Jul 22 2010

Is Your Title Too Generic?

Published by at 11:35 pm under Titles,Writing Articles

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Does your title help readers answer at least three of the following questions about your novel? If not, it probably doesn’t say enough about the work.

  • What’s the genre? (Action, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, romance, horror, etc).
  • What’s the subgenre? (Are we talking about an action with… Superheroes? Military/espionage? A natural disaster?  Adventurers? Vampires/supernatural creatures? Mythological figures? etc).
  • 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–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 central goal of the main character and/or what’s at stake if he loses?
  • What’s the author’s style like?
  • Is there an interesting contrast between elements of the title?


If the title doesn’t nail at least three of these, I’d recommend rewriting it and/or starting over.  Here are some examples that I enjoyed.


Captain Freedom: A Superhero’s Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves

  • Main character: a highly self-entitled, egomaniacal superhero, maybe a parody of Superman
  • Goal: celebrity and recognition
  • Contrast: The idealistic, lofty name “Captain Freedom” vs. his preposterously petty goal.
  • Author style: I’d totally pick this up, assuming I could survive the cover.


Saddam Hussein and the Hippies from Space

  • Main character and antagonist: Either Saddam Hussein and the space hippies or vice versa
  • Genre: science fiction/comedy
  • Author’s style: Wow.  I love the contrast, too.

Autobiographies from Death Row

  • Genre and subgenre: autobiography -> true crime
  • Main character & setting: Readers can infer most of the stories feature violent felons in prison and/or crime-ridden areas
  • Interesting contrast: Death Row inmates as authors.  Also, Death Row inmates writing in a genre that emphasizes introspection. 


Soon I Will Be Invincible

  • Genre/subgenre: comedy -> superhero
  • Main protagonist: a struggling supervillain seeking power
  • Author’s style: I liked this character voice.
  • Contrast: It sounds like the character wants vastly more for himself than he actually has or will ever achieve.


The Taxman Must Die (the comic book I’m writing)

  • Genre: action/comedy
  • Main character/premise: a tax-collector running for his life
  • Author’s style: I hope that readers can tell it’s got a wacky style.
  • Contrast: Taxmen are about as unsuited for violence and assassination attempts as it gets.

65 responses so far

65 Responses to “Is Your Title Too Generic?”

  1. Wingson 23 Jul 2010 at 11:24 am

    I too would read the Captain Freedom one, but that is easily one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen. If I was randomly seeing that in a bookstore, regardless of the title, I’d probably pass on it.

    …Wait, I think I accidentally named one of the members of the Six Captain Freedom. I’d better go fix that.

    – Wings

  2. B. Macon 23 Jul 2010 at 2:17 pm

    The author told me that it was an “uncorrected draft” but apparently they never got around to correcting it. (Or, if they have, they haven’t gotten around to replacing it on Amazon or B&N).

    Robillard strikes me as pretty talented, so it’s especially disappointing that Harper-Collins completely screwed him with the cover. (Who signed off on the art? WTF is up with the lettering/balloons? How do you get a typo on a cover!?)

    Even the best publishers are not infallible. When there is a vast artistic problem like this, I would personally try to fix the situation by paying my freelance letterer a few hundred dollars for a re-lettering job of the “OHMYGODINEEDTHISRIGHTNOW” priority. The worst-case scenario is that the publisher will fix the problems on its own and I’ve wasted a few hundred dollars. But if the publisher ISN’T fixing the cover, as appears to have been the case here, then having a fixed version available for the publisher’s consideration may well save the cover. Or at least the lettering.

    The art is a bit trickier because the main problem here was that the concept was poor rather than that there was an indisputable error. I could commission my freelancer to try a new, better concept, but even a receptive agent would have more trouble convincing everyone involved that the new concept is so much better that it would be best to switch immediately.

