Coming up with titles is a hobby of mine. Having been in a band, written music, and now stories, I spend an inordinate amount of time using random word generators and trawling the internet to spark my imagination when coming up with new titles. I also love dragging my fingers across the spines in the crime section of bookstores, reading the titles for the sheer fetish of it.

In the world of crime fiction, I have to say that most titles I come across are generic, only giving a hint as to the rough area of subject matter while being a painfully clear reminder that this is crime fiction.

You know the ones: Death Room, Black Murder Weapon, Kill For A Cuddle.

I'm just wondering what kind of titles draw people towards a book. Does alliteration catch your eye, or are you pulled in by something jarring or obscure? Do you prefer something more conventional, because at least you know you're in the right aisle of the bookstore? Or are you the kind that goes for big, single word titles that could easily be used for a goth/nu-metal/American Idol wannabe?

As Mr. Terrenoire says, "talk to me."

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\Listening to more and more stories about publishers selecting titles for "marketing purposes" regardless of what the author wants makes me less and less interested in titles (and cover art for that matter).

But if I did have a favourite form of title then it is something lyrical - different - interesting - not the "Dead" or "Death by" "Murder in" or the various forms of the bleeding obvious.
Like Karen, I don't really like those "Death of A..." ones. I also don't like cutesy ones, or some of the very twee punny ones. On the other hand, they can be very useful. KNITTED TO DEATH tells me it's a knitting mystery BREAD AS A DODO tells me it's a cooking mystery (probably with 17 different recipes for baked goods, slotted in at a most inappropriate time 'The killer came into the room, brandishing a pointy and dangerous knife "You interfering tart, I'm going to kill you." That reminded me of the lovely strawberry tart I had made the week before. Take half a pound of ripe strawberries and mush them into a compote....' I know the book is going to bring me out in a gluten allergy) and so I know to steer away from those. Anything with the word CONSPIRACY in the title. Or anything which makes it clear it's a medical thriller.

Like Margot I love quotes, and songs. I also like one word titles - Mark Haskell Smith's MOIST or Ken Bruen's VIXEN just roll off the tongue, . A bizarre title will attract my eye - John Welter's NIGHT OF THE AVENGING BLOWFISH, or Christopher Moore's ISLAND OF THE SEQUINNED LOVE NUN, or Charlie Owen's HORSE'S ARSE or Charlie Williams' FAGS AND LAGER. Christopher Brookmyre has some great titles, such as BOILING A FROG, or ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEBODY LOSES AN EYE.

Of course, a great title is no guarantee of a good book, and some of my favourite books have really blah titles, and I know that often authors have little or no say, but it doesn't stop me being shallow :o) And if I'm writing something I fret until it has a title that I think fits perfectly.
I so agree! I too love Mr Brookmyre's titles - in fact, that's why I started reading his books, and I also bought (but have yet to read) Horse's Arse just because... well, you've got to, really! Like spotting a book called Donkey Punch, for example, you just can't walk away!

One worders, I think Irvine Welsh does a canny job (Trainspotting, Glue, Porno) although he doesn't limit himself to those, obviously. I also like James Hawes' titles - A White Merc with Fins, Rancid Aluminium, White Powder, Green Light. So many times I've picked a book up for the title, and so often it's turned out just fine. Which is why I've now got a couple more to add to the list... will it ever end?
A title draws me quickly. I have been intrigued by Mistress of the Art of Death for several weeks and just ordered it. The title drew me in, the inner flap intrigued me, and the first chapter grabbed me. I don't even remember the cover art!

Titles can be anything, except ordinary, for them to grab my attention.

Mallory's Oracle
The Magdalen Martyrs
Bucket Nut
The Caveman's Valentine
The Mermaids Singing
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

They just need to catch my eye and pique my curiosity.
I like one word titles and titles that contain images or allusions to strange things in the past. Strangely, I have never associated this with goth/nu-metal/American Idol (God forbid). I think all that means is that they have better publicists.
Why? And in this case, the missing apostrophe would make me shun the book like poison.
Colman, I am definitely going to look up some of these as we seem to have very similar tastes. I loved HORSE'S ARSE. I also thought it was going to be down to earth and bawdy and, indeed it was. I'm not a fan of pretentious books either :o) I dislike books that take themselves too seriously (I don't mean they have to be funny, and I like serious books, but there's a difference). I wish more people had read CORNED BEEF SANDWICH - it's such a wonderful book.
Oh, I see. Right. It's a form of rebellion.
Corrned beef? I thought it was a form of preservation, and a much better one than lutefisk. (My grandfather was Norwegian so I can say that.)

Sorry, silly titles seem to have gone to my head.
Horse's Arse is a particularly British expression, which makes it jump out for me because it's also a very Aussie thing to say. It refers to someone that makes an idiot of themselves.
Um, yeah. We say that over on the other side of the pond, too. Except for the arse thing. It's horse's ass. 'Cause we're Amer'cans, dammit.
Sometimes I mistakenly wonder if Americans have running water, electricity, and beer. Then my mind starts to wander. For instance, Amer'cans sounds a lot like Merkins.

Umm, I'm running away now.


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