Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Title Taboo

Fantasy is very much getting its time in the YA spotlight right now.

Like everything, book trends vary. With Twilight (published in 2005) we had the wave of the moody vampires; then The Hunger Games (2008) and Divergent (2011) sparked the dystopia craze. Now -- probably with Throne of Glass (2012), the Grisha trilogy (2012) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) largely to blame -- it's fantasy's turn.

I am, of course, well up for this. Admittedly I'm not very good at reading new books (of the three cited fantasy examples, I've only read books #1 and #2 in the Throne of Glass series), but fantasy is my genre of choice.

However, the sheer volume of YA fantasy has led to similarity of the worst kind: repetition.

I'm still debating the title for my WIP fantasy novel, so titles are very much on my mind. And I've been noticing some fantasy title tropes.

Observe ...


[Heck, how many "shadow queen" books are there?!]


Blood, prince, thorns, fire, throne, glass, sword, snow, ash, shadow, smoke, bone. They have become buzzwords for fantasy.

I guess the question is: is this a problem? Is this trope bad? Not necessarily; these aren't intrinsically "bad" titles, in fact, I think some of them are brilliant and effective. But the truth is that they've become so ubiquitous that for me, at least, they've lost their power. When it comes to naming my own book, I'll be steering clear of these words. They have become title taboo.


  1. I started smirking to myself as I scrolled through those covers. So much blood and thorns and swords and princes! At least, upon reading such titles, potential readers are instantly aware of the genre. XD

    Hmm, I don't think I've ever used those words in my own titles before... Oh! Wait! I lied--I wrote a novella entitled "The Glass Girl." Aaaand another novella called "Blood Rose." Heheh. ^_^

    Do you perchance have any inkling what you'll be naming your novel?

    1. Ha, I'm glad -- that was my intention! XD Yes, you're right, it does help for working out what the heck a book is!

      Fairytale retellings? Or high fantasy? We're all guilty (well. I've only finished one novella and one novel. The novella was called Snow White. So.)

      Yes, I do, but I can't type it or it'll be official and I still want wriggle-room! XD

  2. This is so true!! I write fantasy as well, and I've been really struggling to come up with a title for my current WIP. I wonder what makes these words so attractive to fantasy writers...there are thousands more that could be applicable!

    1. I have a working title, but I'm worried it's too ... fantasy! D: I really like titles where you pick up the book and don't know what it's going to be. The cover normally tells you, though, anyway.

  3. When you put it that way! It's so much more obvious when you list them like this.

    1. I know! It is actually glaring when you think about it.

  4. My, my we do like our blood and princes over a nice fire to reduces them to swords and ashes. :/

    I honestly didn't notice this. Well, with the exception of princes and swords. Those are key fantasy elements there. You must have a prince (preferably an exiled one, the crowd loves an underdog) and swords (what else do you quest with?).

    Titles escape me. But I do agree that something's got to stop this because everything sounds the same now. Especially the "shadows" bit in the title. Those kind of titles annoy me. Shadows? Shadows are so vague. TELL ME SOMETHING! And sometimes it feels like they threw in the word to add a little extra. . . what? I am at a loss for why the word "shadow" is in any of the titles unless shadows actually play a part in the plot (which is possible, I don't think I've read half of these).

    1. It's true though ... don't forget to throw some thorns and snow in there.

      Ha! I stand against princes! THERE ARE NO PRINCES! ONLY QUEENS! FEMALE EMPOWERMENT! (My queen isn't married so ... yeah. Zero princes.) Also swords, we actually haven't had any on our quests (and by we I mean the characters, with me hovering in the background like an overprotective mum). Corrie has a knife.

      I know YOU like swords and exiled princes though ~cough~ BRAYDEN ~cough cough~

      Hahahaha, you're right, though! I hadn't thought of that, but yeah! Midnight has no shadow. Nor does the wind! It doesn't mean anything at all! The only one of the shadow ones I've read is The Shadow of the Wind, but there was no wind involved, and it had no shadow.

    2. No princes? What?! Okay, but a lone queen does sound pretty epic. I cant' say much though since there's no royalty amongst the Oddball foursome. And the only one who carries any real weapons is Peril.

      CORRIE HAS A KNIFE?! Does she keep it sheathed?

      I'm sorry. I think you have a cold. Did you say Brayden? ;) (Down, Eelistelle. It was only a joke.)

      Okay, so I recently read "The Shadow Throne" by Jennifer A. Nielson (quite good by of way). And I could make argument that the "shadow" bit fit into the storyline metaphorically. But I'd be pushing it. The book deserves a better title, in my small opinion.

    3. She would be pretty epic but sadly she's a bit psycho. So, who's in change at the Border etc? What does Peril carry? WHAT ABOUT PRACKLES?? (Oddball should be more careful.)

      Hahaha OK, so, she uses a kitchen knife to fight a maid to escape when she's gonna be killed. Later she swaps it for a proper knife. I never thought about sheathes but yeah, I guess. She only uses it once though, with said maid, so she never acto uses her proper knife (in this book at least!) She's not really a knife sorta gal, to be honest.

      Eelistelle? I thought it was Eelistle? I'm sure it was Eelistle in the stories you posted ... hmm. Eelistelle. He seems to have turned French.

      Last in the Ascendance trilogy, I assume? That is a rubbish title, in my small opinion. Like, REALLY? Every. Single. Book. Is called something "throne". The two most popular fantasy series out there right now are Game of Thrones and Throne of Glass. Thrones are seriously off limits, in my mind.

    4. At the Border? I don't know. There's a king of Bal. There's a king of the Odish side. Such stuff. The little village towns have mayors. . .Peril carries anything she can get her hands on. She's a bit of a weapons fanatic (but she is Shamdram and most Shamdrams are). Oddball runs from prackles or keeps to the trees.

      But then what is the proper knife for? In case another maid tries to attack her (gotta watch out for those maids, dear, they've got treacherous little hearts).

      I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HIS NAME! Every time I spell it, it's different. I even noticed that in one of my posts I switched from first person from a previous post to third person. Eelistle? Eelistlle? Whatever. As long as it's pronounced ee- lis- tell, then I'm good. You have any ideas?

      Yes! (Have you read that trilogy?) Yeah. . . thrones. I guess it goes along with the whole "prince" thing? But for people who create their own worlds and cultures, we fantasy writers need to up the originality on titles.

    5. I see. Do we ever meet these kings? OK, but I worry about Oddball and the prackles </3

      A precaution. She almost has to use it at one point, lucky that Freddie is around! (The mage.) (But yes, can't be too careful when it comes to maids.)

      "As long as it's pronounced ee- lis- tell, then I'm good" .... !! I've been pronouncing it Ee-liss-ell! I though the 't' was silent, as in "whistle"! Oh dear. The curses of virtual friendship ....

      No, not yet! I will though. Soon. (It's currently sitting third on my new series priority list, after Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Cinder.) But yes, you'd think fantasy writers of all people could do a little better! I'd not thought of it like that, but ha, you're right!


Thanks for commenting! :)