    In contrast, the lettering would probably have been an easy switch.
    1. The typo is indisputable.
    2. The publisher is apparently not willing to put in the time/resources to fix the problem on its own, but paying my freelancer to do their work avoids that problem.
    3. If there is a stylistic dispute about the new bubbles, I can say something polite like “I have the highest respect for your artist, who has a history of doing kickass novel covers, but he/she is not yet quite as experienced with comic book bubbles. So I would like you to consider this version by a letterer that specializes in comic books.”

  3. B. Macon 25 Jul 2010 at 6:21 am

    You may be right. It’s been more than 5 years, so my memory is hazy.

  4. B. Macon 25 Jul 2010 at 7:10 am

    PS: Wings, have you thought about Captain Liberty or Major Freedom?

  5. Wingson 25 Jul 2010 at 10:11 am

    I think that I chanced his name to General Freedom in the new draft on my review forum…Although I like the sound of Captain Liberty.

    – Wings

  6. Edison 08 Nov 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I’m not sure if my title is too generic: I’ve read other pages on this site regarding titles and am unsure if mine works or not. The story is entitled “Samsara” which comes from a Sanskrit word that can mean “the world” or “to flow on.” Both translations have high relevance to the story, but, considering that if I attempt to write this, it’s most likely going to be written for an American audience, and the fact that Hinduism doesn’t take precedence over any other religion in the story, I’m wondering if this may be a minor case of false-advertising. Any suggestions?

  7. B. McKenzieon 09 Nov 2011 at 12:24 am

    Unless your prospective readers know what Samsara means, I suspect that you could come up with a more effective title. I don’t think it says enough about the story, particularly if the reader doesn’t know what Samsara means. (Even after you’ve told me what it means, I still can’t guess what the story is about).

    I’m not terribly worried about the potential of false advertising, though, as long as a world religion (or several world religions) plays a major role. If that’s a concern, maybe one possibility would be translating it to English (maybe “The World Flows On”) and avoid the religious connotations in the title? (It’s still not very clear what “The World Flows On” is about but I think it’s a bit clearer).

  8. Edison 09 Nov 2011 at 7:54 am

    I see. Thank you.

  9. Edison 09 Nov 2011 at 7:57 am

    I think I like the sound of “The World Flows On.” It seems to fit the style that I’m going for, and I also agree on your point that it would be accessible to a wider audience.

  10. Nayanon 07 Jan 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I have titled the three issues of my comic book miniseries as-

    Issue 1- A Killer in the Making

    Issue 2- On a Killing Spree

    Issue 3- The Final Kil

    Will you be interested as a reader on seeing the titles? Will you get any clues about the story, genre, style etc.?

  11. YellowJujuon 07 Jan 2013 at 10:19 pm

    The first question is about establishing genre, my story’s title is supposed to sound like a spy novel of sorts, but it’s not. It’s “A Man on the Inside”. Is that a problem?

  12. Nayanon 07 Jan 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Your title gives the impression of a psychological thriller like split personality. I think you should change the title if you want to give the impression of a spy thriller.

  13. B. McKenzieon 08 Jan 2013 at 1:11 am

    “My story’s title is supposed to sound like a spy novel of sorts, but it’s not.” Hmm… What would the benefit be of making your product sound like something it’s not? This could make it harder to find the readers that would be interested in your book (rather than readers that are looking for something else).

  14. B. McKenzieon 08 Jan 2013 at 2:12 am

    “Will you get any clues about the story, genre, style etc.?”

    With “A Killer in the Making” or “On A Killing Spree,” I’d assume it was a story about a serial killer, maybe a villain-as-main-character. I’m not getting a superhero-ish vibe here.

  15. YellowJujuon 08 Jan 2013 at 10:34 am

    It’s a play on the saying. Instead of someone undercover, it’s an agoraphobic person. So the title makes does make sense.

  16. crescon 08 Jan 2013 at 2:18 pm

    YellowJuju, I would suggest a subtitle in your a case.

    Something akin to “A Man on the Inside: An agorophic love story”

    Though personally I think subtitles are gorssly over used.

    Alternatetively the cover art could be specifically non-spy inducing.

