The Title Fight


The First Sixteen (2)
So many titles fighting to be the chosen one ….


Writers by nature will read an abundance of ‘top tips’ on their craft.

Is it because we all want to be the best?

Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2
An individual story title, which is itself a well-known phrase.

I would suggest not. Whatever our reasons for writing, I believe the majority of us read top tips to improve our craft.

We don’t want to be the one whom everybody else is calling ‘comma man’, or ‘she who loves exclamation marks!!!

The driving force for us is to write, followed by the desire to do so to the best of our ability.

Some of us will work tirelessly, aiming to improve with every sentence, paragraph, chapter, and ultimately book – or title.

We are in this strange world through personal choice. We learn through comments, suggestions, tips, textbooks, and sheer hard work. We want what works best on several levels.


Titles are right up there in the ‘top tips’.

Personally, I’ve given up on the 1,001 theories. For example: Should we avoid anything which sounds like a famous book or film? Should we use a cliché? Should we use one word, or a phrase? The list of methods is endless.

The basis of the story

In the end, it is an individual choice.

Take for example the title of this article. I’ve checked over many hundreds of blog posts and found there is little correlation between the day an article is posted and its success.

Where have I found the most comments, or most success?

Yes, for me, the secret is in a catchy title.


When I choose a title for a poem, short story, or novel it sometimes takes longer than the piece of work. I can end up with a considerable list, but the deliberation is worthwhile.

I can honestly say I wouldn’t change the title of any of my individual short stories or books, because I spent so long getting to the end result.

This blog post is an exception, because I came up with the title first.

Recruits outside a Sandhurst Block in Catterick
A series title with a meaningful sub-title for each part.

For my various books I’ve tried to use a title which would work without a book cover. I know it will sound strange if you’re a writer, because we constantly discuss how important the cover is for a book.

What about a blind or partially-sighted person who judges by what they hear?

They might depend on ‘hearing’ the book. They’ll hear a list of titles, and they’ll hear the blurbs, but they might never ‘see’ the cover, so it becomes meaningless.

I want my titles to convey an image before the cover is created.

You’ll have seen notes under the books I’ve chosen to highlight in this article. Clicking on these graphics will take you to the book’s page.

If you’ve read this far I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my theories, and perhaps you’ll take something away from here.

Highland Games - 1 (2)
A play on words, using a euphemism for the new novella series.

I thank you for seeing the title of the post and taking an interest.


10 thoughts on “The Title Fight

    1. Hi Julia. Yes, it’s one of those nightmare areas we all have to conquer. I start making a list of ‘possibles’ as soon as I have the idea for a story, and it doesn’t get any easier with practise. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Julia Lund

        I do that, but it seems to make it harder as the list grows. I sometimes think I’d be better with no choices when it comes to naming my novels. I have two I’m working on at the moment (one is slumbering away on a memory stick), both of which I’ve named. And that’s that. I’ll run them past IASD once I have first drafts completed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re in good comany Lisa. 🙂 In the early days, when writing poetry I realised how much time I spent deliberating about titles, so by the time I got around to regular short stories I had already hit on the idea of constant lists.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree, a good title can make all the difference. I can’t remember now exactly, but I’m sure I once read this about a great writer – who first came up with these great titles, and then proceeded to pick one and produce a story accordingly… Nowadays, with so many authors out there, I think the biggest challenge is coming up with something unique. Googling it before settling on it seems like the cautious approach… Great article, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ramona. I agree the ‘Google’ search is always a good idea. When I decided on ‘Beyond The Law’ for my thriller set in Scotland I didn’t know anything about the Tom Cruise TV or films of the same name, but I decided to stick with it, because I figured my book would sit in good company on Amazon – and it does.
      By the late autumn I hope to have the trilogy complete when ‘Consequences’ is published. 🙂


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