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Titles. All the writers i know hate them.

Thursday 5 November 2009

A title wants to:

  • stand out – make your story, poem or book the one someone will turn to first from a list
  • be memorable – so readers can recommend your work after it’s wowed them!
  • be relevant, of course
  • perhaps touch on more than one aspect of the piece, say a literal and a figurative reference
  • not give away the ending
  • … and yet hint at irresistible content

Half the trouble is that once the piece is written, you (if you’re like me) kind of lose interest, or maybe i mean the creative surge that brought the piece into being rarely sticks around for the thinking up of a title.

So i was interested in Hilary Dixon‘s method, which she explains in an interview in the October 2009 issue of Writing Magazine:

I must admit that finding [the title of my first novel] nearly drove me nuts! In the end, I wrote lots of words connected with the novel on a blackboard in my kitchen, where they caught my eye a thousand times a day. After a while, the words seemed to group and cluster, patterns emerged, and one day When Rooks Speak of Love was there.

When i have something long enough to justify that much effort (do i mean effort? time?) waiting for its title, i’ll try this.

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