  17. Dr. Vo Spaderon 08 Jan 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Or perhaps “A Man Inside”.

  18. YoungAuthoron 08 Jan 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Here’s a couple title’s I’m thinking of giving my stories and I want to know how other people think they sound. Assuming the cover was well-done would you picked up a book called:

    Capes, Masks and…tights?

    High Acceleration

    What a hero must do

    Pride of an Assassin

    Like father, like son (think of a cover with half the dad’s face and half the sons)

    The fire breather and his father.

    What’s a hero like anyway?

  19. Nayanon 08 Jan 2013 at 6:07 pm

    @B. Ma
    you said,”I’m not getting a
    superhero-ish vibe here.’

    I am a bit confused about the genre of my story. It’s action thriller for sure. But I don’t know whether it can be called superhero action thriller. Jason does not fight crime like a typical superhero. His fight is against one specific terrorist organisation. But he has some characteristics of a superhero like secret identity, costume etc. You have read the synopsis. What do you say?

  20. B. McKenzieon 09 Jan 2013 at 12:34 am

    “I don’t know whether it can be called a superhero action thriller…” If it’s not supposed to be a superhero story, it might help to remove the superhero names (e.g. Faceless and Black Angel) and adapt the combat to a different style of story (e.g. maybe replace Xavier’s archery with a more modern skill).

  21. B. McKenzieon 09 Jan 2013 at 1:15 am

    “[A Man on the Inside] is a play on the saying. Instead of someone undercover, it’s an agoraphobic person. So the title makes does make sense.” I’d recommend a title clearer to prospective readers. If prospective readers can’t figure out what the book is about by looking at the title, I’d recommend revisiting the title (or, at the very least, appending an informative subtitle).

    “Capes, Masks and…tights?” I think it was Erik Larsen that said, “If the wittiest thing you have to say about superheroes is about the costumes, don’t write the story.” My suggestion here would be to take a more interesting angle on your superhero story. For example, anything about the main character besides his take on his superhero costume? Alternately, if you mention the costumes, can you use it to make a more interesting impression and/or establish something more interesting about your story than the character’s displeasure about his clothes? For example, if someone were writing a story about a character who hunts superheroes, I think Cape-Killer would be okay.

    “High Acceleration”–I don’t have any idea what this book is about. Generally, I’d recommend giving readers a more concrete idea of what’s going on.

    “What a Hero Must Do”–this is too generic, I think. For example, it could apply to more or less every action story, so it doesn’t do a great job selling YOUR story.

    “Pride of an Assassin”–It might help to give “assassin” a more interesting contrast than “pride.”

    “Like Father, Like Son.” Okay as a placeholder. The publisher may ask you to change it later (because there are several books already named Like Father, Like Son), but I wouldn’t recommend worrying about that prospect before you get there. One potential hangup with the title is that it is sort of generic–e.g. you’d probably need the cover to get the genre across–but I think it does a better job introducing at least one aspect of the plot than most of your other titles have.

    “The fire breather and his father.” Unless this is a fantasy story about two dragons, I’d recommend rephrasing. A verb phrase might go over more smoothly–e.g. “The Son Who Breathed Fire”–introducing him as a “son” implies that his relationship with a parent is very important, and the phrase “breathed fire” is less dragon-specific than “fire-breather.”

  22. B. McKenzieon 09 Jan 2013 at 3:17 am

    “Alternatively, the cover art could be specifically non-spy inducing.” That could help if the readers get that far. However, most bookstores shelve most books with the binding facing out rather than the cover, so the title plays a crucial role in convincing the prospective reader to pull the book off the shelf to learn more.

  23. YoungAuthoron 09 Jan 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks, I think I’ll use “The Son Who Breathed Fire” for now. and “A man inside” sounds like a great title for that type of story. I definetly pick it up.

  24. Emily M.on 03 Mar 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Hello! I’m working on an idea for a fairytale/fantasy type story.
    The title I have right now is “Lady-In-Waiting.”
    Main character: -An aggressive, cheeky, self-reliant girl named Lark. She prefers to take matters into her own hands rather than wait for someone else to fight her battles. Lark feels the need to appear tough because she secretly fears dependence on an unreliable knight-in-shining-armor.

