What’s in a Title?

I wrote the title of this post as an actual question, and I sincerely do not know the answer.

Ever since I can remember, I have always sucked at coming up with creative titles for posts, poems, short stories, essays, and pretty much anything.  My mind always tries to fit every single aspect of the piece into the title, which of course is never possible, and then my title ends up being half a mile long.  During high school, I would usually title my papers X, and then convince a certain friend to come up with a decent paper title that would only be a few words, which was another thing I always struggles with: too long of titles.  In fact, the title of my longest running personal journal is actually, The Thoughts, Memoirs, Reflections, Personal Anecdotes, and Observations of a Perfectly Average Minded Human Being That Binge Writes Just Enough for this Compilation of Scribbling to Avoid Becoming Extinct, and we all know that, while that title may be slightly humorous, it will also never fit in the small space of a post or on an eventual book cover.

So what’s in a good title?  What makes a title summarize all of the excellence of a work in a few words, yet also grasp those who see it and make them want to read it?  I’m certainly the last to know, but I would like to find out and somehow improve my title-creating skills.  I know some people say to title your post something interesting even if it doesn’t necessarily relate to your post, however, I feel like that is just misleading.  Although I could have titled this post something like,  23 Mistakes I Made During My Drivers’ Test (all 23 of these definitely occurred during my parallel park) or 5 Ways To Get Accused of Crime at Walmart While Still Remaining Innocent (this has also sadly happened to me…), neither of those topics, while attention grabbing, are accurate according to the article.  I don’t want to disappoint readers when they click on my over-exciting sounding post, and then they end up reading that I can’t come up with good titles and they think “Wow, I’ve been so lied to…”

So yeah I don’t know.  Bottom line, I suck at titles and I’m working on it.  Any suggestions you guys have would be very much appreciated!





11 thoughts on “What’s in a Title?”

  1. Well personally I feel an abstract title, is the best. I usually limit it to 1-2 words ( rarely 3). It isn’t even important that the word is present in the post, just the emotion should be relatable. So when the reader finishes the post and reads the title again everything falls into place.

    Usually what I do is to make the last few words of my posts relating to the title. Hop this helps XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have seen some really crappy titles but at least in wordpress I read the excerpt to determine if I am intetested enough to read the whole post. A title might hook the reader but I hope it doesn’t determine if one reads the post or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Diary of a Liar” was a fine title . It caught me but it you wanted a different group something like,”I may not be the world’s greatest liar but I keep trying.” might grab a younger group. Just a thought. I always try to challenge folks to read a little to see what exactly the title means. I enjoyed youe Liar’s Diary very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was my pleasure. I should have mentioned that the same technique can work with titling nonfic, since I see you want to become a technical writer. In nonfiction, clarity is more important than hooking the reader, since you’re primarily promising readers you can solve a problem for them. Glad you were able to relate to the fantasy examples. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Actually, I think you’re on the right track with your fake titles above. And don’t worry, I’ve had to grow into generating titles, too. What helped me was writing about a hundred short stories. I had to come up with way more titles than if I’d just stuck to novels.

    Short is good, but the main thing for me at least is that it has to hook the reader. (A hook is often something that gets the reader to ask themselves a small question.) Also of consideration is if your title can promise a genre, too. Consider some of these:

    The Hobbit (What the heck is a hobbit? That’s the hook part.)
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Brilliant title! It hooks and promises genre.)
    The Warlock In Spite of Himself (Okay, you can probably tell I’m a fantasy reader.)

    But there are also titles like:
    Murder on the Orient Express (gives genre and setting),
    The Hunt for Red October, and
    Around the World in 80 Days, which would have been very hooky at the time it was published.

    In general, I don’t think there’s any way to shortcut learning to generate titles (or at least there hasn’t been for me with anything writing-related). So I’m going to suggest going to Amazon and becoming very familiar with the top titles in your genre. Study them. Look for commonalities. See which ones attract you and analyze why (okay, that one’s real hooky, this one gives character and setting, etc.) Find patterns that work for other authors and see if you can adapt them to your own writing.

    Hope something here helps. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow thank you so much for the advice! I really appreciate it and, as a fellow fan of fantasy, I enjoyed your examples. I will definitely give the Amazon thing a try and the suggestion of getting readers to ask a small question is good-I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks so much for the advice and for stopping by my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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