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Old 09-26-2017, 03:55 PM   #1
Nabeel
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Title dilemma

Hallo Everyone,

I'm very proud to say that I have finished a full first draft of my first novel. And, obviously, this is where my problems begin!

The work is a campus novel, with a very strong satirical element, and using a thriller format.

First issue: I'm really not sure about the title. I have four (or perhaps three-and-a-half) possibilities. Could fellow writers please consider the following and give advice? They're listed simply in the order that I thought of them.

1. A Strange Death at the University
2. UNI: A Study of a Death at a Campus
3. The Improbable Remains: A Study of a Death at a University
4. The Improbable Remains

(If I was really skilled I'd attach one of those 'spoiler' things here, but I'm just not that competent. However, I'm sure you'll all recognise that the 'improbable remains' is a reference back to good old Sherlock Holmes: 'when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth'.)

all advice welcome!

N.
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Old 09-26-2017, 04:08 PM   #2
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Did you say a first draft?
I like all 4 of your titles.

Oh I saw your other post, I forgot to ask... are your 4 readers your friends or actual beta readers?

If friends, I would love to just see the first chapter. PM me if you want an unbiased opinion.
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nabeel View Post

1. A Strange Death at the University
2. UNI: A Study of a Death at a Campus
3. The Improbable Remains: A Study of a Death at a University
4. The Improbable Remains
The last one is the best. The other three sound like true-crime titles, particularly the two that use the word "study."
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:52 PM   #4
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I agree with the comments so far, particularly Catlady's comment that some of the titles sound like crime (though, to me, not especially true crime) novels. In fact "Death on Campus" would have me looking for Christie's name on the cover.

I find it curious that "The Improbable Remains" doesn't sound as much like a crime novel title as just "Improbable Remains". Anyway, I very much like "The Improbable Remains", it's nicely ambiguous.
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Old 09-27-2017, 06:13 AM   #5
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Improbable Remains.

Satirical element.

A cover that depicts a crime, with a certain element of humor ON the cover.

Perfect.

No more need be said.

Simple.

The End.
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Old 10-01-2017, 07:48 AM   #6
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#4 is exciting and is your best option for hopefully making some people curious enough to strongly consider buying your book.
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
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#4 is exciting and is your best option for hopefully making some people curious enough to strongly consider buying your book.
Agreed. The other 3 wouldn't even get a look from me.

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Old 10-06-2017, 09:44 PM   #8
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Improbable Remains wouldn't get a second look for me. I'd think, "What the heck does that mean?" Then I'd move onto something else.

I vote for A Strange Death at the University.

A Strange Death might be even better. It would also fit on the cover in large font like so many thrillers.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:37 PM   #9
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Improbable Remains wouldn't get a second look for me. I'd think, "What the heck does that mean?" Then I'd move onto something else.

I vote for A Strange Death at the University.

A Strange Death might be even better. It would also fit on the cover in large font like so many thrillers.
Well, granted...it would only be instantly recognizable to Sherlock Holmes readers/fans. It needs to keep the "The" in front of it, for that instant recognition.


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Old 10-07-2017, 12:57 AM   #10
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Well, granted...it would only be instantly recognizable to Sherlock Holmes readers/fans. It needs to keep the "The" in front of it, for that instant recognition.
Hitch
It doesn't need the Sherlock Holmes recognition; that's just one layer. I read it initially as "improbable" being an adjective modifying the noun "remains," which made me think the book was about some kind of quirky murder case.
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Old 10-07-2017, 07:15 AM   #11
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If you can't come up with a title, then you should just throw away your novel. ---- JUST JOKING!

'Improbable Remains,' with the proper cover art showing that it's a mystery and with a brief humorous blurb on the cover, will work just fine.

Get the cover ready so I can buy the damn thing!

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 10-07-2017 at 09:35 AM. Reason: edited slightly for clarification
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
It doesn't need the Sherlock Holmes recognition; that's just one layer. I read it initially as "improbable" being an adjective modifying the noun "remains," which made me think the book was about some kind of quirky murder case.
Yes, of course--any devotee of murder mysteries can hardly ignore "remains," right? That is precisely what is clever about it--it plays both ways. Improbable remains, as in a body in a highly improbable state or place or manner, etc.; or The improbable remains, as in, "once you've eliminated the impossible..."

Either, to me, is intriguing for a mystery reader, especially one of cozies or Golden Age mysteries (the former Improbable Remains) and Sherlock fans for the latter. {shrug}. I do think that the definitive article, (so to speak) "The" needs to be included, but that's just me.

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Old 10-07-2017, 09:25 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Lima Bean;3589833]Improbable Remains wouldn't get a second look for me. I'd think, "What the heck does that mean?"
[/QU'OTE]
That's the whole point.
Gets you to pick up the book and find out
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Old 10-08-2017, 12:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Yes, of course--any devotee of murder mysteries can hardly ignore "remains," right? That is precisely what is clever about it--it plays both ways. Improbable remains, as in a body in a highly improbable state or place or manner, etc.; or The improbable remains, as in, "once you've eliminated the impossible..."

Either, to me, is intriguing for a mystery reader, especially one of cozies or Golden Age mysteries (the former Improbable Remains) and Sherlock fans for the latter. {shrug}. I do think that the definitive article, (so to speak) "The" needs to be included, but that's just me.

Hitch
I absolutely agree that "The" needs to be included.
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Old 10-08-2017, 05:16 AM   #15
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Dear All,

Thank you to everyone who has contributed advice. This is the third group that I've asked, and all three are astonishingly consistent: 'The Improbable Remains' wins. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I think I've got to listen.

I do like the ambiguity in the phrase: is 'remains' a verb or a noun? And I have noticed that recently detective novels seem to using more and more allusive, vague titles. In fact, there have been a couple I've read where at the end of the book I'm still thinking 'but what did that title mean?'.

I'm still picking away at editing. I'd like to finish this month, but I'm not sure.

improbable wishes,

N.
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