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?)