15 Tips for Creating Titles

15 Tips for Creating Titles by Dilyana Kyoseva (CatMint5 on wattpad)

I’ve written about this on wattpad, but since coming up with a catchy title is one of the most crucial and hardest to achieve tasks, I’ve decided to post about it here as well.

First, I want to point out that these are guidelines about creating titles, not something that’s set in stone. Now that that’s out of the way… Here’s the list:

  1. Do some research. Look at books in the genre you are writing in and see what they are using. Don’t copy the titles though.
  2. Use your audience’s language. Don’t use fancy, university-level terms if you are aiming at the average 13-18 years old teenager.
  3. Keep it simpleThe girl who wore glasses and rode a bike and fell over my brand new, very expensive car with costume paint jobis a not a title, it’s a complete nightmare. Yes, I may be going too far with this example, but then again, I’ve been on wattpad and I’ve seen similar titles. So, don’t make it too complicated and also…
  4. Don’t make it too long. Most people would say that you shouldn’t go for more than seven words.
  5. Use word play/double meaning.
  6. Use alliteration. That is the when words that are next to or close to one another start with the same sound. A lot of people find that alluring. Examples of alliteration: Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, PayPal, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Bed Bath & Beyond, Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers… You get it, right?
  7. Use opposing ideas as titles.Example: Fire and Ice.
  8. Use keywords that apply to your book (main theme, conflict/challenge that the characters are facing, mood, etc.) in or as your title.
  9. Avoid giving away too much information with the title. Show the main theme, yes, but don’t disclose the ending or a major plot twist. Would it even be a plot twist if people know about it from the start? I think not.
  10. A lot of people would advise you not to use cliches; they’d tell you to avoid The Bad Boy and the Good Girl or The Jock and the Nerd as titles; then again, a lot of people are looking exactly for that type of books. That gets us back to what I told you before: know your audience and use their language.
  11. Names as titlesare another example of a divided audience: some say it’s a good thing, some say it’s just lazy. I’m thinking about the movie Lucy here; by itself the name isn’t anything special, yet a lot of people enjoyed the film. They probably watched the trailer before they saw the movie though. So, how can you make your name-as-a-title title better? Alliteration. Word play. A peculiar name. And this applies to both character names and place names.
  12. Think of the theme of your story and google it, but search for images. Pen down random words which describe the images that grab you the most – just a couple of words per each picture –  and work with those words when you make your title.
  13. Is there anything odd/unusual about your character(s)? Include it in the title.
  14. Use similar titles for a series. For example, the first book I posted on wattpad is called The Green Girl and its sequel is Frost on the Green. This tip also works for covers when marketing a series.
  15. Run it by your friends. Once you have a title ready, ask your friends and family what they think of it. If you are part of a writing group, ask your writing buddies. But even if you haven’t come up with a title yet, you could always summarize your story and ask people to give suggestions in writing forums.

Another post you might be interested in is the short Tuesday Tiny Writing Tip #23 – Help with Those Pesky Titles where I give one more way to come up with a title.

Do you have any tips for creating titles? If so, write them in the comments!

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