Sunday, 23 November 2008

Some Thoughts on Titles

Titles are always awkward, and I have to admit I've never been particularly good with them. Even so, some random thoughts on them:

  1. Good titles are an advertising tool. They position the piece/story/book within its field, and are one of the first parts of a book the reader comes into contact with. Make them nice and memorable then.
  2. The formula for an academic title seems to go Snappy Title/Bad Pun: Much Longer Boring Title. You know you've done it. Now stop it.
  3. Well meaning, or picky, or simply annoying editors will want to change your titles. Let them. It's their publication, after all, and it's better than them changing everything else.
  4. Short is good, but these days half the books out there seem to have one word titles. A few words is perfectly acceptable too.
  5. It's possible, if you're sufficiently stuck for ideas, to write stories from the title outwards. Come up with a great title, then write what has to go with it. If you're in a rut, coming up with great, and strange, titles can be a good way out.

2 comments:

Andi said...

I've always been much better at academic titles than mainstream ones. I titled several of my colleages' theses in graduate school in fact! That was a lot of fun; now if only I could pair those snappy words to my own work!

stu said...

I've actually had a couple of things re-titled by editors recently, which shows how good I am at coming up with them.