    Is this a decent title?

  25. B. McKenzieon 04 Mar 2013 at 8:40 am

    Hello, Emily. I think it’s an okay title. However, how many of your prospective readers actually know what a lady-in-waiting is, and would the title work with those that don’t? My guess would be 1) less than 75% and 2) Not very well. One possibility would be adding an interesting/unusual modifier (e.g. an adjective) to lady-in-waiting so that the phrase is interesting even if the person isn’t sure what a lady-in-waiting is. For example, “The Crying Killer” would probably be more interesting than “The Killer” alone would be.

  26. Emily M.on 05 Mar 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Gaaahhh, now I’m stumped.

  27. Emily M.on 06 Mar 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Would the title be more interesting if the word “lady” was replaced with something more unusual? Like “Dragon-In-Waiting?”

  28. B. McKenzieon 07 Mar 2013 at 2:05 am

    “Like “Dragon-In-Waiting?” Yes–I love Dragon-in-Waiting. The contrast there strikes me as very interesting and shows us more about the character than Lady-in-Waiting does. That said, Dragon-in-Waiting sounds like a very, very different book than Lady-in-Waiting, which sounds a lot more like a fantasy romance than anything with dragons front and center.

  29. Emily M.on 17 Mar 2013 at 7:44 pm

    “Yes–I love Dragon-in-Waiting. The contrast there strikes me as very interesting and shows us more about the character than Lady-in-Waiting does.” *punches the air* Thank you!

  30. Timothyon 21 Mar 2013 at 10:21 am

    Would “Unsung Heroes” be a good title for my story? In the world of my story, heroes are selfish millionaires who only fight crime for a fee. The only way to become a superhero is to get a crime fighting license. The main protagonists of my story are a group of teenage superheroes who fight crime for free. Since they don’t have licenses, they group are known as outlaws in their city. Some other names I had in mind were:

    “Criminal Justice”

    “Verboten Defenders”

    “Bootleg Heroes”

    “Unauthorized Heroes”

    Or should I think of another title?

  31. B. McKenzieon 22 Mar 2013 at 10:58 pm

    “Unsung Heroes” could be more distinctive… right now, it suggests that the characters are not appreciated by the people around them, but I think a title could do more to develop the characters and/or plot. One possibility would be going for a more distinctive/interesting contrast for “Unsung” than “Heroes,” or adding a modifier phrase like “Unsung Heroes of the _______” which fits your story in some memorable way. For example, if I were writing a wacky comedy, I think something like “Unsung Heroes of the Squirrel Revolution” or “Zorack the Butcher (and Other Unsung Canadians)” would be more memorable than just Unsung Heroes would be.

    “Criminal Justice”… Could be a lot more specific.

    Verboten Defenders, Bootleg Heroes, and Unauthorized Heroes… I think your title could tell us more about the characters and the conflicts than just that they’re criminal superheroes. If I *had* to build a title around the heroes being criminals, I’d go with something like [Distinctive Noun] in the First Degree, Aggravated [Distinctive Noun], Felony [Distinctive Positive Noun]… preferably something distinctive to your story/characters. For example, if I were telling a story about the protagonists of The Taxman Must Die as outlaws and/or marked for death, perhaps something like Felony Awesomeness or Accelerate Your Life Insurance.

  32. Dr. Vo Spaderon 23 Mar 2013 at 7:45 am

    I understand that titles are important, but wouldn’t the cover distinguish the book for what it is? (Example: a man with a cape up in th sky to mark it as a superhero story)

  33. Kirbyon 23 Mar 2013 at 8:50 am

    It’s probably good to have a snappy title in case the cover ends up being awful. See: Captain Freedom.

  34. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2013 at 11:44 am

    1. When your book is put on a bookshelf, it will probably be placed with the binding out (not the cover out)–e.g. like this B&N bookshelf. When people are browsing through the shelf, they will only choose to see the cover if they are impressed by the title and/or recognize your name.

