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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Logic Behind a Good Suspense Title

When your titles mix feelings
 
Have you ever wondered where authors get their titles? With big publishing houses, titles are often chosen by the editorial staff, and are designed to reflect that publisher, author and genre.
Indie authors, that is those who publish independently, have a bit more freedom, but that doesn't always preclude an awesome title. 
But for suspense stories, titles have got to grab and speak the genre. One way to do that, is for the author to consider mixing two opposite elements. 
Think of Tess Gerritson's The Bone Garden. While bones offer up a taste of pain and death, gardens suggest pleasant retreats, beautiful flowers, rich produce. The two incompatible elements make for a mystery, a suggestion of things hidden. A suspense story.
My book, Deadly Trust, also suggests that. Deadly is self explanatory, and so is trust. Juxtaposing these two words creates a question, which suggests suspense. Even my latest Love Inspired Historical, also a suspense, has a title that asks a similar question. Undercover Sheriff (not yet released) asks the obvious question, why is the sheriff undercover? We all know the answer; because he is solving a crime. But the word undercover means a person is a mystery, hidden, while the sheriff is an outward authority figure, one is plain view. 
The title Hidden in Plain Sight reveals a number of fiction and non fiction books that not only suggest two opposites, but even my next point.

When words have different meanings

A number of books with the above title have Amish themes. The word plain means both obvious, and simple, unadorned. 
UnderCovers can also suggest both sensual themes and pretending to be someone you're not. This book has both, so the single worded title does double duty. 

What titles can you think of that suggest a mix of meanings or feelings? What title do you like best?

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