Brainstorming a brilliant title

A friend recently asked me, “When you find the right title, will it hit you over the head? Will you just know?”

I hope so, because I haven’t felt smacked by one yet. That’s why I’m turning to you: Wanna help brainstorm a title for my travel memoir?

You’ll first need to know what my book is about. (That’s easy for loyal readers of my travel blog.)

Some titles have automatic resonance, which means the reader understands automatically what the book is about. In other words, the title is self-explanatory. Others don’t acquire resonance until after you’ve read the book. I’ll use Eat, Pray, Love as an example because it’s the same genre as my book and many of you have probably read it. When I first picked up the book, I had no idea what the title meant. It wasn’t until after I read her story, and understood that each of those words represented a leg of her journey, that the title had meaning for me.

Why does this matter? Because thinking about titles through these prisms has helped me understand what might work for my book. As I’ve explained in previous posts, I’d like my subtitle to be something like, A woman’s solo journey through Africa. Since that explains the essence of my travel memoir, the main title can have either automatic or acquired resonance.

Several scenes in particular seem like they would lend themselves to a title with acquired resonance, including a few I described on my travel blog: Seeing a bright Milky Way in rural Cameroon; celebrating in that same Cameroonian village when I offer the gift of school; making a special delivery in Madagascar.

Some ideas in my brainstorming file with that don’t quite work:

  • Bush Taxi Adventures: A woman’s solo journey through Africa
  • Madame or Mademoiselle? (too complicated, readers of this blog decided)
  • In Search of Pizza (too light-hearted, though I like the idea of a funny title)
  • My Mozzie Net and Me
  • Bumpy Roads
  • Milky Way Meanderings
  • Dancing with Glowsticks
  • Please Send Pants
  • FuFu for Breakfast
  • African skies (too close to Under African Skies)
  • The Path Left by the Moon
  • Digesting Africa

You get the idea. Plenty of authors wait until they’ve written their entire book to come up with a title, and I may end up doing that. But for now, brainstorming is where it’s at.

So throw your ideas out there! Drop them in the comments section below. Even titles that aren’t perfect, like the ones listed above, help get my brain juices flowing.

What should I title my book?

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Morphing a good title into the perfect title

Thanks for all the feedback on my working title, Madame or Mademoiselle? A Woman’s Solo Journey Through Africa.

Here’s the consensus: Readers seemed to like the subtitle, A Woman’s Solo Journey Through Africa. But not everyone was satisfied with the first half of the title, Madame or Mademoiselle?

It’s too long, some critics said. It’s not easy to pronounce out loud. And it might discourage potential male readers from buying the book.

This was helpful criticism. More than anything, it reinforced my gut feeling, that the first half of the title is decent, but not perfect. And that’s what I’m looking for — the perfect title.

The theme behind the title, however, seemed to go over well. So I’m sticking with the theme, continuing to write and hoping a title will come to me as I put words on the page. If it doesn’t, I might just be back here asking y’all to participate in a brainstorming session.