Monday, 22 June 2009

Story Titles

Do you fret over your magazine story titles? It isn't often I get stuck for one, though members of my writing group might disagree the number of times I've called on them for their help! Sometimes a title drops into my lap before I've even written the story. Other times I don't know what it'll be until I write the final sentence. Browse through any women's mag and you might be struck by how cliched they can be. Rocket science it ain't!
Here are a few of my blander ones, all kept by the eds:

Food For Thought - sold to Best
Filthy Rich - sold to Take A Break
Wish Me Luck - sold to Fast Fiction (Aus) & Ireland's Own
Driving Me Crazy - sold to My Weekly & That's Life

Hardly original, huh? But then I've had the more intriguing ones:

An Angel In The Freezer - sold to My Weekly, Ireland's Own and Fast Fiction(Aus)
Can I Smell Ectoplasm? - sold to Fast Fiction(Aus) & Take A Break
Life Without An Undo Button - sold to Woman's Weekly.

So should we spend hours over our titles? My advice (others may disagee) is choose wisely to give it the best possible chance of standing out from the slushpile, but don't beat yourself up about it because eds often change them anyway. And remember, an intriguing title probably raises expectations as to the content. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can wow an ed with a flashy title then follow it up with a bland story.

If you're having touble deciding on a title you might try this random title generator Some will appear plain bonkers, but it is only throwing up random words, after all. Try it, ocassionally it comes up with a corker.

Want something more? Try this plot generator, designed by Cally Taylor.


Happy Writer said...

Some of your titles are certainly original and eyecatching, Sue. I can definitely see how an editors eye would be intrigued.

Titles have never been my strong point, but I've never stressed too much about it, because as you say, quite often they are changed anyway. It is always a pleasant surprise when I've found my original title had been used though.

Sue Houghton said...

What always pleases me no end is when I know they've not just used a stock photograph or illustration to accompany one of my stories. Like the one that featured an anorak-wearing nerd who dismantled his front bicycle tyre when leaving it unattended and carried it everywhere with him. TAB had a photo specially done for that one and it was spot on how I'd descibed the two characters. I was so thrilled they'd gone to those lengths.

Happy Writer said...

Hmmm, I don't think I've got any anorak wearing nerd photos lying around either - no wonder they had to do one especially. You must have really had them scratching their heads for a little while over that one when deciding on a picture. I think it goes to show that you must have described your characters and situation really well for them to have nailed the picture.