If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, August 1, 2011


I love book titles. My all-time favorite, If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him..., by Sharyn McCrumb says it all. After reading the book, I knew the title was apt. McCrumb has a knack for titling. Another of her books, The PMS Outlaws, brings visions to mind making me smile. I appreciate the art of titling because a good title attracts readers and provides a taste of the content. But the best titles also give the reader a notion of the tone of the book.

McCrumb’s title, If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him..., suggests the following:

• Murder is probably involved
• The murderer may be the protagonist
• The male victim is in all probability a despicable character
• The protagonist has regrets
• The victim did something to deserve the protagonist’s ire
• There is a timing element in which the protagonist realized her error
• Her procrastination may have allowed the victim to do something terrible
• The protagonist has judged and sentenced the man
• The death sentence may have been carried out but,
• Murdering the man sooner would have been better.

The title suggests many notions to the reader before buying the book. The reader is intrigued to the point of wanting to buy it to find out what the man did to create such emotion. But not only does the title induce finding out about the man, it also gives us a taste of the protagonist’s attitude about the situation. That attitude is the tone of the book.

McCrumb allows her main character to justify murder, setting the reader up before the first page is turned. In the case of some people, murder may just be the perfect solution. It’s a naughty concept. We like it! (And maybe the thought has occurred to us too.)

Tone is a nebulous concept. It is the line between the lines that reveal the authors’ feelings and attitudes about their own characters. In the McCrumb example, the tone reveals the author feels that her main character is a good person who possesses good judgment with a bit of naiveté, but who also has enough guts to get the job done once she’s assessed the situation. (The reader makes the assumption the protagonist is a woman, but isn’t sure.) We like her. Her humor’s on the black side. She’s retrospective and regretful about what she hasn’t done, which may have prevented something worse, but would have taken action had she been quicker on the uptake. So much like ourselves…

So often authors want a short and glib title with great alliteration, something catchy that they think will attract the reader, which isn’t a bad objective, and sometimes those titles do the job. But giving the reader all that McCrumb’s title gives is much better. Think verbs describing what happens, think nouns in terms of content and think about the tone of your book, the intentions of the main character. It’s a hard task.

Have you gone round in circles over your title? What’s your favorite title?

I thought I had mine, but maybe…


Warren Bull said...

Sharyn MCCrumb is graet at titles. I like The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter,

Kara Cerise said...

Great example! I think it is very difficult to create a title that provides content, tone and is memorable. One of my favorite classic titles is Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None."

E. B. Davis said...

I liked a lot of Christie's titles. "And Then There Were None" is terrific, but then I also liked "Sparkling Cyanide."

Maryn Sinclair said...

Titles can make or break a book. I had a real problem with one recently, which never happened to me before. A title usually pops into my head, and there it stays. Same with character names. Not this time. Makes me worried about the book.

Betsy Bitner said...

Whenever I come across a good title I wonder "Why didn't I think of that?" Because I'm bad at thinking up titles, that's why. I agree that a good one will make me pick up a book. Your examples are great, E.B. and I also like "A Bad Day For Sorry" by Sophie Littlefield. Gives you a little taste of the protag's mindset.

E. B. Davis said...

I worry about my title all the time since it has the word "fear" in it. There are a lot of titles containing that word, none exactly like mine, but it also has to convey the right tone so that the reader isn't ticked off when the book doesn't meet her expectations based on the title. A short title can be catchy but may also create false expectations.