Mistitled

New Years Eve and I wish all of you a safe and happy 2022. Take care of yourself and those around you.

It’s a Free Week and I was pressed for a topic. I have not finished a book recently,(save a prequel anthology audiobook), and I have been tied-up with other concerns. Honestly, I have never read so little in my life!

As I write this on Wednesday, it was Patty-the-Monday Fox and Elaine-the-Wednesday Fox that brought forward something that has been bothering me:

there are some really lame book titles being used lately.

 The ones that Patty and Elaine reviewed all had really great titles, from plays on words, a change in one letter that made a funny title, or like Elaine’s, there were engaging titles.

A title should make you want to read the story; that is all there is to it. I have complained for years about those terrible artsy fondant icings that are ‘too pretty to eat’, which is a failure on the part of the baker. Beautiful food should make you want to dig in, because it has impressed you that it must taste as good as it looks. Thank Heaven, those cakes are falling out of favor and buttercream is back…and apparently, better titles need to start being created again.

Now, I know how hard it is to be original in a title and I think that may be why titles can’t be copyrighted. I never thought to find out why, I am just glad that they are free to use because the same titles do fit any number of the books, with little wiggle room for change. I also realize with the new world of publishing that there are a LOT of books that have been published in the last decade alone, especially romance, mysteries, and fantasy. I understand that people also don’t want to use the same titles, but honestly, many, many titles that I see actually make me groan.

Some aim for a pun and don’t make it. Some use a twist of another title or familiar phrase and just miss the mark. I won’t embarrass the authors, (some of whom we all know), but they often remind me of the old Tim Conway/Don Knotts movie “The Private Eyes”. It’s a silly movie but some of the lines were good. Tim and Don were detectives and someone was  leaving clues around an old mansion, and every one of them missed an obvious rhyme, like:

“I said when I died, that I’d come back. If you believe in ghosts, you’re on the right track. I’m out of the grave, and roaming the moors. If you want to be safe, you better lock all the windows and screens.”

That is just about how a few titles strike me.

Clever is fine, but a writer has to make sure that they hit the mark. Also, an appropriate title is important.

A title is good when it makes me laugh, but it works only if the book is funny. A writer needs to invite me into the world that they created. They can intrigue me, but they need to hit the main topic or idea.

Patty’s reviews were “Duck the Halls”. It is a good play on words, since the book is about a series of pranks in churches getting ready for Christmas and does involve ducks among other creatures; HIT.

“A Witness to Murder”: short, to the point, gripping; HIT.

“Crewel” World” and “Framed in Lace”: cozy mysteries, nice plays on words, set in a needlework-world; HIT.

“Nine Ladies Dancing, Christmas Miracles”: even if you didn’t know the series of these anthologies, you could guess exactly what you will get; enthralling romance stories of Christmastimes past; HIT.

And Elaine’s! “The Table in the Window”: intriguing, beguiling, a ‘yes!-pull-me-into-your-story’ title; HIT.

(I have been very pleased with the Hound and the Foxes titles. I was going to use them as examples, but there are so many! I didn’t want to exclude any and make anyone wonder, “What was wrong with the ones she left out?” LOL.)

 I have not made the rounds of many blogs in the last couple of years. I used to frequent many who did reviews and interviews. I used to check out many writers’ works, those of friends and friends of friends, but I still see many titles, and I sometimes actually cringe.

I think more effort needs to be made by many of these writers, publishers, and editors.

I know that a publisher of at least one of the writer’s books mentioned above is very concerned about titles. I think the big publishing houses still are. I believe some of the newer, smaller publishers lack experience or are afraid of alienating their writers, but a big part of their job is to make the stories appealing to readers, (or why bother?)

Without calling out any writers, have you often found some of the newer titles to be wanting?

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to Mistitled

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Coming up with a title is usually the worst part of writing a story! There have been a few times when I actually came up with the title before writing the book, and that was a challenge, too. I suppose titles that I find unimpressive are those that don’t tell me anything about the story within, like “A Day to Remember” or titles that don’t seem to fit the genre, like a romance story titled “The Haunted Cabin.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grant at Tame Your Book! says:

    Well said! During the writing and editing process, titles should remain fluid. An author’s task list should include learning how a cover’s title, fonts, image, and blurbs work together. Thanks for your insights, Tonette!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff Salter says:

    I love your line, “A writer needs to invite me into the world that they created.”
    Exactly.
    And what better way than with the title and cover.
    As to your invitation to list any titles I’ve found wanting: well, let me just say that MANY I’ve seen either sound lame, vague, or uninteresting to me. Sorry I can’t think of any examples right this moment.
    In my own writing, I’ve had stories that practically BEGAN with a title — like “Hid Wounded Reb.”
    Conversely, I’ve had stories for which I’ve had to struggle to arrive at a title that I can tolerate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have done well with your titles, Jeff, no one here has been at a loss for good titles, really. But I am glad that I am not alone in what I see is out there. The titles are so lame, I can’t imagine how bad the writing in the story is, which is the exact opposite of what should be happening.
      Is there an editor shortage?

      Liked by 1 person

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