    2. I agree with Kirby that you can’t count on the cover being any good. Email me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com for a story I can’t discuss in public. 🙂

    That said, I agree with you that (as long as your title is interesting enough that people want to check out the book more) the title doesn’t need to cover everything. For example, it’s not 100% essential that your title identify your book as a superhero story–the book cover can do that, assuming that your title convinces prospects to check out the cover.

  35. Benon 03 Apr 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I’m working on a story about these twins who are the reincarnates of ancient sun and moon gods. Long story short, the gods died a long time ago and their sacrifice sent the other deities into a comatose state for thousands of years until the present day, when they are awakened and decide to take back the world. I figure I might use the title “Awaken” since the gods have awakened again as well as the twins’ sun/moon powers. However, I feel that this word is overused in many stories like this and I want it to be a bit more memorable as well. Any other suggestions?

  36. Benon 03 Apr 2013 at 3:40 pm

    P.S. I came up with a few more ideas:

    Awake Again
    Solstice Brothers
    The Solstice Brothers and the Fightin’ Four
    Mother Nature’s Sons
    My Brother is the Moon (if it is a first-person perspective)
    I am the Sun (again, 1st person)
    Brothers of the Eclipse

  37. Dorano121on 25 Sep 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Something of a question…okay, it’s a question. I’m (trying to) writing a story, but I can’t tell if I should call it:

    Three Soldiers
    When Half Were Killed
    Last Gun Shooting.

    It’s about six cloned soldiers (this isn’t a Star Wars fanfiction), three are killed for being ‘inferior’ as the other three’s (Nova’s) final test, Nova Squad ticked off, runs off, (spoiler alert, 😛 ) then eventually kills off the head scientist. Then two of the three remaining members of Nova are killed, leaving the MC alone to make her way in the world. Cliffhanger, sequel.

  38. B. McKenzieon 25 Sep 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I feel like “Three Soldiers” and “Supernova” could be more distinctive… I’d recommend a title which told us more about the story and/or characters and was more distinctive. For example, perhaps you could use the squad’s motto as a title (e.g. something like “Die Shooting”), which I think foreshadows something about the plot, the mood, and what’s at stake for the main characters. Alternately, perhaps “Friendly Fire.”

  39. Dorano121on 25 Sep 2013 at 8:53 pm

    I like “Die Shooting” and “Friendly Fire”, actually. “Friendly Fire” seems more generally awesome to me (ignore the awkward wording there), but “Die Shooting” I think works best for the story. Thanks!

  40. Wolfgirlon 06 Feb 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I’m completely stuck coming up with an name for my new story.

    It’s about writers and characters. Writers can create and bring their characters to life in the form of character cards by using a character machine. The character machine takes the image and characteristics of the characters from the writer’s imagination. Characters can also appear off of the card in the real world for a short amount of time. However, to do this they require energy from the writer’s imagination. There is a sport using the characters called character dueling. The characters fight with special abilities and after a character loses they return to the character card.

    Anyway, the story stars sixteen year old Jamie King. Her parents named her after the author, James Joyce. Jamie is on appearance painfully shy and quiet. This is true except when she in a duel. In a duel, Jamie takes on a more ruthless personality.

    Jamie’s characters include Mink, Mayberry, and Diablo. Mink is Jamie’s first character, an adorable fluffy bunny. Jamie has had Mink since she was six. Mink represents Jamie’s childish wishes and dreams. Mayberry is Jamie’s second character. She’s an angel complete with white fluffy wings, a halo, and the inability to do something bad. Mayberry was created when Jamie was ten and her older brother, who was at the time sixteen, got his girlfriend pregnant. Mayberry represents Jamie wishing that she can always remain pure and wholesome. Finally, Diablo is a demon. He has red scaly skin, a long red tail, and red devil horns. Diablo came about when Jamie was fourteen and she snuck out to go to a character duel competition. Diablo represents Jamie’s dark side.

