Thursday, June 25, 2009

Insert Title Here

The title is an important part of a story. It’s the first thing a reader will see and creates a point of reference for your tale. I don’t think there’s an exact science to creating the title, but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

The most obvious title is one that describes what the story is about. “Matt’s Workday” would hopefully involve a character named Matt in a work setting (assuming we’re using this method). Similar methods include titling the story after a character or setting.

Some titles that seem cool to me are ones that are part of a sentence from the story. Think “The Catcher In The Rye.” Okay, technically that might be a reference to the protagonist, but when I read it years ago, I thought it was interesting how the title suddenly made sense towards the end of the novel. The only caution I’d throw out is to not choose something completely unrelated to the story as a whole. Just because you came up with an impressive metaphor on page seven doesn’t mean you should flash it at the top of the story in bold print.

Another approach is to reference another literary work. One of the fun things you can do with this is to reference something in hopes of connecting with others who also read the work. It’s like you’ve put a secret message into your story that only like-minded people will understand! Unfortunately, you may quote or paraphrase such an archaic passage in the referenced work that no one catches your allusion. Then again, perhaps you enjoy creating titles that are an esoteric enigma in order to flaunt your sublime cleverness to yourself.

Regardless of the method used for creating your title, it should at least be interesting and somewhat unique (if possible). The goal is to create one that sticks with the reader without annoying the reader. I don’t read the title of most stories and think, “My, what a wonderful title,” but if I come across a bad one, I cringe.

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