The Title Goes to…

Dancing up a stormWe have an active Realm Makers alumni group on Facebook and one thread centered around titles. Titles are a big deal to me and one of my favorite parts of writing. I love doing the title thing and I’ve taken several approaches.

I’m going to use this topic as a shameless plug for my latest short story. It’s part of a dance-themed anthology published by Hope Springs Press for the Writers on the Storm ACFW chapter. The story  anthology is called Dancing Up a Storm, and my story is called “Night Dance.” It’s loosely based on the obscure fairytale “Kate Crackernuts”. My version features Elves and Pixies in a steampunk setting. The heroine is a nursing student and the hero an industrialist’s son. The title comes from the reason the hero is ill. He goes on a quest to find his birth parents and discovers his heritage.

Other inspiration I’ve used includes plot points. My first short story was “Neatly Arranged” and is about a lawyer who is forced into an arranged marriage. I’ve done setting a couple of times. My second short story, “Detention,” focuses on both the setting of high school detention and the condition of expatriates denied visas to return home. “The Field Trip” was recently featured on the Splickety Lightning Blog.

Word play is probably my favorite. My Splickety short story,”The Watchmont,” is a science fiction version of the Good Samaritan and the title is based on the etymology of Samaritan. My soon-to-be-released story for the Realm Makers anthology is “Undermined”and revolves around the mining industry.

My first series has the working titles of Acid, Catalyst, and Precipitate. All have the chemical theme and relate to the heroine’s journey. She’s an acid-tongued girl in the first. In the second, she’s used as a catalyst by her enemies to bring about the end game. Precipitate is about the final mission and its fallout. I recently had Acid professionally edited, and I’m rewriting it. Because of the changes I’m making to the story, the heroine will be in a different place spiritually and the acid-tongued persona no longer fits. Her wit is still caustic, so maybe I’ll just raise the pH a bit when selecting a new title.

Not only do I like inventing titles, I’ve picked books because of the title. It’s how I found Ronie Kendig. I’m not generally a suspense fan but couldn’t resist her Nightshade series its medicinal/poisonous titles.

Nadine Brandes is another favorite author. Her books are A Time to Die and A Time to Speak. So many (myself included) thought she’d name the third book A Time to Live. Instead it’s going to be A Time to Rise. Brilliant!

How important is a good title to you?

Have you ever selected a book because of its title?

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

6 comments on “The Title Goes to…

  1. I don’t know if I’ve picked a book solely on title but there are a few that definitely got second-takes from me because of title. Larklight (and sequels) by Philip Reeve, Wondrous Strange (and sequels) by Lesley Livingston, the Septimus Heape books by Angie Sage, Graceling by Kristin Cashore,

  2. Appreciate your title word play. It reveals an author’s mastery of synchronizing story with intriguing title, and synergizes with the cover all partnering in a seductive invitation to free fall into the story world. Keep up the good work!

  3. I wish I had your “title” gift, Gretchen! UGH! I’m re-titling the first book of my YA series for a reason similar to those you noted above–the original title described well the hero’s journey but the book is now as much about the heroine’s journey, and their together journey, that the title no longer fits. And I needs a SERIES title to. Ho hum…

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