Thursday, February 3, 2011

So How 'Bout the Wily Writing Beast, the Story Title?

As writers, we all face the hairy eyeball of the title beast and live to tell the tale. But just how do we pick the perfect title for our new story?

There are two methods that lead to the same conclusion:

1) Title your story and then write.

2) Let your story write its own title.

The first option led to writer's block for me, which is never a good thing. With option number one, I found myself staring at a blinking cursor until my seat went numb from sitting too long. However, I realize what doesn't for me may well be the golden key for someone else.

I subscribe to the second option. I pick my titles midway through my first draft or after the completion of the first draft. The title is the cherry on the sundae for me. I find it cathartic to use the backspace key and replace "Untitled" with something more witty and polished.

Ask yourself three questions when writing your title.

How does it relate to my story?

Be content relevant. If you're writing about zebras, you wouldn't name your tale: The Story of the Angry Writing Desk. Unless, there is an angry writing desk in your story. *wink*

Would it catch your eye in a bookstore?

Will your readers find it interesting enough to pick up? Make your title engaging. Use active verbs and gripping images to draw in your readers.

Has my title been published before?

Search the web to see how many hits for your potential title pop up. If there are a lot of them, scrap that title and go with another. If there is only one, you might still consider it. If you do pull up a piece of writing with your title, is it in the same genre as yours? If it's in the same genre, you might want to pick another title so your work can truly stand out as original.

If you follow these three suggestions, you will definitely tame the wily title beast.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

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