Tricky Titles

It seems like almost every workshop I have been in, someone comments “Ignore the title, I just put something there. I am horrible at coming up with titles.” I will admit, I am one of those. However, I think it is important why we have such a difficult time coming up with the perfect title to our creations.

As complicated as it is to come up with the right title for your story, they are incredibly important. It is one of the first things people know about your story/book/whatever. They can capture the attention of potential readers, just as a cover would. For example, I am working on a piece right now that has been renamed for my own purposes. Here are the transformations thus far:

Title 1: When Joseph Came to Town

Title 2: The Secret Lagoon

It is pretty obvious that these two titles are incredibly different. If I didn’t say that they were for the same story, you would have no idea. They convey two very different feels for what the story is about. Now, I’m still not satisfied with the second title, but it feels closer to what I think it should be.

Needless to say, I’m no expert on titles. I am one of those “Ignore the title, I’m bad at titles” people. Regardless, I am going to list a couple of things that I try to keep in mind when coming up with my own titles. Maybe something will click with you and it can help create an appropriate title for that one story that is still “Untitled.”

  • Keep it on the shorter end of things. I more take this from my experiences in journalism and social media. A shorter title means less space it takes up in Tweets and is easier to remember. However, the Harry Potter series doesn’t have short titles. I wouldn’t say this is a hard and fast rule, but something I like to keep in mind.
  • It has to tell us something about the story. For example, The Scarlet Letter highlights an important aspect of the novel and a pivotal plot point. Twilight focuses on a smaller element that hints towards the truth of the Cullens. In the Harry Potter series, it points to a main mystery or necessary factor in the main conflict.
  • If the title comes up in the story itself, that is usually a huge warning flag to the reader. Whether that is a good or a bad thing, it is something to keep in mind that it typically draws the reader to notice it.

While I think these tips might be useful to help you come up with a great title. But these aren’t the only tips out there. Do you have any? Comment with your own tips!

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