A Story by Any Other Name…

Tonight, on my way home from work, I swung by a thrift shop near my house.  I love to browse around and meticulously read every single title on the shelf.  Sometimes, you get lucky and find a gem hidden among the dross.  (I once found a pristine, anniversary reprint of the first five 1920’s era Nancy Drew books.  It can happen.)  Going through all the titles–award-winners like Bud, Not Buddy right next to Babysitter’s Club #374: Claudia and the Fill-In-The-Blank-Here–is interesting.  I usually find myself imagining what the books with titles I don’t recognize might be about.

I am a writer, by hobby, but for me the title is the last thing I come up with.  I usually refer to the manuscript by the protagonist’s name until it is finished and I have to call it something.  It’s been that way for me since I was a wee thing writing the first grade mangum opus, The Grouchy Horse. (You notice that seven year-old me did not bother to branch out from this theme.)

But I think it might be fun to make up a bunch of titles and then try to work backward.  I’d also like to know what kind of stories other people would write from such a title–I’m sure we’d get a sea of really interesting and vastly different works. (Which a nerd like me would find endlessly amusing…)

There are definite title “trends” that I have observed.  There are the usual juvenile series that give you the name of the series/hero and… titles (Harry Potter AND the Sorcerer’s Stone, Percy Jackson AND the Lightning Thief, etc.)  Chick lit prominently features references to rings, bridesmaid dresses, and bad breakups.  Things like A Ring for the Road, or Stacey Oliver’s Secret, and so on.  It’s actually kind of interesting.

I, of course, had to start developing a prototype list standing in the store, because (let’s face it) this is who I am as a person.  Some of my ideas include:

  • Reading the Novel Backward: This could either be a mystery of some kind, or one of those “Person who leaves home at a young age returning to hometown and making peace with past” deals.
  • Just Out of Focus:  I see this as a potential coming-of-age novel, after the tradition of Stand By Me, etc.
  • The Birds Never Sing: Historical fiction.  I envision the Gilded Age.
  • The Tower to the East:  Fantasy.  Or Medieval historical fiction.  But probably fantasy
  • Turn Left at Decorah:  Sister (or brother) against-wishes road trip.  Relationships healed.  Bonding ensues.
  • 327 Sycamore:  I don’t know what this is about, but there are always books with house numbers.
  • The Magic of Dusk: Harry Potter-Twilight rip off-style hybrid.  Basically it will make a million dollars because those are two monster franchises right there…
  • Call Me After 30:  Chick lit, with a side of “grown-up-ing is hard.”

So, there you go. Writing a novel?  Need a title?  Look no further!  I’m sure all of these will be big winners for you!  (Also–any good ones to add to the list?)

5 thoughts on “A Story by Any Other Name…

    1. So do I. Things are in pretty covers for people like me. If it’s a bad sketch-style cover of humans (especially with outfits from the Worst of the 80’s) I’m not going to read it…

  1. I love this idea. I really enjoy reading book titles too, although I am also drawn to cover art. I never thought of making up random novel titles, though I love the ones that you have devised. I’m getting all kinds of interesting ideas about where your titles would go, story-wise!

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