Looking to title your up-and-coming YA novel (especially if it’s fantasy or science fiction)? Say no more! I have a foolproof formula for coming up with captivating, marketable, and *totally original* YA book titles.
Behold, the definitive YA book title generator!!!
Warning: snarkiness ahead.
Title Your YA Novel in 3 Easy Steps
So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately there seems to be a trend in the young adult fiction community when it comes to book titles. And trends are nothing if not foolproof, am I right?
Thus, as you are contemplating how to best name your next YA novel (particularly if it is in the fantasy genre), consider this surefire method for commercial success by titling your novel in the following format:
Step 1: Choose a noun that has something to do with monarchy, war, or magic
These include “queen,” “king,” “throne,” “court,” “day,” and “curse.” This will usually encapsulate the central protagonist or conflict of your YA fantasy novel. Choose wisely.
Step 1b: Add the word “of”
Step 2: Choose a noun that represents the elements, destruction, or dichotomy
These are words such as “suns,” “thorns,” “fire,” “darkness,” or “ashes.” Or if you really want to go ham, whip out the building materials: “glass,” “iron,” “steel,” or “stone.”
Step 2b: Add the word “and”
Sometimes this step is optional, if Noun of Noun encapsulates the whole of your book’s essence. But if you feel like maybe it might be missing something, continue on to Step 3.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2, but with a contrasting noun of lesser or equal significance
The greater the juxtaposition between your two fantasy nouns, the better. Favorable pairings may include: Blood and Ashes, Thorns and Starlight, Light and Sorrow, or Fire and Ravens.
Oh, I forgot to mention about ravens. Ravens is like the ace up your sleeve. Crows are also a suitable alternative. Basically, when in doubt, just add a black-feathered bird. For maximum impact, make sure there’s more than one.
Et voila! You have the next great YA fantasy novel! You may also refer to this handy YA Book Title Generator chart for more ideas:
Okay, that’s cute and all, but how do I really title my YA novel?
Yes, yes, I know. Everything you just read was basically a giant eye roll. Although, the popularity of this title structure (for YA fantasy especially) is nothing to sneeze at. But will it last? Probably not.
However, what does last is a book title that actually fits your book.
You see, people are petty. (No offense, people. I’m one, too.) They do judge books by their covers. And they also judge books by their titles. So it’s important to choose one that not only represents your book, but also catches your potential reader’s attention.
Okay, don’t overthink this. After all, I’m pretty sure that when a book actually gets published, there are lengthy discussions between author and editor about what the title should be. (Which is probably why we’re stuck with the X of X and X trend right now, to be honest.)
But until that point, it does help to have something at the top of the document other than “WIP.”
So what are the things you should consider when titling your book?
1. The Protagonist
This type of title structure is especially poignant if your central character has a gigantic role to play in the story, i.e., the Chosen One type. (Though please, don’t default to Chosen One. It’s so overused.) Examples include Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Frankenstein.
Sometimes just the name of protagonist themselves is unique enough to catch the reader’s attention. Examples: Artemis Fowl, Maximum Ride, and Skulduggery Pleasant. (Seriously, how do people come up with these?!)
Generally speaking, the character’s name should be unique if you’re going to make it the book’s title. No offense, but Bill Smith or Jane Doe probably isn’t going to spark any curiosity. Unless… it’s ironic in some way.
Another variation on this is to name the book after the main character’s title… or what they represent to the story at large. Examples of this include Red Queen, The Martian, and The Alchemist.
2. The Central Conflict or Antagonist
Conflict propels a story forward, which means it ought to be interesting. Ergo, a title that encapsulates a book’s central conflict (or antagonist) ought to be interesting, too. The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, for examples. (Though to be fair, those are the names of the series.)
Other examples include Defy the Stars, The Hunger Games, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I feel like I could probably come up with better ones but eh, those will suffice.
3. The Magic System
I feel like this one is probably the most common, because there are literally so many ways you can take a piece of the magic system from your story and incorporate it into the title. Of course, it helps if that piece is a particularly important element.
Examples here include The Guilded Ones (magical people), A Darker Shade of Magic (acknowledges the magic system), Mistborn (magic system), or A Sorcery of Thorns (element of the magic system).
4. The Setting
This is another one that is so incredibly common it hardly needs an explanation. Since in fantasy the setting often plays a vital role in the story, it makes sense that it ought to have attention drawn to it.
Some good examples of this are the Earthsea series, The Night Circus, The Hazel Wood, The Thousandth Floor, Vampire Academy… the list goes on and on!
5. A Symbolic Word or Phrase
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny the power of the Twilight series’ book titles. Honestly, I miss this trend: single word, conceptual, loosely tied to the contents of the book but still packed with symbolism. (I also miss minimalist book covers.)
If there’s a central symbol that’s integral to your book (it doesn’t have to be obvious,) titling your book after it isn’t a bad idea in the slightest.
Other examples include: Paper Towns, the Shiver series, and Six of Crows (hey look, a variation on the common theme!)
Good Luck Titling Your Novel!
No matter how you go about it, finding a title for your novel (YA, fantasy, or otherwise) should be a fun experience. Some writers think of their titles before they ever stop writing, others leave it untitled until the very end. You don’t have to force it if it doesn’t feel right, but it’s never a bad idea to brainstorm, especially when you’re not sure what it should be!
Out of curiosity, what would your novel’s title be according to my YA Book Title generator? Leave it in the comments!
All gifs courtesy of Giphy.com