    There is also Jamie’s boyfriend, Klaus Von Reich. He’s a first generation American and has a habit of swearing in German. Klaus can talk very tough but in the end gets beaten up on a regular basis. Klaus is noble and will do anything to protect his friends. Also, Klaus tends to be VERY jealous when it comes to Jamie. Klaus has a character named Blitzkrieg, also called Blitz. Blitzkrieg is a wolf that represents Klaus’s wish to be powerful.

    Like I said I need help picking a name. Here’s what I got so far

    1. The Magic in Characters
    2. A Writers Life
    3. The Inseparable Bond Between a Writer and Her Characters (may be changed to “The Bonds Between Writers and Characters”)

  41. LoneSword7878on 22 Jun 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve come up with for comics I want to write in the future. Here is what I came up with and you’re feel to tell me that I should not be sharing all of this.

    An simple action series similar to Power Rangers about a group of teens who can transform into genetically engineered superbeings, hybrids, that can tap the genes of certain animals. With their powers and abilities they take on a secret organization of eco-terrorists that came up with said powers and its various members.

    Some themes include “evil”, why people commit it, and how what seems “evil” at first glance is not always the case.

    “DFX Groove”
    An action series with a musical theme, it delves into the happenin’ and wiggity-whack culture of earlier music and dancing such as hip-hop and various other genres.

    Themes include how to use the power of the groove to go with the flow, keep it cool, and block out all of the negativity that comes from society.

    “B.N. Myself”
    This one was definitely a challenge for me to get together for a number of reasons, let alone the title which I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. If I could try to make sense of what this is, or at least what I want it to be, it’s one part imaginative action-comedy slice of life ala’ Scott Pilgrim, one part romantic comedy-drama, and one part blistering social criticism, I’ll admit.

    It’s divided into I guess 4 or 5 separate but interconnected stories that are all happening at once about gender and sexual nonconforming teens and how they learn to deal with society’s biases and prejudices and the status quo, stand up for themselves as private individuals rather than a collective and to live their lives the way they want, and what it means to be beyond normal.

    At first I was focusing on what people call LGBT, but then I began to encompass everything about sexuality and gender and how it’s expressed whether by simply doing nothing or getting into the more kinky stuff.

    “Star Reachers”
    This is another doozie in regards to its concept. The central plot is that mankind has taken off into space as their world has been destroyed by an invasion of alien monsters. A group of evolved children have come together and formed the “Star Reachers” whose objective is to search out the galaxy for life that survived other invasions by the “Necroids” while dealing with a corrupt government.

    It’s set mainly in space like “Mobile Suit Gundam” as the characters all come from various planets and lice together on a small traveling colony ship. It’s also another tokusatsu like show with a more emphasized touch of Mega Man X.

    While I’m hoping it will be a good action series, I consider it one of, if not, my most critical pieces right next to “B.N. Myself.” It will touch on such things like the status quo, mainstream society, politics and morality, individuality, nationalism and militarism, and bigotry.

  42. Mitchon 10 Oct 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I’m thinking of naming my story “The Bird of Oak Way”. Although it has next to nothing to do with actual birds, there is bird-related symbolism (two examples being the main antagonist’s surname being “Nightingale”, and the protagonist’s name being “Avis”, hinting that they are actually working together; and the symbolism of nightingales hinting at the villain’s true motive–he seeks to stop destiny, and a nightingale’s song is seen as the cry of a soul trapped in Purgatory).

