Naming a book


Notice the creative single-word title of this entry? I’ve been thinking a lot about how so many books have mono titles these days. This has made me wonder, would my book find a home faster with a one-word name? I mean we know lots of books by one word even if they have a longer moniker. Lassie did it (Lassie, Come Home) and Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Buddy in A Dog’s Purpose…eventually.

So, why not Hotdog? I guess I could keep Hotdog since I and everyone else in workshops with me have referred to it as that since its inception. Still, Hotdog doesn’t really TELL what the book is about. But do any of the mono titles, really? Or are they only meant to hint at what’s inside? To tease at the plot, the character, the theme? WebCharlotte—Friendship




Ironically, coming up with one word is asking a lot of me considering I was the over-achieving sophomore in Leavenworth High who penciled three pages, single-spaced when our English teacher challenged us to compose the longest prepositional phrase. And as a junior I rewrote Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales based on Woodstock (the New York music festival, not Snoopy’s bird). Oh, and I can’t forget the endless notes I passed between classes with my best friend, Jaymee, in middle school, before texts were even a twinkle in any techie’s eye.  

Where does this title trend come from then? Is it a backlash to the word salad we face these days? Our cry for help in the verbiage avalanche? Our way of coping with mass media madness?

Whatever. I’m willing to give it a go. But how do authors come up with one-word wonders? Do they start like a grocery list?




That can’t be right. A grocery list is what you’re out of, not what already stocks the shelves. A title list would have to be what the book is full of, wouldn’t it? Or… uh… maybe not. Naming that might tricky with some books depending on the topic, the genre…the quality. Don’t get me wrong. I applaud anyone who’s had the guts to write a book, to see it through to publication. Even to a first draft! But I do want to keep this blog middle-grade geared, so I won’t go there. (Although, it would be an interesting discussion elsewhere.)

It can’t be as generic as milk, eggs, or tp either. Is it whole, 2%, almond? Brown, free-range, extra-large? Ultra, quilted, mega-roll? Name choice must be focused to plot, character, theme, of course, but even more so because characters come as casts and themes are intertwined. So, is it possible to isolate so much with a single word? It must be because… well… there’s Holes, Pax, HAMILTON!  It must be descriptive yet succinct. But it won’t be easy. I’m willing to try, though, even if it takes 366 tries. So, here goes.

Hotdog title‒Take 1…. ROADTRIP

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