Friday, April 30, 2010
Title Me Titular
Write your story, sure, and use a working title. That's what I do. But when you're finished and you polish up your story, sand it, put on a fine coat of stain, and get it ready to send out, find a great TITLE.
For instance: Jaws
What a great title! One word. One syllable. One fear.
Spielberg could've called it a number of things:
o Great White
o Blood in the Water
But he didn't! He put a ton of thought into that title, I promise ya.
How about this one: Shogun
Great title. One word. Want more? How about this one: It
That's gotta be some sort of record. The longest book with the shortest title. It.
Think of a GREAT title!
Here are a couple of rules I like to use:
1) Avoid "The" statements. They're okay in small doses, but avoid titles like:
o The Monkey House
o The Red Fern
o The Clash of the Titans
o The Road
Start off punchy. Reword them to something like this:
o Welcome to the Monkey House
o Where the Red Fern Grows
o Clash of the Titans
o The Road (okay, that one won a fucking Pulitzer, let's keep it)
2) Make it thought-provoking. For instance:
o Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. It's about a serial killer. Get it? Any of McCarthy's titles are great. He understands this rule. Him and Vonnegut. Man I love those two guys. Add Bradbury and you'd have my fantasy crit-group.
o The Life of Pi. Okay, he broke my "The" rule, but that's okay, because somehow that title captures the feel of the book. It's a simple story with a straight-line plot, no curves, almost a YA read, but it's a thought-provoking look at being stranded and alone. And it's about what? It's about The Life of Pi. Get it?
o Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut. Tell me that title doesn't punch you in the face! WHAMMO!
3) Keep it simple. Stephen King is my favorite with this respect:
o The Stand (broke my "The" rule again, but note how few times he does it)
o The Shining (again...)
o The Dark Towers (again...)
o Bag of Bones
Here's a list of King titles. Look at them. See what I mean!
4) Write it big. If you give your work a great title, you'll inspire the reader to read your words. WRITE IT BIG! The title is your first hook.
Title title title. Never underestimate the power of a good title.
Title me titular. Get it?