Talking idly about books at book club the other night (shocking, I know!) I suddenly realised that the rules for naming fiction books were really quite simple.
1) Take a poetically evocative noun. Anything will do. 'Fire', 'blood', 'stone', 'night', 'heart', 'Guns', 'Sword', 'Knife', 'Ice', 'Dawn', 'Death', 'Life', 'Jewel', 'Roses', and so on.
2) Take another one. Go on, don't be shy.
3) Combine the two nouns together in some vaguely meaningful way.
Results (and none of these, as far as I'm aware, are real titles, apart from the first one):
Fire in the blood
Roses of the dawn
Sword of ice
And so on. You can be as creative as you want in putting the two nouns together, it doesn't really matter if you make up a new word. ('Nightwatch' or 'Dreamscape', for instance - two words used for Stephen King books). And the actual meaning of the title doesn't really matter - it's point is to give vague significance to what follows in the book, and to sound profound without actually being that way.
Generally speaking, one of the words that is used should be closely related to a verb or adjective, but this is certainly not true in all, or even a majority, of cases. Some examples: 'Riders in the Chariot', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Bloody Chamber'. It's a good way of combining a fact with a descriptive or active idea while not diverting too far from the purpose of the title, to imply what's coming and to entice the reader.
Then again, you really have to wonder where some writers get their titles from. A book of short stories by Brian Aldiss on my bookshelf is entitled 'A Tupolev Too Far'. Riiiiiiight....
(The significance of the title to this very post? Only because Maria of Orange Juice Snobbery suggested that I write about book titles in a recent post. She clearly knows my own mind better than I do. Drinking orange juice DOES make you more intelligent, ladies and gentlemen...!)
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