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Author Topic: Quick title poll
wetwilly
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Possible titles for my cyberpunk novel, which is finished and ready to start submitting, except for the title. Which grabs your interest the most? Or do you hate them all? (This is entirely possible; I think the book is quite good, but I think I suck at titles).

1. A Vision of Steam
2. The Screaming Genesis of Life
3. Screaming Genesis

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Brooke18
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I like A Vision of Steam best but I'm not all that in to cyberpunk novels. I certainly couldn't help you with titles because I consider myself horrible at titles as well.
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extrinsic
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Vision somewhat has a possible cyberpunk connection. Life, I don't see it. Scream and steam don't for me connect to cyberpunk. Streamed media has a possible cyberpunk connotation. Genesis is a stretch for cyberpunk if an allusion to the Bible. However, Streamed Genesis [+/- : Vision and Life] might work from what's given.

Generally, avoidance of present participles, participle verbals, and gerunds in titles is a best practice. That pesky -ing ring rhyme and nondefiniteness of -ing words are problematic for many readers.

Note a common feature for titles is they are nouns and noun phrases, rarely verbs and verb phrases.

[ June 18, 2014, 07:09 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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The first one isn't bad. I've read that publishers make the decision on titles, anyway. And unless it's absolutely awful, I doubt it'll be the title that'll stop an editor from looking at the first page or so of the synopsis/chapter of your submission.

Ultimately, though, I would suggest something more distinctive. Successful novels often have their own lingo that's unique to the narrative in question.

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Grumpy old guy
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Well, personally, I don't like either of them. But hey, that's just me. My take from the synopsis would be either: Who's there? or Ascending Madness.

Having said that, I have no idea of what is and isn't acceptable in cyberpunk.

Phil.

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Robert Nowall
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Don't think much of any of them. Titles are tough.
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babooher
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I'm not a fan of any of them (sorry) but the first works best for me.
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wetwilly
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Yeah, the longer I let them sit, the more I hate all of them. The title is the only thing holding me back from sending it out. I hate titles.

In fact, all the parts other than writing the actual book are a pain.

I think "Who's There?" And "Ascending Madness" are both very vague. I don't say that as an insult (They're at least as good as my own ideas so far), but as a seed to maybe start a discussion of what a good title is and isn't.

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extrinsic
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A narrative's action begins with the first word of a title. Ideal titles imply what a narrative expresses about the human condition. Cyberpunk generally relates computer technology's influences to and on the human condition.

Cyber Got Punked, for example, a noun phrase of a noun and two verbs (passive voice though), could imply humans punk (prank in the provoke, verb, sense) computers and vice versa. "Punk," though, possesses other connotations. Punk Rock is garage band music become famous. Punk is a connotation of brat; also, inferior, nonsense, foolishness; poor health; decayed, dry, crumbly wood; a slow-burning brand used to ignite fuses; an incense stick.

[ June 18, 2014, 09:18 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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wetwilly
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Cyber got Punked is a fun title. Not for this book, but it's fun.
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MattLeo
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Might I suggest an approach? Kind of a prompt, if you will. What would the title of the story be, if written by an penny dreadful author in the world and time it is set in?

The appeal of steampunk is the milieu, right? So maybe the title should smack of that setting.

Come to think of it "Penny Dreadful" would be a pretty good steampunk title. The name of the protagonist, perhaps?

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wetwilly
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Excellent suggestion, MattLeo, although it's cyberpunk, not steampunk. With cyberpunk, the same principle applies, though: the setting is a huge part of it. What I want to evoke about the world of this novel is computer tech mixing with the organic world (the whole crux of cyberpunk).

So what would my protagonist call this book? My protagonist is kind of a mentally unbalanced dude (okay, very unbalanced), with a very cynical outlook on life and a very sarcastic sense of humor that really never gets turned off.

So I want to mix tech and with organic, biological words, and I want it to have sort of a cynical, humorous vibe. I've been thinking about this the last few days, and the word my mind keeps circling around as a tech word to use is "polychromatic." I like the sound of it, and it describes the computer world of my novel very accurately. So, incarnations of titles using "polychromatic":

Crashing Polychrome
Crashing in Polychrome
The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump
The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump in the Sky
Kissing Polychrome
Dreaming in Polychrome
Polychromatic Dreams (Eww. I hate this one.)

If my protagonist were naming this book, he would probably favor "The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump" or "The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump in the Sky." Of those two, I favor "The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump." I also kind of dig "Crashing in Polychrome."

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MattLeo
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Well, I can't believe I was so sloppy!

The one I like best of what you've listed is "Crashing in Polychrome", because it seems to me likely to do best the essential job of a title: to catch the eye of a reader who'll be interested.

I'm not an expert, what I think of when I think "Cyberpunk" is a technological dystopia that's a recognizable extension of present day, and which features an anti-hero. "Crashing in Polychrome" contains the familiar computer term "crash" but in an unfamiliar juxtaposition. It's the one title you've listed that if I were glancing down a list of titles I'd peg as "cyberpunk".

"Dump" of course is also a computer term, but familiar only to old, bearded men who could also tell you the section of the Unix manual to look in (eight of course). It does live on in "brain dump", but "dump" to most young 'uns would have more scatological than technological associations.

A Vision of Steam -- Sounds steampunk
The Screaming Genesis of Life, Screaming Genesis -- Sounds gothic.
Crashing Polychrome -- doesn't invoke "crashing" as a computer verb.
Crashing in Polychrome -- possibly
The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump -- Sounds like a caper story
The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump In the Sky -- same as above and too long.
Kissing Polychrome -- no cyberpunk evocation.
Dreaming in Polychrome -- possiblym, but only because it evokes "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
Polychromatic Dreams -- sounds like a new age self help book.
Crashing in Polychrome -- this is the one that sounds most cyberpunk to me.

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Mark
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I like "A Vision of Steam"
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JSchuler
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I'd just be careful with the word Polychrome as it does have a history of applying mainly to things like architecture and pottery, which aren't exactly topics of cyberpunk.

I would also get rid of the "ing"s and "in"s, and maybe just go with something along the lines of Polychrome Crash.

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ThemeWeaver
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How do the original 3 titles relate to the story? Its difficult to judge them without reference. If we knew what the story was about we could suggest fitting titles rather than throwing titles against the wall to see what sticks.

Having said that, I might read "A Vision of Steam".

Pulling from other suggestions how about "Chroma-Kiss"?

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wetwilly
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Well, I was really just trying to poll shelf appeal, find something that makes you pick up the book to look more closely if you're scanning the shelf and just see the title. "A Vision of Steam" relates thematically, Referring to something that presents itself and entices but has no substance. The Screaming Genesis ones really don't relate unless you really stretch it, so they've been rejected. I do like "The Screaming Genesis of Life" as a title for some other currently unwritten story, or maybe a chapter title or something. I'm going with "The Great Polychromatic Brain Dump."
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