Thursday, August 28, 2014

Awesome Title

I've been thinking about titles recently. Book titles, blog post titles, that sort of thing. Titles can be very important. Titles can make a book sound unbelievably boring, or incredibly interesting. Titles can reveal everything, or conceal everything.

I'm not very good at coming up with titles, if you couldn't tell by the very title of this post.

I've always struggled with titles because, well, they are supposed to be short and creative and encapsulate the entire essence of what you've written. But the conundrum for me has always been, if I just spent so much time writing so many words to express the essence of what I want to say, whether it be a blog post or an academic paper or a novel, how do I boil that down to a mere few words in a title? So I end up with a title that is generic, obvious, or more often incoherent (the number one comment I got back from classmates who edited my last paper was that the title didn't seem to describe the paper I had written).

The ladies over at Brilliant Business Moms recently wrote a post about how to craft a killer blog post (from which I gleaned that I write very un-killer blog posts), and here's what they had to say about titles:
Research shows that many readers do not make it past the title of your post.  Was your title too long or confusing?  Did you hook your reader by making them curious or evoking emotion?
The research says that the first 3 words and last 3 words of your title are all that your readers will see. Did you pack the most important words towards the beginning and end of your title? The beginning of your title is also more weighted for SEO, so fit your key words into the title quickly.
I realized that probably over 50% of my post titles begin with "Book Review:" Hmm, now isn't that just a thrillingly evocative hook.

However, I do think I'm a bit better at coming up with titles than novelists of the 18th Century. I recently saw this list floating around facebook of actual novel titles from the 1700s, and I must say it gave me a chuckle. My particular favorite is The Adventures Of An Ostrich Feather Of Quality, followed closely by The Adventures Of An Irish Smock, Interspersed With Whimsical Anecdotes Of A Nankeen Pair Of Breeches.

I mean, are those fantastic titles, or are they fantastic titles?

And yet, somehow, I'm not inspired to read one of the books listed.

So, maybe I'm slightly better than most 18th Century authors, but still. I think I could work on coming up with better titles, in every genre I write. It's an artform, crafting titles, and one I haven't put a lot of thought into. But this is my new writing goal (manageable because it is small). I'm going to pay more attention to titles, the ones other people write and the ones I come up with on my own. I'm going to reflect more on how titles influence the way I feel about a piece of writing. I'm going to be more purposeful in how I create titles. Hopefully this will be one small way I can improve my writing overall.

No comments:

Post a Comment