Titles are hard.

No matter how long I procrastinate, no matter how much revising and brooding I do over a story, I always find myself staring at the top of the page and the isolated italic word that seems to be glaring at me through the computer screen.

Untitled.

It’s how I start every story I write and I can never quite figure out the best way come up with a good title to represent the hard work I’ve put into a piece. Half of the time I feel like I end up choosing something obvious and unimaginative.

But do titles have to be super imaginative? Joan Wickersham wrote a whole book of stories with the same title: The News from Spain. Right away you can guess that in each story there will in fact be some sort of news from Spain. Each one, however, weaves the news into the plot in a unique way that beautifully ties all of the stories together.

The way I see it, a good title does one job: give the reader a sneak peak into what they should be taking away from or looking for in the story. I’m a fan of short and to-the-point titles that use some aspect of the plot while tying in an overarching message or theme.

A title doesn’t have to be a tell-all about the plot, nor does it have to be some vague message for the reader to decipher. I’ve found that the best titles are sometimes the simplest ones. No matter how much brooding I do, the best one is usually staring me straight in the face.

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  • Lexi B. says:

    I can definitely relate to this feeling; coming up with the titles of stories has to be just as hard, if not more so, than ending a story! I think you bring up an interesting point about reminding yourself how titles are supposed to give a taste of what is to come in the novel–they don’t necessarily have to be imaginative or clever or witty. I think that also just depends on your writing personality too! I’ll try to remember these words of advice so as to not be too hard on myself the next time. 🙂