing who’s first line you praised so highly is Stolen Winter. It’s part of a *twelve-book series* I decided to write. I know it’s ambitious, especially as my first foray into actually completing a manuscript for once (I’ve been at this for eight years you’d think I’d have something done by now).
    I know the first line doesn’t connect to the story very well but the basic premise is that the ice princess was kidnapped and people are pointing fingers at the fire prince so he goes off to rescue her to clear his name sorta. And this turns out to be part of a larger plot as a wind girl investigating a cult discovers connections and goes off to help fireboy.
    The basic premise of the series is that this cult keeps trying to screw up the elemental balances for some reason and the main gang tries to stop it. I did create titles for each book since (unlike other project attempts) I plotted out the entire series before putting finger to keyboard on the first book. The titles are as follows:

    1: Stolen Winter – ice princess kidnapped

    2: High Winds – stuff between earth and air

    3: Vapor and Steam – mild spoilers but the fire prince is accused of murdering someone in the water kingdom and they prefer execution by drowning

    4: Where the Willows Grow – they go to the plant kingdom (and the main plant kid’s name is Willow, so puns!)

    5: The Sea of Sand – sand kingdom obviously

    6: The Absent Flame – fire prince is incapacitated so his li’l sis has to take his place

    7: The Northern Snows – ice kingdom and the ice princess from book 1

    8: Strong As Stone* – earth kingdom and the earth dude has some confidence issues

    9: Winds of Fortune – air kingdom (and the villain is taken down with a gust of wind basically)

    10: Song of the Sea – water kingdom, mc is named Syrena so it’s another pun

    11: Forest of War – the plant kingdom is under siege

    12: Of Sands and Storms – the final episode covering the sand kingdom and also the complete absence of the lightning kingdom and everything ends well pretty much

    So I would like your thoughts on whether the titles are aptly named and if this seems like I’m gonna not finish (again)

    *should the ‘as’ be capitalized?

  485. B. McKenzieon 16 Dec 2018 at 7:25 pm

    “It’s part of a *twelve-book series* I decided to write. I know it’s ambitious, especially as my first foray into actually completing a manuscript for once (I’ve been at this for eight years you’d think I’d have something done by now).” I’d suggest starting with a smaller project scope at least initially. A twelve book series would probably take decades to complete especially if the first book took more than 8.

  486. Kindraon 17 Dec 2018 at 4:35 am

    I haven’t been working on the first book for 8 years – I meant I have been writing in general for eight years on a myriad of other projects. I’ve only just started this series and so far have been more productive in maybe two weeks than any other attempt at stories I’ve made.

  487. B. McKenzieon 19 Dec 2018 at 6:51 pm

    “So I would like your thoughts on whether the titles are aptly named and if this seems like I’m gonna not finish (again)”. I think you’re being hard on yourself — it sounds like the main issue is that the project scope/author fit isn’t good at this point, not that the author is defective in some way. I’d suggest starting with a project that fills you with as much confidence as possible, and building it out as your confidence grows.

    If you’d like a completely unsolicited writing prompt (building into a novel length), try 1,000 words introducing a character trying something interesting or at least thinking about it, 5,000 words setting up a MAJOR problem, 10,000 words of him reacting to it, 15,000 words losing something of extreme importance (like Jaime Lannister losing his sword arm or the Rebels failing to save Alderaan), and 20,000 words trying something huge and it unfolding in a completely unexpected destination, and 20,000 words of resolution (e.g. the hero taking on a major adventure or challenge or decision that he/she never would have considered or been up to at the start of the book, and how it changes him/her).

    So, for example, a moderately mangled plotline of the first Star Wars movie:
    1. Luke Skywalker dreams of adventure
    2. Luke has a conflict between what his aunt/uncle expect of him and what he dreams for himself
    3. Luke falls in with a mysterious old man on a dicey trip with a sketchball hired-gun scoundrel pilot to help some woman he doesn’t know anything about.
    4-5. The heroes make some progress (rescuing Leia), but take two major steps back along the way (the Death Star destroys Tattooine and Obi Wan sacrifices himself to allow the heroes to escape).
    6. Facing down the Death Star.

    10 second recap: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try breaking it down into digestible chunks.

  488. Marvelouson 16 Jan 2019 at 2:34 pm


    I am currently writing a fanfiction about Stephen Strange (aka Doctor Strange)’s son. The title I chose was “Simon Strange, Sorcerer Supreme”. The reason I like this title is because:

    1) It states his name and occupation.

    2) It alliterates and is easy to remember.

    3) Marvel fans will be able to identify who he’s related to and seem interested (and they’re the people I’m writing it for).

    What do you think about it?

  489. B. McKenzieon 16 Jan 2019 at 7:17 pm

    “What do you think about it?” If you’re mainly writing to get published and/or for an audience, I’d suggest working on original content. If you’re mainly writing for fun, it doesn’t really matter what others think.

  490. Rey Stoneon 04 Apr 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Ok, so i am writing a two to three book series and the title of the series is Fate of the Stones. And i need help with giving the first book of the series a name. The best thing i could come up with was Fate of the Stones: Fates Collide, but i think it sounds too cliche. Which might be a good thing, because my audience would know what they are getting into more or less. But it could also be a bad thing because, well cliches aren’t always a good thing.

    So the plot is a bit hard to explain because it deals with a lot. But i will try to do the best i can, and i apologize if i don’t succeed in helping you understand, but instead impair your understanding. (wow. i just sounded exactly like one of my characters. Sorry.)

    So in this book there are different aspects of life. Those aspects have a stone that powers them. One cannot exist without the other. There are also different planets that are home to those stones.

    The stones are:
    – Soul
    – Mind
    – Time
    – Heart
    – Fortune
    – Sight
    – Sound
    – and the five Elements. (fire, air, earth, water, and poison.)

    Each stone has a wielder who can use the power that the stone grants, and in return they protect the stone and therefore the aspect of life that stone represents.

    The first book is about five teenagers who are forced to become the protectors of the stones (if you need to know specifics please ask, but it’s too long for me to include in this) from earth which are the five elements. In this book they also have to protect Earth against some of the wielders of the other stones who views earth as unfit to exist.

    i am sorry if none of that made sense, but i would really appreciate some feedback and some ideas for book titles. Thank you so much, and i hope you have a good day. (i also may have posted a comment earlier, but i am not sure so i just put another one)

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