Thursday, October 29, 2015

Memorable Titles

Writers are bedeviled by different aspects of the writing biz. For some, it's developing a gripping plot; for others it's creating sympathetic characters. And for still others, it's the title. Most of us have working titles on our computers, but the day always comes when we have to come up with something memorable, catchy and relevant. Hemingway, no slouch in this department, thought Fitzgerald the best at creating these short verbal tags.

When I began writing the Anita Ray series, I decided to use a consistent format for the title. I would use the name of a deity that reflected some of the issues in the story, and in a prepositional phrase if possible. Coming up with a tag for the first book, Under the Eye of Kali, gave me the idea, and I've enjoyed playing around with deities and phrases since then.

The idea for this post came from a series of messages on DorothyL. A number of posters mentioned titles that led them to purchase the book. That got me thinking about memorable titles--the ones I actually remember as humorous, intriguing, or well crafted. This is a sample of those as well as the ones mentioned on DorothyL. I don't dissect them here because that seems too much like analyzing a joke. Instead I offer a little humor on what has turned into a delightful and warm and sunny Thursday.

If you have a favorite title, I hope you'll add it in the comments.

Below are some fun titles, and below that is a link for more on titles.

The Case of the Blood-stained Egg Cosy, by James Anderson

Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson

Let the Dog Drive, by David Bowman

Cast, in Order of Disappearance, by Simon Brett

Killer Hair, by Ellen Byerrum

The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain.

The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesteron

The Moving Toyshop, by Edmund Crispin

Skeleton in Search of a Cupboard, by E.X. Ferrars

Smallbone Deceased, by Michael Gilbert

The Man with a Load of Mischief, by Martha Grimes

Death and the Pregnant Virgin, by S.T. Haymon

Carrying Albert Home: The Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator, by Homer Hickam.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carre

If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him, by Sharyn McCrumb

Bimbos of the Death Sun, by Sharyn McCrumb

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks

I Still Miss My Man (But My Aim Is Getting Better), by Sarah Shankman

Leave a comment with a memorable title. And my thanks to DorothyL.


  1. The first thing I thought of when I read your first paragraph was "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", by Oliver Sacks

    1. Yes , Kathleen, I love that title. And I loved Dr. Sacks--his articles were always fascinating.

  2. I'll add A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield and the title of a Sacks essay, "An Anthropologist on Mars," which was about Temple Grandin.


    1. Those are great additions, Jeanne. Some people just seem to have the knack. Thanks for adding those.

  3. I love these titles. Titles are important for drawing readers. It's the first thing that draws me. Here's one of my own titles that I still like:
    THE TRUTH SLEUTH. It's got a double meaning because Kim Reynolds, the main character in the mystery series, is a reference librarian.

    1. Good choice, Jacquie. I've enjoyed several of your Kim Reynolds stories.

  4. I still miss my man (but my aim is getting better). HYSTERICAL!

    I read Cast, in order of disappearance (and everything else Simon Brett). Great post!

    1. Thanks, Judy. I haven't read Simon Brett in a while but he's still one of my favorites.

  5. Another favorite title is THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE by Oscar Hujelos. Loved that book.

  6. Cute and interesting!
    Good luck and God's Blessings