title of the book two

The title of the first book “The Powers of the Earth” is a dual reference.

On the one hand, it is a phrase that Thomas Jefferson used in the introduction of the Declaration of Independence to mean “the various governments that rule mankind”.

On the other hand, if refers to gravity, the force that holds all of us down to Earth (and the force that, in the novel, is defeated by the use of Ponzie’s anti-gravity device).

As the book grew from an intended 350 pages to its eventual 930+ pages, it became clear that I had to split it into two novels. Conveniently, there is a nice split that works thematically, plot-wise, etc.

But – what to call the second novel?

I strongly like the idea of choosing another phrase from either the introduction or the preamble of the Declaration of Independence (and, in fact, if there are more novels in the series – and there likely will be! – I like the idea of continuing this theme.

So, what phrase to use?

These all stood out for me:

  • political bands
  • [ separate and ] equal station
  • laws of nature
  • causes of separation
  • all men are created equal
  • unalienable rights
  • life [ and ] liberty
  • sufferable evils
  • abuses and usurpations
  • absolute despotism
  • right and duty
  • system of government
  • injuries and usurpations
  • absolute tyranny

A few of them seem a bit too clunky, too melodramatic, or thematically not quite right.

…but several others do seem decent.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Which on this list do you prefer?

This entry was posted in The Craft of Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to title of the book two

  1. Jenny says:

    My favorite is “Separate and Equal Station” – I think “Causes of Separation” might be slightly thematically better suited for your v.2, but the clause one/clause two setup for a book one/book two set trumps that.

  2. Max Lybbert says:

    I can’t say that I have a favorite, but I like “causes of separation,” “unalienable rights,” and “right and duty.”

  3. eddie says:

    All of those are terrible book titles.

    “Equal Station” isn’t bad. Leave out the bracketed part.

    “Equal Stations” is better. Yes, I know it would be a misquote. The allusion is more important than the quotation.

    I assume the final trilogy will be “Divine Providence”, “Lives and Fortunes”, and “Sacred Honor”. A bit melodramatic perhaps, but that’s appropriate for a series conclusion, and the evocation is second to none. Not very googleable, though. Maybe you could play off the riff a bit so that the allusion is intact but the text is unique.

    • Travis J I Corcoran says:

      > All of those are terrible book titles.

      Um…thanks for the honesty!

      [ … I guess? ]

      • eddie says:

        I should point out that “Powers of the Earth” is a great book title.

        None of the others make me think “huh, I wonder what this book is about… it sounds like it could be interesting… I guess I should buy a copy or at least go read the Amazon review to find out what it’s about”.

        In addition to being clunky, they all sound like right-wing political screeds. And while that’s kind of true, that’s not what you want it to sound like. Even to right-wingers. They get enough of that in their mailbox already.

  4. eddie says:

    Also, if you don’t use it otherwise, “Tales from the Equal Station” would be good for the short story anthology.

  5. chris says:

    causes of separation works best thematically, though pursuit of happiness works too

  6. Dan says:

    I’m with Eddie here. Powers of the Earth is a great title, very dramatic. The rest of the list items are very bland – the best of them, imo, is Causes of Separation (mostly for thematic reasons), but it comes with little or no recognition value to the average reader, lacks the implication of excitement, etc. Contra you & Jenny, I don’t see any value in keeping with the Declaration at the expense of really grabbing the imagination of the prospective customer.

  7. nzc says:

    I’m with Eddie/Dan. I think “Equal Stations” has merit but I’m not sure it’s the best you could do. I don’t have any good suggestions at the moment (after typing and deleting a bunch that I found wanting).

  8. raptros-v76 says:

    The Forces of the Moon!
    -Keeps the X of the Y form.
    -Power is force times velocity (I think).
    -Has triple ref:
    –force of moon on earth
    –the human force applied to the moon
    –physics force applied to [part of] the moon

  9. randomscrub says:

    None of them are really compelling to me. Causes of Separation seems the best of a bland lot. I agree with eddie on Book1’s title.

  10. John Anderson` says:

    If I have to choose from your list, I would take [Life and Liberty], because in the end they keep/save the first and achieve the second. But if you are not wedded to the idea of choosing a phrase from the DoI, I do like the suggested [Forces of the Moon].

