Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Crime and Punishment
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
The Master and Margarita
The Old Man and the Sea
The Prince and the Pauper
The Sound and the Fury
War and Peace

What do all these book titles have in common? They're titles that are made up of two nouns and a conjunction. We'll call them towofers. The two nouns can represent anything, but usually they describe something about two characters, or the protagonist and the conflict, or two central aspects of the plot.

Jane Austen was fond of twofers, as were many classic authors. J.K. Rowling has used them exclusively for her series, and you'd be hard-pressed to walk through a romance section at the bookstore and not see a twofer. Category romance publishers have gone a little overboard with their dramatic twofer titles, but I can't deny that when I see something titled The Stinkin' Rich Widowed Tycoon of Titillating Ethnic Origins and The Virginal Gorgeous Easily-Blackmailed Governess, I get the idea of what the story's about immediately.

I tend not to use twofers, as I like short (preferably one-word) titles, but they come in handy when I'm at a complete loss for a title to slap on the pitch. I'm putting together a proposal for Valentin's story, for example, and so far I haven't worked up a decent title. Right now it's called Sun and the Swan Prince; Sun for the name of my female protagonist, and the Swan Prince for Valentin, the Kyn lord who nearly lost an arm in Darkyn book two. It won't be the final title, but it's a good place holder and my editor will get it (I thought about going with Swan's Sun, but it sounds too much like a TV dinner.)

Your assignment today: if you had to create a twofer title for your WIP or your favorite novel, what would it be? Tell us in comments.


  1. I agree, I prefer succinct titles. My WIP is currently titled "Ellisande"(the main character's name). But, thinking of a twofer title does make me think about the opposing elements in this story. If pressed...I suppose a twofer title might be "Fate's Child and the City of Destiny." But that sounds pretentious and overdone, even for me.

    Just thinking about this makes me want to write more and more! Thanks Lynn!

  2. I'm with you P, shorter titles work best. I suck at 'and' titles; I can't think any for my own books... nope. Nothing coming to mind...

  3. The way the writing's going at the moment?
    "Read It and Weep".

  4. My place holder write now on a incomplete story: Fire and Ashes. Eh. :)

  5. Grief and Coffee is the first title that comes to mind for my WIP.

  6. Hmmm.
    Source and Exorcist?
    The Ditz and the Dullahan?
    Ms.Zorro and the Zombie?

    Sorry, I'm a trifle giddy this morning...

  7. Hmm. I'm working on "Beasts and Angels" at the moment.

  8. I've been using the title Waiting for Normal and I think I'm going to stick with it.

    It's good to have you back and hear your dad is doing well.

  9. Anonymous7:29 AM

    Ohh! Neat. I prefer succinct titles, too, and thanks to movies I really hate The Noun titles, but Noun And Noun is gaining on it (Blood and Chocolate, anyone? Gags). My current WIP is called A Moment's Indiscretion, which fit when I came up with it but not so much now. I'm considering Dragonlight or The Rose Tattoo instead. I like titles. And really, I sat here for almost ten minutes trying to think of a twofer. Dragonlight AND The Rose Tattoo? :-D

  10. Anonymous7:52 AM

    Actually, my current MindWalker WIP is a kind of twofer: Of the Heart and Mind. It's the only twofer I've used, thus far, too.

    I don't have title preferences, really. It just has to be right, for me.

  11. If I had to make it a twofer, probably Love and Larceny. This is a really interesting excercise, the next time I need a working title (or am cudgeling my brain for ideas) I will remember the twofer.

    BTW, every writer needs to read The Master and Margarita! Author persecuted by supernatural forces. Hilarious.

  12. My WIPs tend to have, as a working title, the main character's name. "Lizzie," "Abigail," now..."Fiona's Dream." Let's see... twofers: "Lizzie and the Highland Laird" (possibility there), "Abigail and the Oaf" (nah), "Fiona and Thomas Solve a Mystery" (nope).

  13. Anonymous9:12 AM

    i like two fers... although I can't think of any that would describe the two current WIPs... of course, i've already titled them so that might make it harder.

