Tuesday, October 9, 2018

CRAFT: A Title Is A Promise (and a Hook)! by Lynne Marie

A title is a promise. What ever you decide to title your manuscript, it must deliver the "promise" by the end of the story. Titles also serve to hook the reader into reading the book, and often specifically target the market in some way.

Let's take a look at some titles (random ones that are due back at the library today) and see if they deliver the promise and hook the reader. You too can put thought into your title and the job it does to set up the story.

EXERCISE: After reading these blurbs, choose 5-10 titles of your own manuscripts. Brainstorm and make a list of 1-5 other options for those manuscripts. Was your original title the best one? If not, retitle with one that sets the reader up for a promising experience.

IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS! by Jody Jensen Shaffer. Illustrated by Claire
Messer. Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster, 2018.

With out even beginning to read, this book serves to hook the target reader -- those who are about to experience their first day of school!

And this book definitely delivers! Busy Bus does experience its first day of school which cleverly mirrors much of a child's concerns on his/her first day. Promise kept!

GREEN PANTS by Kenneth Kraegel.
Candlewick Press, 2017.

Again, just from the cover featuring a boy wearing green pants, you know this book will keep its promise and there will be lots of illustrations as well as perhaps a conflict, involving green pants.

The fact that the title subtly infers that there will be a problem with these green pants works as a hook to get the reader to wonder what is it about these green pants, and to read the book.  Promise kept!

ALBIE NEWTON by Josh Funk. Illustrated by Ester Garay.
Sterling Children's Books, 2018.

This book promises to be about a boy, Albie Newton, and with the subtle references to Albert Einstein (who created the theory of relativity) and Issac Newton (who discovered the laws of motion), we know that he will be a whiz kid and that will likely land him in some trouble! And it sure does. Promise kept!

The Story of Rosa Bonheur and her Painting Menagerie
by Maryann Macdonald
Abrams, 2018

This book purported to be about Rosa and her animals, and it certainly was. While decidedly a biography of the fascinating life and art of Rose Bonheur, her love for animals was a thread woven throughout. Another promise, well-kept!

TURTLE POND by James Gladstone
Pictures by Karen Reczuch
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2018

As the title suggests, and the publisher states, "in this book, a boy and his family visit the local public gardens throughout the year to see the turtles." The reader will learn much about turtles and their pond environment. Again, no disappointment here. Promise kept!

Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Valerie Boivin
Kids Can Press, 2018

This hints at the promise of an exploration with Jane (Jacobs) and surely delivers. When Jane moves to NYC she discovers many interesting facts about her new home and becomes the urban thinker she is know for being. Promise kept!

Expectations play an important part in whether a reader is satisfied. The first impression a reader gets about the story is from the title/cover or spine. Does your title keep a promise?


PLEASE follow this blog so you don't miss any tidbit of information and please feel free to leave any comment or question you may have. I will do my bes to answer all! 

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. 

To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.


  1. I never thought of a title as a promise, but this all makes a lot of sense! It's definitely something to think about when considering titles of future manuscripts.

  2. Thanks for stopping by My Word Playground, @Rebecca Gomez! I appreciate your thoughts! Can't wait to see what's next from you! Best, Lynne Marie

  3. Ever since taking your Picture Book boot camp I look at PBs differently - starting with the title! I look at a book and read it with that idea in my mind - Does the book hold up to the promise of its title? Thank you for making me aware of this in my writing and my reading! Brilliant!

    1. So excited to see you here over at My Word Playground! I am so happy that this concept stuck with you and makes you think on this point! Best, Lynne Marie

  4. Thanks for the reminder, Lynne. Titles have been on my mind more than ever. Twist and turn and whirl the written words to come up with something smashing!