What’s In a Title?


This blog is called “The Wednesday Blog On a Thursday!” because I’m terrible at time-management and I have a memory like a… what’s that thing… tiny dolphin?

Titles are a tricky thing to get right, but when they work you to buy a book or read a poem, so they’re kinda important.

I’m a huge fan of both JK. Rowling and Philip Pullman, but I’ve got to say Pullman wins in the Titles category – there’s The Dark Materials trilogy comprised of The Northern Lights, Subtle Knife, and Amber Spyglass, or there’s his Sally Lockhart books of The Ruby in the Smoke or The Tiger in the Well, to name but a few.

Rowling, meanwhile, has Harry Potter and the Something of Something, for several iterations.

Now here’s the thing, I love Pullman’s titles, and they work for Pullman’s books, but it would be a strange world where Harry Potter’s name didn’t emblazon the books he’s in.

A good title provides either Hook, Context, or Familiarity. I think Pullman is a master of the Hook. You can’t read those titles without wondering what they’re about.

Rowling, on the other hand, went down the familiarity/context route. Picking up the newest HP book and reading the title was a story in itself. You already knew he was going to be in Hogwarts doing magic, but this time, this time! there’s a cup, or a snake, or a deathly wotsit.

Both authors have good titles, but each has a different requirement for their stories. Have a think about what your own writing needs, what are you trying to tell the reader, where are you taking them, how do you want them to feel?

Oh, and as for the Wednesday Blog, that’s just so you know never to expect good time management from a writer. We are the masters of procrastin-hey, what’s that over there –


What’s In a Title?

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