When you’ve spent a long time precisely constructing a mythical world as a backdrop for your fantasy or science fiction novel, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of allowing the real world to intrude.
Popular fiction set in the real world is full of cultural references – what the characters say, how they say it, the slang terms they use, even their names, are all rooted in the culture and traditions of the real world. Your characters might talk about recent events in soapland or the escapades of the latest reality television victims. They might sing snatches of popular songs or recite poetry. They might refer to historical or fictional figures; they may even be named after one of them. This is fine, because your characters inhabit the real world, even though they are playing out an imaginary story within it.
I always find it a problem to come up with appropriate and relevant titles for my work. My imagination stalls when called upon to produce something pithy, apposite and meaningful. Some writers I know can’t put pen to paper or finger to keyboard without having first decided on the title. Personally, if it were possible to have a profusion of computer files and folders all labelled ‘Working Title’, I’d be there. Sensibly, this is no way to operate, so I’ve been thinking about where we can find inspiration when we’re stuck.
We can link the title to a scene in the story, the historical period it’s set in or that mysterious discovery the whole plot hinges on. The message of the story, the mood or the scenery can all be reflected in the title.