My editor hated Trellis of Tears and I loved it. This post was born from that dispute.
Writing titles that sell (or catch the interest of your readers) is a bit like walking on a tight rope, finding that balance between what I dare to do and what I must do to keep from falling (read: failing!). It’s an art. It started out as a pasttime when I was writing clever titles to adventurous newsletters I sent home to family and friends from abroad. But now, as I turn to writing as my livelihood, titles must be clear and connect with my reader.
Joy of Creating
As an English language specialist and a passionate writer, I have always loved playing with the language. Since I’ve turnedto freelance writing, I often lie awake at night thinking about the clever titles I can give my stories. But it’s not an easy job! I start with what my story is about, and then I choose some key words, and play with them in a number of ways.
What My Ed-Asner Type of Editor Thinks
Sometimes he accuses me of writing the story to suit my chosen title! (instead of fitting the title to my story).
When he moans, “A-my!” he means “That’s lame!” you’ll have to come up with something better.
He claims my connections are too esoteric. Ha! He’s actually been right on occasion about this. But the connection is so clear to me! (ONLY me, he points out).
I deliberate too long. To speed me up, he throws out five or six ideas. (I’m awed! He has multiple births that just pop out; Mine come only after a difficult and painful pregnancy and are delivered through laborious labor. I’m exhausted at the end of the process. But I fall in love with these painstakingly-produced titles the instant I see their sweet faces!).
But a great writer need to do two things: make great, or at least, marketable, titles that sell and build a following and tell a compelling story. As I journey into the arena of professional writing, I am learning more about this craft. These are some of the technique I use to write titles:
Milestones and Gravestones
Midnight Comes Into the Light
Stranger in a Strange Land
Alliteration – one of my favorite methods; I think it appeals to the poet in me.
(the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of a series of words or phrases.
The Traveling Trio of Taiwan
Twisted Roads and Traffic Thrills
Beams and Blindness
Similar structure of words
Bead-by-Bead (plays on bit by bit) as well as using alliteration
Play on Words – this is another method I love but, at times, only I see the connection (i.e. Talia Tales – it’s a bit of a stretch and doesn’t match so well with the content as there are no tattle tales in the story)
It Matters Where You Look (physically, and spiritually)
Talia-Tales (plays on tattle-tale, but I am tattling on my niece Talia by sharing some good stories)
Aiming for a 20-20 Attitude (story is about vision loss)
E-Harmony has nothing on these dates (article about food)
Comparisons / Allegories
Rooting Down to God’s Nutrients
Ya Done Real Good
Cool it, Bud! (story about wanting a cold beer on a hot day)
Darkness is as Light to Him
Testing Strangers, Strangest Test
Cool Titles that Roll Off My Tongue
The Mother of Greece Speaks
Word Pictures – I really love it when I come up with these vivid pictures in my mnd
Golden Carpet of Dreams
The Angel on my Mother’s Shoulder
Unlikely Word Combinations
The Colors of My Laughter
Coughing My Way into my Chinese Doctor’s Heart
The Going-Blind Cat
The Start of a Working Man’s Day
A Belated Introduction
Word Phrase Combinations – sometimes a little is enough.
Destination: Southern India
My Father’s Legacy
Informative (these kind are necessary, too!)
Book Signing Today!
Preparing for the HACWN Conference
The Best Employer
I delight in playing in playing with the sound and spelling of words. Knowing the information below helps in creating titles.
Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings
Homonyms are a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings, but have different spellings.
Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.
Heteronyms are a tope of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings, but sound different. (tear – as in teardrop; tear – as in rip)
WORDS THAT BOTH SOUND THE SAME AND ARE SPELLED THE SAME are both homonyms (same sound) and homographs (same spelling). Example: lie (untruth) and lie (prone); fair (county fair), fair (reasonable).
A great link to the explanation:
My title: Trellis of Tears
Can you figure out how many different levels this title can be used? Drop your responses in my Comments. Or if you have another great technique for creating titles, go ahead and share that too! We need to celebrate our successes.
Well, I’m off to talk to my cantancerous editor now and fight for more titles. Only we don’t meet face-to-face in a newsroom; our mode of communication is cell phone or skype. I’m only glad his bark is worse than his bite! BTW, I appreciate all the time my editor takes to help me with my craft.