Naming the Nameless

As indicated in previous posts, one of the things that is yet to be determined about the Work In Progress is the final title. Yes, Nameless is nameless.

I think the working title is a good one. Unfortunately I am not the only one who thinks so. A cursory look on Goodreads will show that there are novels called Nameless and series called Nameless and a positive plethora of books with Nameless somewhere in the title. And while I share P. G. Wodehouse’s “modest hope” of making it into the top hundred, it is difficult for people to gauge the excellencies of a book they never discover among the myriad others of that title.

Nameless, therefore, would seem to be out. I briefly considered Summer Lightning, but I feel that would be asking for trouble. And in any case, this is more of an autumnal novel. Autumn Lightning I also discarded, on the grounds that readers might reasonably expect there to be some lightning somewhere in the book, and be tetchy on finding there wasn’t.

Unnamed is also a possibility. There are some books called The Unnamed, but none, so far as I could see, called Unnamed. Unfortunately there is a reason for this: Unnamed is what they put in the title section of the metadata when the title hasn’t been announced yet. It’s roughly equivalent to titling your novel TBA. (Which is also used, along with Untitled, and anything else people can think of when they can’t think of a title.)

The main character is called Ghost, though that isn’t his name. (And now let’s all join in a rousing chorus of “A-Sitting on a Gate“.) Ghost would make a short punchy title – albeit one which might make readers reasonably expect a ghost – and there are no shortage of books with that title. Moving on!

That’s right! It’s a dragon AND it’s a ghost!

Ghost and the Three Men has not been used – no doubt due to its length – and the same is true of Ghost and the Queen of Souls. However, as well as their length they also convey a suggestion of series – a whole collection of Ghost and… books, rather like The Cat Who… books.

The Three Men has – perhaps surprisingly – not been taken (as far as I can tell), but that does rather sideline poor old Ghost. The Queen of Souls is also not taken, although Queen of Souls is the title of a novel that is, cough cough, for adults only.

Odd Man Out has been used before, but not for books in this genre – an important consideration. Unbeknownst is used by a few books, but none of prominence in the fantasy genre, so far as I can see. But does either evoke the right sort of feeling? And more importantly, does either evoke a desire to read the book?

There are a myriad of other possible titles I haven’t looked into, some of which are probably better than others. The Strangest Man in the World. Before the Last Leaf Falls. Nameseeker. Brotherless. An Amiant Soul. Unfoundling.

Of course, there are no doubt an equal myriad (how does one calculate the volume of a myriad?) of other titles which would work well, which I have not thought of – and more to the point, which dozens of others have not thought of before either.

So, dear readers, I turn to you for advice. If you have read the book, what do you think would be a good title – or not? And if you haven’t, which titles do you find pique your interest, and which don’t?

Disclaimer: if you suggest a title in the comment section which I end up using, you accept a) thanks and acknowledgements, and b) a free ebook, as adequate recompense for your brilliance, waiving the rights to my firstborn child, straw spun into gold, etc etc.

8 Replies to “Naming the Nameless”

  1. Well, of the options you have posited, I think ‘Before the last leaf falls’ has a certain ring to it, and kind of captures some of the essence of the book. Probably my favourite of what you have. Things like ‘Chasing Identity’ or ‘Searching for belonging’ sound more like non-fiction, counsilling textbooks!

  2. I like /Amiant Soul/ (no An). I find that attractive, maybe because amiant has connotations for me but is not part of my working vocabulary. I think it fits Ghost. Alternatively how about /Becoming Ghost/? The book explores his life in both directions so not totally wrong way round.

    1. Ta! I hadn’t thought of the both directions aspect. Interestingly, you are not the only person who has expressed a preference for the Amiant Soul option. It also has the benefit that no one has used it yet, probably because amiant isn’t the modern term any more (or at least not in English). Asbestos Soul wouldn’t have the same ring at all!

  3. Oh, the infinite joy that is naming a work of passion! I personally like “Queen of Souls” and “Before the Last Leaf Falls.”

    When I look for a book title, I aim for something that rolls off the tongue and conveys a poetic message. Having not read the book, this is the best advice I can give . . .

    1. Spot on as far as the facts go but alas, it may be misleading by implication. At least for anyone who’s ever read Three Men in a Boat.

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