Friday, July 31, 2009

Choosing a title

One of the first things a reader sees on any story is the title. Choosing a title for a short story is a little different than a novel. If a person writes a novel and their agent or publisher thinks that the title doesn't work then they will come up with alternative titles. When a person writes a short story the title is all on them. There is no agent. There is no publisher. It's just the writer and the magazine that the writer is submitting too. So, what can you do to come up with a good title for your short story? I've been giving this a lot of thought myself because choosing a title is difficult for me. There are some simple things to do to help you come up with a good title and get your short story published.

1. Sometimes a good title comes without a story. Write it down. Keep a list. You'll find a lot of writer's blogs and books on writing that tell you to keep a little notebook on you to jot down all your ideas. Devote a page to titles. If you don't use one the titles as is it could help you come up with a different title.

2. Read over your story, is there a particular theme or point that your story is trying to convey. Did your character learn or not learn something important? This would also be a good way to come up with a title for your story.

3. Readers and critique groups. If you belong to a critique group or you have people that read your stories before you send them out you could ask for help in coming up with a title. While I've never used a reader's suggestion outright it has given me ideas and helped me out with titles.

Titles are important it's the first thing an editor of a magazine sees. If they don't like your title they won't change it. While in short story writing the writer has more control because we don't have to deal with agents or publishing houses we do have more responsibility for our work. If a magazine editor doesn't like your story you'll just get a rejection and not become published. So come up with a smashing title and reduce your chances of getting your story rejected.


colbymarshall said...

sometimes titles come really easy for me, but sometimes its like pulling teeth to think of one that works. My current WIP came naturally thank goodness!

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