Creating a title for any type of book is difficult. Even classics like "The Great Gatsby" and "Pride and Prejudice" underwent changes from the titles suggested by the authors. In a short amount of space, you are tasked with representing your book's story, themes and tone. Titling an autobiography, then, is even more complicated, as you must do so in such a way that also represents your life as it is written. By looking at other memoirs and their titles, as well as defining a tone of your own, you can more successfully brainstorm ideas for your life story's title.
Things You'll Need
Read over your completed story and determine the tone. For example, it may be a memoir grounded in humorous anecdotes and self-deprecating humor, or it may be a serious study of the human condition based on your own tale of survival and success against the odds. The title of your story must reflect its tone.
Study the titles of life stories that are like your own and determine where the titles came from. For example, David Sedaris's "Me Talk Pretty One Day" takes its title from a story in which he struggles to learn another language, while David Rakoff's "Half Empty" refers to a story in which he debates the merits of optimism.
List words that evoke the tone of your book, particularly if they are significant places or events in the story. Some of these words may be appropriate one-word titles, or may be combined with an adjective or adverb.
Write a list of 20 different potential titles and leave it alone for at least 24 hours. As an author, you may be too close to the material to objectively think about the title; separating yourself from the task gives your mind time to rest.
Look at the list again and narrow it down as best you can. Add any new titles you may have thought of, then erase the ones you have decided against. Repeat this process until your list shrinks to less than five titles; then ask for advice from people familiar with your work.
- The Sydney Morning Herald: What It Takes to Title a Book
- Rants & Ramblings on Life as a Literary Agent: How to Title Your Book
- "Me Talk Pretty One Day"; David Sedaris; 2000
- "Half Empty"; David Rakoff; 2010
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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