  43. Fionaon 31 May 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I have some titles I’m considering for my first book. They are:
    Three Times Cursed
    The Shape Shifter
    Earth’s Creator’s Adventures
    What Happened to the Thing That Made the Earth
    I’m mostly going for the second one, but I’d like your advice. Also, I’m working on a second and third book. Here are the titles I would most like to use:
    2.The Journey
    3.The Second

  44. Jade D.on 22 Oct 2015 at 8:40 am

    I was wondering about a title I chose to call my novel (at least in its drafting stages). This working title is Spy Bros. and Company: The Declassified Origin. It is a novel that is basically a prequel to my web comic series that I started writing. I think the title could be better though, here’s what I’m looking for:
    -The story is mainly a comedy/drama with equal parts both.
    -The main protagonist is an ambitious teenager with dream of changing the world, alone, by himself, well good luck with that.
    -The main plot is him, his brother, an android, and a conspiracy club president trying to stop a villain from helping aliens take over the world.
    -A large part of the beginning is them trying to do this by themselves, but they only succeed with the help of others can they accomplish there goal
    -The main moral is sometimes you need to just leave things to the professionals or at least be properly trained before handling a lazar gun
    – I’m sure you can infer my writing style from that last sentence.

  45. catswoodsriveron 26 Oct 2015 at 5:11 pm

    How about From Misfits to Spies? Or I Can Change the World (I Just Need More Time)?

  46. B. McKenzieon 26 Oct 2015 at 10:08 pm

    “How about From Misfits to Spies?” I’d generally recommend against naming the genre (spies, in this case) in the title.

    “Or I Can Change the World (I Just Need More Time)?” It feels low-stakes. E.g. if hypothetically we were talking about an idealistic spy/assassin trying to change the world, maybe something like “One Assassination at a Time” or “Changing the World (One Assassination at a Time)”.

  47. Jade D.on 09 Nov 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Yeah, the only real reason I incorporated “Spy” into the “Spy Bros. and Company” is I like the element of contrast, it sounds like I somewhat local business specializing in espionage.
    And that’s the kind of feeling that I’m going for, a couple of teens trying to save there part of the world, but getting rapped up in the bigger world in the process.
    Also, “Assassin” is not the best descriptive noun to be associated with my story. Its more about aliens, space, and conspiracy theory stuff. Besides that I like the “Changing the World” formula, any more thoughts on that?

  48. B. McKenzieon 14 Nov 2015 at 10:53 am

    “It’s more about aliens, space, and conspiracy theory stuff.” I’m not sure that “Spy Bros. and Company” conveys that. Also, I’m guessing that this won’t fit very much into the spy genre (even if the characters believe they are spies, their work is very different than what most people come to mind when they think of spies). It sounds more like they’re private investigators that got wrapped up in a paranormal conspiracy (or several conspiracies).

    “Besides that I like the “Changing the World” formula, any more thoughts on that?” Maybe swapping out “Assassination” with “Alien Conspiracy” or “Conspiracy”? Or maybe an interesting image or figure involved in the case they’re working on (e.g. something along the lines of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”).

    Generally I’d recommend a title of fewer than 7 words, not including words which usually aren’t capitalized (e.g. the/of/an etc).

  49. Cat-vacuumer Supremeon 17 Sep 2016 at 1:09 pm

    What would you think about a book called The Creator’s Curse?

  50. B. McKenzieon 17 Sep 2016 at 2:45 pm

    “What would you think about a book called The Creator’s Curse?” I don’t feel like it tells me much about the plot, characters, or genre. On genre I’d guess supernatural action (or maybe horror) in the vein of CURSE OF THE (insert supernatural monster).

  51. Jed Hon 18 Sep 2016 at 4:50 am

    “The Creator’s Curse”

    I don’t feel like you’ve supplied enough to warrent relevant feedback. So far the only thing I can think of is maybe chucking an adjective in to give readers a taste of the ‘creator’s personality? i.e. ‘mad creator’ and ‘vengeful creator’ could work, but something more zany and/or unexpected could make readers want to know more (‘The shy creator’s curse’ or ‘the part-time creator’s curse’ have a wacky/unconventional feel, though I’m not sure what angle you’re aiming for)

  52. Cat-vacuumer Supremeon 19 Sep 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Well, it’s about an alien who created Earth and the curse of her people trapped her there. It’s about Jasmine’s adventures on Earth and has elements of a few genres, but mostly fantasy. It often shows a shadowy side of the world.

