There is always that spot that lingers between the header and the first line of a story. Its not a smudge and its not something that should be ignored. I want to fill it with something, something that will catch my reader’s eye. Draw them in and provide them with questions about what the story is going to be about, make them ask what will happen to my characters or set the overall tone of the story that is about to unfold. But that blank space just keeps staring at me, its the first thing I see when I sit down to begin a new story and the last thing that shines in my face as I click the red X to close the document.
The Title.I know plenty of people who say titles are easy to come up with, as if they just sit down and BAM there’s a title that will sell and inspire. When I sit down I think “Oh my gosh I have a great story but what am I going to call it?” The title is always the last thing on my list to tackle in hopes that this mythical creature will reveal itself somewhere in the narrative.
One way to discover your title is in the lines you write. That extra special line of dialogue could contain what is meant to be your title. That one sentence you chose to make into its own paragraph? The opening sentence? The final sentence? A description? All of these moments could contain your title! So why can’t I find my title in any of these things?!?! I read through my stories and nothing jumps out at me. Its not that my lines are bad, at least I hope that’s not the reason, but when I’m reading the title seems to bury itself deep within the text. I’m then forced to give my story a bland title like document number 1, letter to Esther, Title this later draft 3.
My next hunting grounds are themes. Maybe my title is lurking in the shadows of the theme of my short story. Sadness, loathing, pursuit, life, love? I’ve been told to avoid or take a break from one word titles. To title most of my pieces with just a word would mean to title all my pieces with one word so I need to add a few more tag lines into the mix. Maybe I’m sad this piece doesn’t have a title? The Self Loathing of an Author Searching for a Title? The Pursuit of of Titles? Titles that give you Life! Love your Title?
No, themes never work for me either.
So what’s a girl to do when she can’t find her title anywhere? For now I slap something between the header and first line of my story because the topic does not come up in workshop. We discuss titles but as far as critiquing goes, it tends to be more content based because there seems to be a mutual understanding among the group that we all know our titles are just place holders for something greater to take place.
So what about you my fellow writers? How do you find that perfect title? Do you wait for it to find you? Is it somewhere in your dialogue or narrative? Or is it a theme?
This post is in response to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.