Good news! Someone critiqued one of my stories, and said she really liked my title. Yes, indeed, she thought it worked very nicely on two levels, and it impressed her as good.
Silly right? But this is a huge success for me. Titles have been my bane, my downfall, my curse. The thing that I fail at worse than worst. And here, finally, someone found one of my titles not just ‘not bad,’ but actually good! I’m dancing on air.
OK, yes, the story has other things that need to be fixed. Of course it does. That, after all, is why we join crit groups, right? To have others put the critical eye to our words and ideas before an editor or slush-reader takes one look and says ‘Nope!’ To show us where our ideas don’t make it across the page barrier into the reader’s mind, or where our story or plot took a short-cut and got lost. (One of my “favorites” has been the story arc that doesn’t arc, but spirals. Sigh.)
I’ve been working at titling, trying different methods: starting with a title and writing a story to fit, casting for a title last, searching quotes for title ideas after discovering the theme, etc. In each case, I’ve found it difficult. Even when starting with a title, I often have to change it by the end because it no longer seems right, somehow. But I have noticed, slowly and gradually, that my titles were getting a bit better, that it was becoming easier to come up with something acceptable, something I could nod at and think, “Yeah, that’s not bad.”
Does this mean I’m a titling wizard? Hah! Far from it. It just means that, once again I’ve re-discovered that practice makes my work improve. Hardly original, I know, but true nonetheless.
So how about you? Any titles you’re particularly proud of? Any techniques to share?
2 thoughts on “A Minor Victory”
I’m no title wizard, but I’ve only had to change one title between acceptance and publication, so maybe I’m not bad at it, either. I didn’t used to know what I was doing, but I think Connie Willis said it really well: the title should mean one thing to the reader before they read the story, and something more once they’ve finished. Now I hold this up as a measuring stick to the titles I choose. My favorite so far is “Breathless in the Deep,” which is forthcoming from Lightspeed.
That is great advice (and one more reason to love Connie Willis). Amazingly, that is how my title worked (works?). More amazingly, I picked it as the working title and never had to change it! Finally, “Breathless in the Deep” can’t appear fast enough–very intriguing title, indeed. And congrats on such an awesome sale!
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