  53. Greyon 13 Dec 2016 at 9:54 am

    Trying to find a good title for the superhero story I’m writing. The main character is Paladin, and his team are the New Stormriders. Is Stormriders a good enough name?

  54. B. McKenzieon 13 Dec 2016 at 11:21 pm

    “Is Stormriders a good enough name?” On the plus side, if the story is otherwise publishable, a publisher wouldn’t turn you down over Stormriders. If it were me, though, I’d probably ask you to look into alternatives, particularly if you’re thinking of including Stormriders in a book title. (By the way, if you’re thinking of a novel or short story, having the team name in the title would be very uncommon. It’s sort of a lot more distinctive to comic books).

  55. (o_n')on 14 Dec 2016 at 9:09 am

    In detective novel series is not uncommon to use a teamname either. But for title I would avoid it, unless it is origin story of the team but that is only exception. Even for a comic book I feel there should be better alternatives.

  56. B. McKenzieon 15 Dec 2016 at 6:36 pm

    “Even for a comic book I feel there should be better alternatives.” I agree, either a more distinctive team name or a series name that isn’t the team name.

  57. Fae Lanson 27 Feb 2017 at 7:41 am

    So, my book is a politically themed fantasy story. The basis of the story is that the Death is actually multiple entities with the Grim Reaper being their leader. There is currently a civil war going on among the the reapers about the rule book that all reapers must follow. There is one side trying to change the rules and another trying keep everything the same. For my title I was thinking something like “Duverger’s Law of the Afterlife.” However i doubt this is stylish enough.

  58. Fae Lanson 28 Feb 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Does “Death-Wing Politics” sounds better

  59. B. McKenzieon 01 Mar 2017 at 1:10 am

    I like “Death Wing Politics” significantly better than “Duverger’s Law of the Afterlife.” It sounds ~workable, assuming the work is actually political in some way (in contrast, if this is more like a mob succession struggle or possibly a royal succession, I’d probably go with something that sounds less like a novel about an election or, worse, political nonfiction).

    If this work is less about an election than a really messy and/or violent struggle for power, I’d suggest “Scythes and Daggers.” My thinking here is that daggers hint at a struggle for power (and distrust/betrayal) without suggesting it’s mainly about an election. Or, if there is an election, we’re probably not mainly talking about speeches and focus groups.

  60. Fae Lanson 01 Mar 2017 at 4:51 am

    I should mention that the political system of the reapers is an oligarchy. A council selected by experience makes the laws. The Grim Reaper resides over the council and has final say on everything.

  61. B. McKenzieon 01 Mar 2017 at 3:58 pm

    “I should mention that the political system of the reapers is an oligarchy. A council selected by experience makes the laws. The Grim Reaper resides over the council and has final say on everything.” Not sure about Death Wing Politics then.

  62. Fae Lanson 13 Mar 2017 at 7:51 am

    I think I’m going to go with “Scythe and Dagger.” It shows the distrust and is a cool pun if cloak and dagger.

  63. Mitchon 22 Dec 2019 at 2:14 pm

    What do you think of these titles?

    The Mockingbird’s Reality: The protagonist is part of a subculture of people who have multiple personalities. They don’t consider themselves disordered, but mainstream society would. The protagonist is working through her PTSD and oneirophobia while investigating a serial killer and trying to evade a coworker who’s investigating her.

    The Serpent’s Hand: An anthropomorphic snake with odd phobias discovers that he can read minds with a touch. He works to uncover the source of his phobias, which happens to tie directly to the source of his power.

    In both cases, the main plot is the characters combatting their psychological issues in a Silent Hill-esque dreamworld. I figured that basing the titles off of this would make them seem too connected (they’re intended to be read as stand-alones), so I went for subplot-based titles.

  64. Feyon 12 Jul 2021 at 11:25 pm

    “Merlin MD” for a fantasy medical drama?

  65. BMon 14 Jul 2021 at 11:23 am

    Fey, I like the concept as a working title. It covers genre/plot well but I suspect something more stylish will emerge.

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