Thursday, April 22, 2010

How To Write A Mystery - What's The Most Critical Part?

Have you given a lot of thought to your title? I hope so because the title may sell you book and once it's on the shelves, get people to buy you book. Here's an interesting statistic for you. In 2008 approximately 300,000 books will be published. Once the book is on the self, a buyer will take approximately two seconds to decide to buy it! That's why the title is so important.

So, how do you come up with a good title for your mystery novel? First of all, don't rush. Make a list of titles you like and keep adding to it. I've always found that the right title will jump out at me and I know immediately that's the correct one. I guess you could say the book picks its own title. Short titles are best, but generally harder formulate. Hang in there, it will come.

Which comes first, the title or the book? I've done it both ways. I came up with the title for the book I'm shopping right now and then wrote the book. I really only had a vague idea what it was going to be about. I tried for almost 10 years to sell my dark mystery. The original title was, "Dark Deception" and I loved it. I kept querying and mailing and biting my nails and was ready to give up but, I didn't. Instead I got out my Barrett's Quotations and found a quotation I liked and that fit the novel. I changed the title to "The Worse Evil," queried ONE MORE TIME and sold the book.

Titles can't be copyright so you really don't have to worry that you're using someone's title or vice versa. If you want to title your book, "Gone with the Wind," you can, but why would you want to? You'll only confused readers and they will not be happy with you. If you look at the bookshelves in your local bookstore or library, you will see that most of titles are short, one or two words. Why? Attention span. Remember, you're trying to catch the eye of a prospective buyer and you only have two seconds. One by One will capture a reader's attention quicker than, A Woman Risks Death to Save her friends in the Wilds of Southern Minnesota. Of course that's a long silly title, but you get the idea. Both titles describe the same book. Which one would you pick off the shelf?

So, you've found the best descriptive short title for your book. You found an agent, she sold the book and...the publisher immediately changes the title. Don't despair, sometimes they do keep your title and even if they don't you've done your job. You caught the attention of the agent/editor and publisher. You sold your book.

Carlene Rae Dater has been a writer of both fiction and non-fiction for over 25 years and has been published in a variety of genres. Writing, reading and talking about mysteries is her passion. Visit her mystery blog at: or view her published books at:
Carlene Rae Dater - EzineArticles Expert Author 


Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

The Daring Novelist said...

I don't start with the title, but often when a good title comes to me, that's the thing that catapults an idea into a story.

And even though publishers will change the title later, more and more authors these days are self-publishing ebooks. Success there seems to depend on a really good title and cover. (Although from what I've seen, if the title or cover is TOO good - that is not standard - it doesn't work as well as more generic titles and images.)

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