    I've used two fers a couple of times, though. one was whipped cream and handcuffs and another was silk scarves and seduction

    gee, i bet it's pretty clear what those are about...

  14. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Well, I suppose:

    The Raven and the Shadow, because in my WIP, the main characters are... The Raven and the Shadow. :)

    As a rule though, I think I tend to go for single nouns as titles. Like: "Answers". Or my longer work, "Decisions".

  15. For some reason I always get stuck with one or two word titles and never think about twofers, but I love them!

    I’m currently working on a historical fiction based on the life of Countess Elizabeth B├íthory. Was originally going to call it Evil Incarnate, but now you’ve got me thinking. My twofer would be, The Damsel and the Devil.

  16. Anonymous10:33 AM

    For one of my WIP the most descriptive twofer title I can come up with is "Regan and Her Long-Lost Kleptomaniac Twin" but for now I'll stick with my working title of "Thief"

  17. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Dark Gods and Wild Mountain Music. And I really like Twofers (including Blood and Chocolate) so there!

  18. I'm currently (still) working on turning my ebook into a novel length work and trying to think of a way to keep its title as it is (I happen to like its title). But if I were going for a twofer, it could be The Hell Hound and the Cat's Meow or perhaps Gracie and the Chosen Path? I probably could do better with some caffeine and chocolate, but I'm trying to cut back. Sigh.

  19. The only one I can come up with is Love and the Empire and I'm quite sure I'm not going to use it.

    I think it sounds pretty bad.

    I'm glad you're back, and that your father's better now!

  20. Hmm. These sound a little cheesy once put down on, well, screen. But they are also very descriptive of the books.

    Steel and Gold.
    The Hunter and The Prey.
    The Inner Eye and The Outer Eye.
    Of Wormholes and Spaceships.
    Fear and Valor.
    The Prince and The Rebel's Son.
    The Mind's Eye and The Fire Within.
    King and Dagger.

  21. I've actually been thinking of using a twofer for my current work in progress. Maybe "Through Diamonds and Doorways." That's probably kind of confusing until after you've read the book, though.

  22. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Stopgap and Bacardi

    It's actually a chapter title, but it's Donatien's life in a nutshell.

    Glad you're back!

    eliza tucker

  23. Anonymous1:48 PM

    My working title is All There Is, but as a twofer, I'd probably have to go with The Husband and the Feminist.
    So telling, in fact, that I probably don't even have to write the book anymore!

  24. I have a towofer: Kings and Rebels. Others won't work as well, 'Germans and Romans' is a lot less catchy than A Land Unconquered, lol.

  25. My working title is either "The Nick Testament" or "A New Nick"

    As a two-fer... maybe College and Dishonesty?

  26. *waves at Gabriele*

    I don't have a WIP atm (apparently my well needs refilling, but what with the drought and the hosepipe ban, yanno...).

    Er, where was I? *turns off tap guiltily*

    I like most of the titles I've thought up for my Romans, but I don't think any are twofers. *checks* No, not one of them, lol. I suppose I could change The Virtues of the Soldier to The Virtues and the Soldier, but I think that would be a very different book :D.

    One book could be Aquilla and the Disguised Prince, if an Emperor's son could be described as a prince.

  27. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Hmm...the title for my work in progress...let me think. It's called Jivtor right now, but that's only a placeholder. I guess I'd call it...Lost Truths and Magics.

    That sounds kinda pretentious, but that's the best ___ and ___ title I can come up with.


  28. Anonymous6:45 PM

    I don't have any twofers.

    If I changed the titles, now...

    The Past and the Present Actually, I have two that could be described that way, very different novels, though.

    The Hospital Janitor and the Doctor-Killer

    The Alien Teenager and the Reporter That Stalks Her A bit of YA SF there. Wow, that really sums up the gist of the main conflict.

    Deceit and Honor The original title on this one is Double Cross.

    Johnny and the Shadaren My current WIP, a fantasy story. The original title is Test of Time.

    Fear and Discovery might work for one I'm in the middle of writing.

    This is fun.

  29. The only one I can think of is Faith and the Empire but I'm not quite sure how to use it.


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