Say My Name
There are titles that fit perfectly with their subject, titles that could fit multiple subjects/contexts, and titles that don't work at all.
Recently I've seen several titles referenced that made me say “I HAVE to see that/read that!”. I'll share those at the end of the article.
A title can be handy if it tells you exactly what a piece of work is: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Jay's Internet Fight Club. The 40 Year Old Virgin.
I like titles like that. An actual statement of what you're getting, usually with a suggestion of the tone you'll be getting.
The title can also be a NAME. Probably the main character's name (though not always). Dracula. Superman. Archie. Forrest Gump. Charby the Vampirate. Calvin & Hobbes. Pinky TA.
A common, and interesting title can be an ASPECT of the story, that suggests a tone: JAWS. TREMORS. SCREAM. It's kind of neat how JAWS and TREMORS are very similar types of titles for very similar movies. Halloween and Friday the 13th, too.
Similarly, an unusual word or phrase can be cool. It's the kind of thing that makes a reader or viewer want to know what it means. This is a riskier approach, but can help a work stand out and remain memorable/recommendable with its unusual moniker: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Transneptunian. The Godstrain. The Silence of the Lambs.
Riskiest of all could be the “play on words” or “joke” title. These can be eye-catching, but could potentially lose their charm with repeated or extended exposure: The Santa Clause, Monster-In-Law, Chopping Mall, A Million to Juan, or The Earth, A Small Man, his Dog and a Chicken (that was an REO Speedwagon album).
Then there are phrases that could mean anything, and are potentially too vague. Sometimes they work, sometimes not: For Love or Money, Oblivion, From the Earth to the Moon, Diamonds are Forever, Something's Gotta Give.
A good title should either give some information on what it's about, or the tone of a piece of work, or promise SOMETHING, or create some kind of question or intrigue…or all of the above, if possible.
The title that caught my eye recently is for an anime. I don't know anything about it, but the title made me laugh and I'm going to have to watch it:
I couldn't become a hero, so i reluctantly decided to get a job
This promises a certain type of hero I think, and a certain kind of tone. I want to see it! I wonder if it'll be any good…
What are your favorite/least favorite titles? How do you go about finding titles for your work?
Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 19, 2015
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