Friday, January 22, 2010

And Speaking of Titles Still...

Do not judge a book by its cover, sages tell us; they should have continued with, "And not by its title either."

How would Jane Eyre have been treated differently if it had been titled Rochester? Or A Gothic Romance of Heartbreak and Love? Would today's bestsellers have sold better if their titles had been changed?

All the questions above imply that a title and cover do not a good book make. However, it would do all of us a great deal of good to admit that a title can catch attention and make people pick up a book and actually read it. If anything, the title is the hook; the bait is the first few sentences; taking a reader hook, line, and sinker means that the reader dives into the book headlong and revels in every single word and sentence of its literary richness.

So what does all this mean? Balance.

Don't concentrate on your title too much. You want to catch your readers with a great book, not have them slavering over your title, and then disappoint them with your poorly written content. On the other hand, don't disregard the power of your title: You want to catch people's attention, not turn them away from a potentially great book.

Sometimes, a great title will just pop into your head, forcing you to write a story. At other times, you will need to finish your book before you even get an idea for a title. Whichever the case, don't think too hard. Let the title come to you. Work on your writing skills first.

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