In kind of a follow-up to that, I decided to scroll through my database of slush entries and post some titles that caught my eye. The only qualification is that the title had to make me interested in reading the story. I gauged interest by whether or not I slowed down my scrolling for more than a second to consider the title.
Hillbillies and Hovercars
Dead Letter Box
My Anosmia Blog
Redeef's Hungry Wife
Robots Just Want to Get Paid
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Free Surprise in Every Box
Death's Last Daughter
Indecent Magical Things
Showing Fairies for Fun and Profit
The Booby-Trapped Boy
Eye of Newt and iPods
Iron Clown Gideon
More Than Kin, and Less Than Kind
The Skin of the Lesser God
The Prophet and the Clown
Captain Amberson's Amazing Electric Menagerie
Boys that Bite, Boys that Bark
Feeding the Feral Children
The Truth About Robots
The Tiger in the Forest Between Two Worlds
Heart of Darkest Tortuguero
There are a couple things that strike me about the titles I’ve selected. I like titles that have a little bit of poetry to them—assonance and alliteration, when not overdone, draw my eye and give me the impression that the author is literate and quite possibly even intelligent. I apparently like titles that seem refer to other literary works—is Heart of Darkest Tortuguero an analog for Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? Does The Tiger in the Forest Between Two Worlds make reference to Blake’s The Tyger?
I also like titles that suggest a story—Redeef’s Hungry Wife, for example. That’s conjures visions of an insanely peckish woman, and her hand-wringing husband who tries to sate her. What does he give her to eat? What macabre appetites does poor Redeef try to satisfy?
A third element I notice in these titles is that I seem to be drawn to the combination of words that don’t necessarily go together—like Artificial Intuition. Usually, I hear about artificial intelligence; intuition is word that implies an inborn-ness that is contrary to the idea of artificial.
While I like titles that imply adventure and travel (Heart of Darkest Tortuguero) I noticed while scrolling through the slush titles that stories that use alien and fantasy names in their titles tend to be dissuasive.
Things to keep in mind…
--Scott M. Roberts
Assistant Editor, IGMS