1920s, Books, writing


As many of you know, the working title for my current MS is Magic & Mayhem. I love the alliteration, the way it gives a sense of being a historical novel (tying in with books such as Sense & Sensibility or Pride & Prejudice, for example), and that it conveys the idea of what’s happening in the book without giving anything away. Perfect title, right?

Except. All of the sudden lately, I’ve been seeing a flood of blank & blank titles all over the place. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s looking like I’m following a trend (see my other post where I mention my annoyance with many of the similarities between the Crawley sisters and my protagonist’s family – I swear, I wrote mine before I ever even heard of Downton Abbey!). Not just because of hipster tendencies, but because I don’t want to give a false impression of my book. As a story, it doesn’t fit neatly into any genre or follow any current trends. So I would hate to lure somebody in by the title, only to have them irritated when the story reads so differently from other similarly-titled works.

So the question becomes, do I hope that by the time I have this edited, edited again, proofread, formatted, and finally published, that the blank & blank titles are less popular? Except I’m shooting for a late spring, early summer publication, even with all the work that needs to be done, so that really isn’t a lot of time. Do I hope that people will be amused by the subtle Jane Austen/Elizabeth Gaskell reference and miss out on the other, more popular new titles that follow that path?

Or do I go for a different title altogether? I had been playing around with a few ideas before settling on Magic & Mayhem:

Murder of a Manservant (excuse me while I fall asleep)

Of Magic and Men (except that it’s equally about men and women, and “Magic and Humankind” really sounds dull)

A Magical Mystery (booooring!)

Magical Mayhem (not bad. But not tremendously riveting)

In thinking about it just recently, as well as perusing old Victorian and Regency novel titles, I’ve come up with a few more:

Murder at Little Oaks (sounds like Nancy Drew – now, Nancy meets magic WOULD be a fun idea to explore sometime, but that’s not this story)

The Portland Papers (since much of the story’s plot revolves around needing to recover stolen papers, this one isn’t too bad. I don’t like that it doesn’t give any hint of the magic, though.)

The Apprentice (possible, since my protagonist is a magic apprentice. Still kind of dullsville, though.)

Such Stuff as Dreams (not bad – it is Shakespeare, after all, who also provided the title for one of my short stories, so there’s some continuity there. It is a little vague, though.)

Sigh. Maybe I should just hire someone to title my books for me …

Quick! Grace! Write out a title for Mummy’s book!

10 thoughts on “Titles”

  1. Hmm. "Magic & Mayhem" is a snazzy title, but right off the bat I got this feeling I'd heard it before, and somewhat recently, at that. I keep think Patricia C. Wrede, or somebody like that. Googling it, apparently it's an older computer game; and a search on Amazon turns up a few hits, but not the one I'm thinking of. But anyway.Of your other options, I like "The Portland Papers" and "Such Stuff as Dreams" (any of the ones with "Murder" in it sound like Agatha Christie to me). You can always stick the 'magic' aspect into the cover illustration, if it's not in the title itself. But I'll have to read the story first before I can give you a definite opinion of which title fits!

  2. I personally like "Magic and Mayhem" a lot and I think if it fits your story best, you should keep it :) I admit it's annoying when you find titles and characters so similar to your own, though!

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