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  • Writer's pictureSarah Davis

On Naming a Novel

The naming of my firstborn child took time, and I only carried her 9 months. My husband and I searched for a unique name, uncommon but stylish, that couldn't easily be made into a silly nickname. Websites, the Baby Book of Names, family, and friends presented suggestions. Once we had it, the perfect first name...we needed a middle name. That one didn't surface until a few weeks before stork time.

Choosing my novel's name took about as much time, even though it took longer for the publishing stork to deliver my book to the world. And my hubby didn't have as much say.

The title of a book is critical. It needs to capture attention. Be unique. Intriguing.

How does one come up with a title? For Inside Voices, this was a painstaking process. I wasn't giving birth to an unknown entity that I would love unconditionally. I was writing a story that lived in my head. I already knew the characters intimately. Listened to their conversations—held conversations with them. I didn't like all my characters. And half the time, I thought the writing should be thrown in the trash.

It seems to me now that the title should have been obvious. But while I was writing, one didn't come screaming into existence. So I brainstormed...and came up with three pages of options.

The Journey of Penny Osborn

Polar Bear Watch

The Art of Telepathy

Night of the Polar Bear

In Spirit

Rise of the Bear

In My Thoughts

Mental Identity

Penny Osborn, the Polar Bear and the Serial Killer

Penny for Your Thoughts

Inside Voices

Voices Inside

A Tale of Telepathic Twins

My husband despises the word "telepathy," so it was easy to cross out those options. I guess he had more say than I thought.

I circled my favorites and said them out loud while alone. Then I shared my top picks with the family, who each gave their vote and opinion. Offered varied options. No one liked Inside Voices at first. Or on the second, third, or fourth go around. But I held on to it. Left it alone and revisited the list from time to time. After a few weeks that included internet searches for books with similar titles, I made my selection.

It was an exciting process. Now that I had a name, my story was OFFICIAL.

Inside Voices.

A story that centers around telepathic identical twins. Doesn't say much about polar bears or serial killers, but then a title can't reveal every plot twist in so few words.

I polled a group of authors to find out how they went about selecting titles. The vast majority of those who responded selected "brainstorm alone." A few chose "brainstorm with others." The sole author/publisher of the group selected "let publisher decide."

I offered a fourth choice: the use of a random generator. There are many available on the internet, and I was curious if the other authors I polled ever used them. One author mentioned the use of a generator for band names and another for character names. No one used them for title suggestions, however. See I played around with a few for fun - one could definitely waste some time having fun if nothing else.

Ultimately, the book title should be eye-catching, fitting, unique. Right? I think Inside Voices works. I hope you do too!

Inside Voices would make an excellent holiday gift!

Check it out on Amazon at

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