Names are more than just letters strung together. They have power and meaning. In some cultures, a name is carefully considered before being chosen since it's supposed to have great impact on the person's whole life. In other cultures, certain names are to be feared as in this newspaper story on British fishermen and superstitions about the name Graham.
Most authors use the same care when choosing a name for a book or story. The name, hopefully, will signify something in the story, like a play on words, or come from part of the story as in Margaret Mitchell's famous book, its name taken from the description of the South being a way of life Gone With The Wind. Or a title should invoke curiosity. Some names, of course, are more obscure and the meaning can't be determined at first glance.
I think my favorite names are plays on words and puns. Mysteries use this style a lot: For Better or Hearse; Holmes on the Range; Evan Blessed; see this Amazon.com Listmania for others.
Funny, and not so funny, at least to the author, is coming up with what sounds like an original title, or their publisher picks a title for which they have no say - and it turns out there are several other books that have the same title.
But choosing a title isn't always an easy process.
Initially, I hated the first title I'd thought of for Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, but I couldn't think of anything else. I can't remember the exact name, but I know it changed a couple times. I think at first it was the Missing Miniature Art Mystery or something similar - too many mmmm's. Then there was something like Sam's Search for the Missing Art. ZZZ. Blah.
The resulting Searching For A Starry Night is a little cryptic, but makes perfect sense. The photo image of the empty painting gives a clue and reading the blurb reveals that the mystery involves the search for an actual miniature replica of Van Gogh's famous painting, Starry Night. The blue stars on the cover background reflect the painting name, too, so it all ties together.
The sad part is when a title is chosen that doesn't really have any meaning or link to the book. Maybe the choice is made via a quick read of the book blurb, or some other reason. Then the author is stuck explaining it, which can be good, and bad, in and of itself.
** Your Turn: Got a favorite book title or know of one that you think makes no sense at all? Or hate your own book title? Please Share!
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