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July 16, 2010


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Erika Robuck

My son is grinning ear to ear. He loved being featured in a writing blog! :)

Seriously, my favorite title ever is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The irony. The perfection. Unforgettable!

Casey Freeland

I like titles that stretch me out either literally, making me look at the far away, or imaginatively, making me consider what I hadn't before.

I've always loved "The City at the End of Time" by Greg Baer.

I love when a title intimates something you don't find out about right away. "Kushiel's Dart" is an example. Jacqueline Carey set up mystery with those two words. A Plague of Angels by Sheri Tepper is another example.

I guess I'm a thing title lover. Matches my own novel, Dalia's Fire. A a couple of titles of WIP's.

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Hey Erika...happy to have been able to include your son's title. Think he hit on something key when it comes to titling a book.

Thanks for bringing up "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." It is such a perfect title.

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Casey...ah, the nuance of the "thing title"...something you don't find out about right away. Good point.


Sometimes I just like titles that make me think or ask a question. "The Golden Mean" by Annabel Lyon, for example.


Great titles are, to me, titles that "speak to an expectation."

That expectation may be a time, an understanding, a coupling, an event... but it incites curiosity even as it promises an action, and more importantly: a consequence.

Expectations compel humans.

WHEN YOU REACH ME, a haunting novel by Rebecca Stead, is a prime example.

The very best of the titles that "speak to an expectation" do double duty, as Ms. Stead's does, by seeming to be clear about the 'top note' of the work, but by the end of the read, actually describes the 'bass notes' of the story...
Notes of that essential perfume of a great tale, the 'theme.' Delivering that "got what she didn't know she needed more than she got what she wanted" realization --
resulting in that maturation of a title that rewards a Reader with a deeper meaning, in thanks for them staying until the very end.

But then, a great title never really ends, does it?

After the book is read (for the first or umpteenth time), the great title lives on to headline our memory of "that time in my life when I was in that book."
The great title lives on to be a gift told to a friend;
to be a rich mind-movie each time it's heard in context; and lives on to be an emotional jolt when it's overheard in happenstance, out of context.

Write a great title.
Keep us compelled to the last page and rewarded for the journey.
Inspire a great editor to reread the ms to plant or nurture your scented notions to further bloom and ripen the personal perfume of the newly-titled work...

Make us remember your great title years later as a new standard, even tearing up even as we wax overlong and over-longingly in some kind lady's comments...

Write on,

~ @TheGirlPie

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  • Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe
Shanghai, China

I live in Shanghai, China, with my Irish
husband and Vietnamese daughter.
Throughout the past four years, I've
crisscrossed the globe more times than
I can count, and while doing so, have
discovered what a kooky, miraculous,
and lovely place our world is. My experiences
enlighten me, inspire me, and crack me up.