Subtitles are also hard

Okay, given that I’m definitely splitting SILVER CIRCLE in two, probably with at least a moderate cliffhanger at the end of the first book, I need to come up with subtitles. These are necessary partly to warn readers that Part 1 may end in a cliffhanger. I think basically all readers everywhere understand that if a book says Title: Part 1, that indicates that the book is pretty likely to end in the middle somewhere, with a resolution to follow in Part 2. This implicit warning helps prevent reader frustration.

For that purpose, “Part 1” and “Part 2” serve as well as any other subtitle. But that’s not very … what’s the word … evocative. Artistic. It seems to me that subtitles are better if they’re real subtitles. But what should the subtitles actually be?

Please vote:

First Option

SILVER CIRCLE 1: Before the Storm

SILVER CIRCLE 2: Shattered Skies


Second Option

SILVER CIRCLE 1: Conflagration

SILVER CIRCLE 2: Restoration or Consecration or Reclamation or something like that. Or the reverse: Detonation or something like that. It’s not like the entire second book will be peaceful, after all. It will contain the plot climax, and then probably lots of falling action.


Third Option:



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25 thoughts on “Subtitles are also hard”

  1. Just don’t use Gathering Storm. I prefer option 1, then 3. Not 2, though something like The Fire, and The Flood might work.

  2. Conflagration/Consecration is a nice pair. Not sure about about option three, since naming something ‘The Calm” would make me think not much happens in it. Option one, eh, it’s okay. “Shattered Skies” is good, although “Before the Storm” is a little generic.

    I like Pete’s idea of The Fire/The Flood, although no idea if that’s appropriate to the halves.

  3. Putting in another vote for “Conflagration” / “Consecration;” I like the brevity and the alliteration, especially paired with the sibilants in “Silver Circle.”

    Though “Conflagration” has a very very different mood to me than “The Calm”; I’d expect one to be extremely dramatic with a lot of emotional and literal explosions, and the other quietly forboding with a creeping tension. “Consecration” ties in nicely with the religious aspect of the mythology but does set up some expectations for how I would, uh, expect to see the overarching issues handled.

  4. Estara Swanberg

    I vote for third option ^^ – 2nd option reminds me too much of C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series titles.

  5. No idea if this title works for Part 1, but it does go with the witchy themes I am anticipating. How about:

    Conjuration / Consecration

  6. Subtitles are hard. In option 1, the suggested titles for the two books don’t seem parallel to me.
    Agreeing with some of the previous comments, the “Storm” options seems pretty generic to me at this point.
    For option 2, I would personally avoid having two options that start with “Con-” as that just makes it hard to remember which one I’m talking about.

  7. I love that the answers are all over the place. Not very helpful!

    For my two cents, I kind of like #3 but agree “The Calm” sounds like not much happens. I like the simplicity and parallelism of the two titles, though.

    For option #1, I like “Before the Storm” for part 1, but am not crazy about the part 2 option. Again, going for symmetry, how about something preposition-object, like “After it Rages,” “During the Storm,” “While it Shatters” …

  8. I agree with Kathryn M.

    #1 is poetic, but the two subtitles don’t quite match.

    #2 sounds good with Silver Circle, but I know I would genuinely struggle to keep the names straight, especially if book 2 has the peak of the action but the “calmer” name. I have a little trouble remembering the subtitles for Invictus, and those are even less similar! (What happens is I remember Crisis, but then I can’t remember the other word other than it’s something else that starts with C, and the very beginning of the first book does seem like a crisis…)

    #3 would be my winner. It may not be as poetic as the others, but it would be easy to remember, and sounds like it accurately advertises where the split between the two books is.

  9. AARGH. Why are titles so hard? I do think it’s both funny and frustrating that opinions are so scattered!

    I will give this some (more) thought.

  10. Breaking Storm and Shattered Skies


    I think it needs to go

    Modifier Noun

    in both.

  11. I don’t think that starting with the same letters is helpful for remembering, as Kate says.
    I think it’s more important that the basic ideas in the words are linked, and lead one naturally to feel that the first contains the build-up of tensipn, and the second the big conflict resolution and aftermath.
    Before the storm clearly signals the building up of tension towards the coming storm, but also that it doesn’t contain the big storm / final resolution yet.
    Yes, by itself Before the Storm may be rather generic, but as a subtitle for Silver Circle it clearly denotes its place in the Silver Circle duo-book: this is tge build-up, don’t expect the denouement in this book. As such it should be helpful in avoiding readers being disappointed by a cliffhangerish breaking point.

