Untitled (as in “the title of this post is “Untitled,” not “this post has no title,” see?)

http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/07/entitlement-part-i.html

http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/07/entitlement-part-ii.html

These two posts got me thinking about titles. I’ve never felt confident in my titling abilities, truth be told. Mine seem to lack kick. My one published story went through four or five different titles between its many drafts, and one of those was a request from the editor. I ended up with the best title I’d imagined for the story, but was it the best it deserved?

I haven’t considered how important a title really is. When I’m skimming over stories, trying to decide what to read, I know I pass over something that doesn’t catch my attention. Short stories have no other way to introduce themselves — the title is their handshake. Some might get a blurb, too, but you can’t rely on that.

So, I resolve to be more thoughtful about titles from now on. You just watch me.

One last thing: the second post refers to titles that existed before the actual stories. I love this. It never happened to me — I’ve always come up with the story idea first — but it is something  I want to try. It reminds me of one of my brainstorming methods: I take a few random words and see how they bang together in my head, like elements creating a chemical reaction. Definitely need to give it a try.

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2 Comments on “Untitled (as in “the title of this post is “Untitled,” not “this post has no title,” see?)”

  1. Dale says:

    James Joyce wasn’t happy with one of the titles in his collection “Dubliners.” An hour before the book went to press he had an epiphany, called his editor, and had the name changed. The point being, titles are almost always bad. Good titles are like puffs of pipe smoke in a wind storm. My advice to you would be to keep a title journal filled with your “chemical reactions.”
    The Joyce story was “Clay” about a young girl going to a dinner party, freaking brilliant!

  2. A journal is just the sort of idea I need. Thanks. And thanks for the anecdote, too.


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