Saturday, October 28, 2006

More On Titles

Okay, then… before we were swarmed upon by the authors published in the latest issue of IGMS, we were talking about titles. Had a nice little chat about good titles, with the promise of then taking up the subject of bad titles, and it’s time to pick up that topic and run with it.

Honestly, I don’t see a lot of titles that I would describe as being outright terrible. The biggest problem is usually one-word titles that are completely lacking in distinction. Not bad, so much as feeble. Titles like:

“Judgment”
“Expectations”
“The Cure “
“The Talent”/“Talented”

I’ve seen multiple stories with these one-word titles, or else variations that are quite similar. Now, a bad title doesn’t automatically mean a bad story. One of the three – yes, three – stories submitted in the last six months with the title “Expectations” is going to be published in an up-coming issue of IGMS. It’s just not going to appear with that title (I’ll leave it to the author in question to decide if he or she wants to publicly confess to this title in the next installment if “Stories Behind The Stories,” but I’m not going to be the one to out him/her.) Heck, I’ll even admit to having a story with a working title of “Expectations;” I just made sure when it went out the door it had a better one.

The problem with these one-worders is that they don’t do anything to grab a reader. Titles are like first lines; you want them to grab the readers attention, raise a question in the reader’s mind, and compel them to read the story. At the very least they should convey something of what the story is about.

Occasionally I do get a few titles that are just plain old bad titles. Usually this happens when the author is trying to be cute, and let me tell you in no uncertain terms that cute is never going to score any points. With anybody. Ever.

6 comments:

Jim said...

It's a good bit advice to have. I often keep one-word working titles on my stories in progress. In fact, I submitted one abysmal piece to IGMS way back in January with a one-word title (that story - and title - is actually in the midst of a complete overhaul right now). For me, one-word titles are a product of laziness - it's harder than people think to come up with titles that are both clever and gripping. It's certainly a skill I need to work on.

Zompi said...

Good advice, but I'm puzzled by what you mean as 'cute'? I can picture small, fluffy things with big brown eyes, but I guess that's not what you mean? ; )

Edmund R. Schubert said...
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Edmund R. Schubert said...

I'll use myself as an example of cute, so as not to embarass some of the folks who've submitted to IGMS (and believe me, there are some worth mocking). Anyway... I recenty wrote a story called "Alien Mime Control" and with any luck it will never see the light of day, because the story is is bad as the title (sometimes I just can't help myself). Alien Mime Control is what I mean by 'cute.' Trying to be clever by using puns and that sort of thing.

Zompi said...

Ah, thanks for that. It's clear now.

hafda said...
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