    Shattered skies ties in well to the storm announced in the first title, clearly signalling that this book is where the (figurative) storm happens and the results of said storm become clear.
    In my opinion, that clarity of meaning and mirroring of symbology is more important than that the shape of the phrase should be an exact copy. If the phrase-shape is an exact copy but the meaning isn’t crystal clear and obviously tied to the storyline of 1= building tension – 2= big finale and aftermath, it makes it harder to remember.
    Breaking Storm sounds more as if the storm will break in the first part, and then the second part is dealing with the aftermath.
    Maybe you could use Gathering storm for the first book instead, if the big fight doesn’t happen in the first part, and you really want the echoing phrase-shapes?

  12. Elaine T’s Teen here:
    I strongly advise against any titles that include the word storm. It always looks like a cheap way of saying ‘excitement’ and I’ve never seen it pay off. No, wait- I saw it pay off as the tile of chapter one of a novel originally published as a serial in 1874. For the curious, I’ll give the title: “The Great Storm of 1865.” It only worked there because the book opens on an air balloon tossed about in said tempestuous bad weather.
    Besides, between Stormlight archives (yawwn), Mercedes Lackey, and assorted others, it has been appallingly overused. Unless it’s like book five of six, where a storm of some kind has been well established; and even that one was rather boring.
    Also, I can’t think of a more generic way to say ‘brewing trouble’ than to use storm in a title, and that makes it forgettable, and less likely to be picked up.
    If you really want to keep to a skyward themes entailed by storm, however, might I suggest:
    Distant Thunder & Howling Tempest, or perhaps simply Gale, Tempest, and whatever the third will be?

    Otherwise, knowing nothing about the book at all: I might offer Silver Circle: Knots, Tangle, and Thread.

  13. Well, Teen, I do have one advantage, which is that this is not book one of a series. Nobody’s going to decide to buy or not buy this book because of the title. However, I know Gathering Storm and so on are pretty cliched. The phrase I was thinking of was actually “sparrows scattering before the storm,” and I was trying to get that feeling, but in fewer words. Not sure whether that will be possible, but that’s the image I’d ideally like to evoke.

  14. I really like “Sparrows scattering before the storm”, and I don’t think it’s possible to evoke this image in fewer words (though maybe someone will prove me wrong). “Before the Storm”, on its own, is generic and doesn’t generate any images in my head. Could you put the full wording on the cover without it being part of the official title for bibliographic purposes? Official title would be “Silver Circle, Part 1″… But then you would need a matching phrase for Part 2.

  15. I feel the same as Hanneke: I quite like “Shattered Skies”—it feels very aftermath-y to me, like the worst possible thing has happened and now we have to deal with it. “Gathering Storm” might be clichéd, but as a subtitle paired with Shattered Skies I think it makes very clear what we can expect from both books.

    I would use “Sparrows Scattering” if there weren’t too much alliteration with Silver Circle. It’s a cool image. (And implies to me that our characters are all split up at the worst possible time.) “Finches Absconding”? “Wrens Hightailing it Out of Here”? Sorry, not helping!

    Silver Circle: Put to Flight? That would make me very anxious about our characters! Especially if I knew book 2 was “Shattered Skies.”

  16. Alas, “Sparrows Roost Before the Storm” is so much more accurate. Usually deep in thickets, near the ground.

  17. I like Sparrows scattering!
    And it allitterates nicely with Shattered skies, with the twice two starting S-es.

  18. “The Gathering Storm” is the title of the 12th Wheel of Time book, so i’d recommend against that purely to preserve your searchability on Amazon etc.

    “Sparrows Scatter” / “Shattered Skies” ? Though “Silver Circle: Sparrows Scatter” is kind of a mouthful, at eight syllables, and so is “Silver Circle: Shattered Skies,” at 7. But using a two-word subtitle still follows the theme you’ve established throughout the Black Dog books of a two-word title, which is maybe more important than syllable count.

  19. I note that opinions regarding whether alliteration is good or bad ALSO VARY.

    Pete, this once, I don’t care what birds actually do before storms. BUT, if the storm is sudden enough, possibly the sparrows would not have time to roost. The way we get birds on islands, after all, is generally they’re driven out to those islands by a storm. Finches probably didn’t deliberately head for the Galapagos either.

  20. I like option 2 best – though I will say that I really like Silver Circle, and some of the subtitles sound like a completely different title for a different series.

    (I cannot wait for Silver Circle!)

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