Coming up with a good title of the book or story you’re writing is so important to its success, which is why I’m doing a few posts about it. Last week I talked about titles that scream the genre, and this week I’m going to talk about titles that create a sense of mystery.

Formulas for Catchy Titles, #2: the Open Loop! #good title of the book #coming up with a title

The copywriter term for this is an “open loop.” The title has a missing piece, and the agent, editor, or book lover wants to read more to attain closure or solve the mystery.

Internet advertising uses the open loop all the time… because it works! People see the headline, “Lose weight using this one weird trick,” and they can’t help but wonder what that trick is.

“Open loop” titles are a natural for mysteries, suspense, and thrillers, but they can work for several other genres as well.

Here are some examples of “open loop” titles.


The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown.

This title makes me think: wait, is this a symbol I’m familiar with, or a symbol that no living human has ever seen? How did it get lost? Why does it matter?


The Silent Sister, Diane Chamberlain.

Why is she silent? What is she hiding? What does she know?


The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky.

Lots of avid readers are wallflowers! Of course they want to find out what the perks are.


What She Left Behind, Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Oh my God, what was it? Her baby? Her contact lens solution? What?


Secrets of a Charmed Life, Susan Meissner.

Who doesn’t want a charmed life? Tell me those secrets!


The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield.

Okay, back up. What were the first twelve tales? What’s the big deal about the thirteenth one? I have a lot of questions. (Great book, by the way!)


Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella.

What did she do?


The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien.

What things?!


Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng.

Tell me, damn it. (I don’t know anything about this book, but it was named one of the best books of the year by practically everybody.)

Some titles have a strong air of mystery, while others are just a bit coy. It’s all a matter of degree.

Does your title ask a question that people want to answer? Do you think your WIP could benefit from a title like that? Let me know in the comments!

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