    They say libertarianism happens to people, and I think if you stay away from the heavy-handed cribbing from the DoI, you’ll pull in the sci-fi curious with [Powers of the Earth] and [Forces of the Moon] titles, and the story/theme will create the libertarian (or if you’re really lucky, the anarcho-capitalist).

    Would [The Moon is a Harsh Mistress] have done nearly as well if the title had been [Lunar Revolution: 2076] or some other politically-themed title? Probably not.

    Also, I would be more than happy to take a shot at proofing from a PDF, if that offer is still open.


  11. lelnet says:

    “Causes of Seperation” is the clear preference among those on your list that I’d even consider reccomending. I’d also think that “abuses and usurpations” or “unalienable rights” would work. The others, for one reason or another, seem actively counterproductive to me.

    But I do also have to chime in to agree that none of them are really on the same level as “Powers of the Earth”. Yes, like it, they’re all from the Declaration of Independence. No, none of them are nearly as evocative, for those who haven’t actually _read_ any of your story (that is, those to whom a title must be most attractive, in order to be said to be doing its job), of the kind of story they might be about to buy.

  12. Travis J I Corcoran says:

    Thank you, all, for your feedback, even if I didn’t really enjoy hearing it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    For the past few weeks I’ve been brainstorming what happens after the events of this book, and I’ve got a future history that really excites me. Massive drama, space opera that’s even cooler (and more kinetic) than the climax of this book, etc.

    If I continue with my current idea to use phrases from the introduction and preamble of the US Declaration of Independence, the four titles I had in mind were these:

    1. The Powers of the Earth (first 450 pages: introduce AG and Big Government)
    2. Causes of Separation (second 450 pages: resolution of the Rebellion)
    3. Right and Duty (sequel part 1: a brush-fire war with Earth)
    4. Absolute Tyranny (sequel part 2: something APOCALYPTICALLY BAD happens)

    So, just how bad do people think that “Causes of Separation” is?

    Pretty much everyone but me and Jennifer thinks all the titles suck, and I can’t count her vote for much, because we already know that she’s irrationally biased / skilled at putting up with my stupid ideas. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So: average grade of the entire themed pack of titles: C, maybe?

    But if we’re forced to pick from that dog’s breakfast of titles, how do folks rank the choices therein?

    Reading through the comments, the results seem to be:

    title votes
    separate and equal station 4
    causes of separation 5
    unalienable rights 1
    right and duty 1
    life and liberty 2
    divine providence 1
    lives and fortunes 1
    sacred honor 1
    • eddie says:

      I think you’re attached to a great idea which doesn’t actually work.

      Take a step back and come at it from another angle.

      Consider some book titles you’ve really liked (try not to pick only Heinlein) and consider what qualities they have in common.

      Reflect on the themes of your book (again) and contemplate a variety of other related artifacts, not just the Declaration. Here’s some seeds to get you started: the memorial to Samuel Whittemore; transcripts of the Apollo radio chatter – not just the giant_leap but routine workaday stuff; The Theory of Moral Sentiments; something your grandfather told you once.

      Stir idly until some good connections get made.

  13. d-day says:

    I think this is one of those “kill your darlings” instances. Or at least maim them a little bit. I really like the idea of echoing the declaration, but I really dislike it in execution.

    This is a really crowded marketplace. Some readers not going to give you a chance beyond reading the title before they make their buying decisions. I think the most important factor to consider when choosing a book title isn’t thematic resonance, but what is going to make people picked the book up without being actively deceived as to what’s inside. To take a cue from the (very profitable) romance section of publishing: publishers know what titles sell (Duke, Earl, rake, sin, scandal) and use them to such degree that it’s really difficult to tell the books apart. Readers complain about it, but they continue to buy them.

    I think the title ought to be as grabby as possible without misleading potential readers about what’s inside. I don’t find the suggested titles to be very grabby. The title that’s going to pull readers in is one that has some blank that the readers have to fill in, or that they expect to be filled in from the book. Like: Powers of the Earth โ€“ good title and there’s a blank to be filled in because the cover/genre indicate that we’re not actually on earth. And it’s often erratic enough to give some indication of what’s inside – big battles!

    The rest of the titles on this list don’t seem to have that quality. They’re too flat and descriptive.

    I do like the idea. I think to use it though you really need to tweak the phrasing to impart some drama into them. Keep in mind, Jefferson was writing to make this seem like the most natural, logical, dispassionate description of events to justify revolution. Your particular PR needs different.

  14. d-day says:

    not “often erratic” —


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *