Killer Titles-Just Not Mine

24 Jun

Books need catchy titles that pull customers towards your book and hopefully buy it. I get it. I just can’t come up with one for my current work in progress. Many writers show off their wit and creativity with titles that are just so amazingly clever. I start drooling with envy when I see titles like High Heels over Murder, A Dilly of a Death, Ice Cold, or Bone House.

The titles I come up with are the equivalent of “What I Did on Summer Vacation.” Boring. Unimaginative. And it has always been that way no matter what I write. So far my working title for the mystery novel I am working on is “Senior Sleuth”. That’s it. I nearly had a great title when I thought of “Old Age is Murder” but a quick look on Google showed me it was very much already used. Drool. Drool.

I picked through my writing books and searched through the web to see if there was a
magic formula for creating the perfect title. I didn’t find one but I found lots of advice:

  • make it catchy ( of course)
  • link it to a familiar concept so people will relate to it
  • make it memorable
  • spark interest
  • use words with a “plosive” letter (use letters B,C,D,K,P)
  • be brief

And then I found this definition of the perfect title written by Alan Rinzler: “the perfect title is a tight high-concept combination of words that crystallizes the content of the work. A title so scintillating and irresistible that millions of readers want to run and buy this book
OMG I think I am so doomed. 

I decided to try out titles using plosive letters. Death by Popcorn. Killing with Barbecue
Sauce. That was about all I could come up with and neither title relates to my book. Probably relates to the fact that I was hungry while I was trying out titles.

So I think I am screwed. I’m three-quarters through writing my nameless novel that will never have a title that will make readers run to buy it. I am definitely title-challenged. Even the title of this post “Title Phobia” is pretty lame. I use a soft “p” and not a plosive “p”. I should have named this post “Dynamite Titles” or “Killer Titles”.  Wait a minute. I like that. “Killer Titles” . Sounds catchy, doesn’t it? Scroll upwards. Delete “Title Phobia”. Proudly type in “Killer Titles”. I think I am on to something.

My book is about a senior sleuth named Bernadette DiStefano. She’s passionate about preventing crimes against the elderly and just as passionate about cooking. She’s even been known to bring food to her suspects!

Keep reading my blog to find out what the title of my mystery novel turns out to be. Be sure to let me know if you have any suggestions. We title-challenged people can use all the help we can get.


Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Killer Titles-Just Not Mine

  1. Holly Price

    June 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    If I were you, I’d consider “Old Age Ain’t for Sissies”. That’s what Bette Davis had embroidered on a pillow in her dressing room, and it’s so true!


    • cwall34

      June 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      “Old Age Ain’t for Sissies” sounds like a great title. I’ll check to see if it has been used. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Elaine Davis

    June 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I took a course and came up with the title of my book when the instructor asked us a series of questions. Having looked through my notes, I can’t come up with how she did it, but it was something like this. 1. What’s the conflict about? 2. What is the emotional demeanor of your book? Combine the two using a noun and verb/adjective and you’ve got it. Sometimes using what seems to be an oxymoron can interest readers. Mine is Toasting Fear Good luck and I’ll stay tuned!

    • cwall34

      June 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      I’m going to play around with some titles using your approach. I love your title! I did read somewhere of other questions to ask when you are trying to come up with a title. There were questions like “is there a beautiful phrase in the book that could be used?”, “what is the big lesson the protagonist learns?”, “is there a recurrent idea in the book?”. I thought those were good questions but didn’t really lead me to a title.


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