How do you decide on a novel’s title?


After my first novel was published, I had a plan for the trilogy. That included their titles, or so I thought.

My first novel is title Into Fire. I wanted the titles to be along those same lines, so the trilogy fit together. Some type of preposition, and then one of the basic elements (which are part of the plot in my novel).

By the time I was half finished with the second novel (which is now with the publisher) I had decided on the title for it: Over Water. I tied it into the story a couple of ways, though it wasn’t as metaphorical in some ways as with the first novel. It fit what I was going for, though, and I think there are a couple ways in which it really works with the story.

I had a small argument over it, though, with my brother, who is helping me with the business aspect of being an author and who reads my novels before we send them to a publisher (part of the revision process). He disliked it. He thought we needed to come up with something different. No ideas that we tossed around fit as well in my head, though, and so we stuck with Over Water (for now).

As for the third in the trilogy, I am currently at a loss for what to call it. Hopefully by the time I’m halfway done with it, I will have a better idea.

I’ve had to write headlines for articles and news releases in the past in my career as a journalist and marketing professional, so I’m not unaccustomed to trying to sum things up in a few words. Coming up with the title for a novel, though, is different. You want it short, simple, and tied in with your book. Some books – depending on the genre and what the book is about – might be really easy. Others not.

My brother and I decided a while ago that when it came to coming up with a title, we would both brainstorm and write down ideas – any and all – that we could think up over, say, a week. Then we’d send them to each other and decide which were our favorite. Then we’d talk until we both decided on one that we felt fit the book (though I have final say, my brother is as creative in many ways as I am, and his ideas usually have good reason behind them).

How do you come up with your titles? Is there a method to your madness?

I'm a lover of writing and books. I graduated from South Dakota State with a master's degree in communications in 2011, the same year I was first published. I'm a wife and mom, and I work in marketing in Sioux Falls.

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Posted in Intrigues

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