DaveK's picture

I came across this in Orson Scott Card's web site. It was in the writers workshops area. The web site is at:


A few ways to come up with titles:

1.Person. It could be an actual name (Emma, Jane Eyre), a nickname, a title or position (Speaker for the Dead, The Count of Monte Cristo), or a description (The Time Traveler's Wife, The Last Juror, The Three Musketeers). The person in question should probably be either the protagonist or the antagonist, although if the person has great "off-stage" importance it can still work (Rebecca.)

2.Place. It can be a specific place name (Mansfield Park, Main Street, Cetaganda), more generic (Island, Neutron Star) or a description (The Two Towers, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.)

3.Thing. (The Sword, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

4.Event. (The Trial, The Return of the King)

5.Time. (1984, 1632, Seven Days in May, Twilight)

6.The Ludlum Method. Follow the pattern used for most Robert Ludlum books: The [Name] [Noun]. (The Bourne Identity, The Da Vinci Code) {I'm not saying Ludlum wrote The Da Vinci Code, I'm saying it follows the pattern.}

7.Blank and Blank. (Romeo and Juliet, War and Peace, Pride and Prejudice, The Old Man and the Sea)

8.Blank of/from/to/on/in/for/other-preposition Blank. (A Storm of Swords, The Deed of Paksenarrion, Night of Madness, The Man in the High Castle)

9.Blank's Blank. (Hart's Hope, Ender's Game, Exile's Valor)

10.Quotations or literary allusions, whether well-known or obscure. (Something Wicked This Way Comes, To Sail Beyond the Sunset)

[This message has been edited by EricJamesStone (edited April 26, 2004).]

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camidon's picture

Importance of a Title

Over the years my view of titling has altered, but it its most recent form, I believe it to be the MOST important thing about an entire story.

Because it's the first thing anyone reads of your work. It sets the tone for what is inside a book or short story. A boring title will set the story up poorly. Titles must actively engage a reader and pull them into the story. Then, when one has finished a story, the title of that story should have new meaning.

I've very against character name (Emma/Jane Eyre) and place names (Mansfield), though descriptions like (Speaker for the Dead or Restaurant at the End of the Universe can be good).

I remember (from writing classes of long ago) stories that would come through with no title. Ick. Titles are how we relate to stories and how we remember them. They should be given significant thought. A story without a title is like a race horse without legs; the body and breed may be perfect, but it's going to take them a while to get anywhere.


Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.