A Title Makes Sweet, Sweet Love

Some stories write themselves. One minute you’re struck with a great opening sentence and then the next you’re murdering a hobo down at the local park.

"I wash my hands of this, Bill!"

“I wash my hands of this, Bill!”

 

But really. The greatest opening sentence can give you the rest of the skeleton to follow. Unless you’re one of my stories and you’re kinda just left with the bloody entrails.

 

I swear to god a plot point is in here somewhere...

I swear to god a plot point is in here somewhere…

 

However, some of my better stories actually happened because of a title. The title begot the idea. Now put down the pitchforks and hear me out, folks, because it’s gonna blow your goddamned minds.

Titles are important. They are someone’s first impression of what a story may or may not be about. I mean, imagine if we all had the titles of what we consist of scrawled across our forehead…

 

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A good title that makes someone mutter expletives of admiration is a pretty frickin great accomplishment.

Sometimes I’ll just hear a great sentence or think a great line and know it’s a title. That title has already written my story and I haven’t even done anything yet. In fact, I have about five word docs on my computer that just have a title. No story. They’re waiting for me to come back to them when the time is right.

It’s like reverse psychology for writers.

Reasons why Title-to-Story work for me:

 

1.  Jolt those Synapses:  A story idea is instantly encapsulated in one lone title

Hey, thanks title! You just gave me a great idea for a story!

An hour later…bam. Flash fiction done.

You’re welcome.

 

2. Wait For Iiiiiiiiiiiiiit: It gives me something to come back to later

Say I have no ideas. Absolutely none. Instead, I’m working on writer’s block and a pint of gin on a lonely Sunday night. But having the urge to write I’ll stumble to the computer and pull up these blank word documents.

They all have titles. They all give me a place to start.

Even if I have absolutely no idea where I want the story to go but have a raging boner for the title it’s fun to just write. Don’t wait – let the title lead you. Wherever it’s going.

"Wha-What's in the alleyway,   Title?"

“Wha-What’s in the alleyway,
Title?”

 

3. Question and Answer: It forces you to ask, “What is this story really about?”

Now I’m not saying you have to be all matchy-matchy with the title and the story. Misdirection is good. Creativity is what we like.

But the two of them should flow somehow. Whether you know how it goes, or the reader gets it too, it should be as copacetic as KFC’s Double Down.

It's all gonna flow out of one end eventually.

It’s all gonna flow out of one end eventually.

Trying to find some connection between meaning and title makes you reevaluate what you wrote about and what you want to write about. You can always change the title. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s just a good jumping off point.

 

And so ends my tirade about the mighty title. It just doesn’t get the love it deserves.

It needs a parade.

A t-shirt needs to be created.

Someone crafty get on this. I’m envisioning something possibly disco-inferno themed, or something involving some sort of scratch-and-sniff-contraption.

 

No Comments
  • Reply

    megtuite

    December 3, 2012 at 1:02 am

    YES, YES, YES! I so agree on the titles! My favorite so far of the one’s that have plagued me is “How to Disturb the Eco-System of a Misappropriated Erection.”
    Going to pimp you again, Jules, and post this! LOVE it and so LOVE the photos you get. I’m always cracking up! Thank you!

  • Reply

    Ali Trotta

    December 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    For poetry, I used to always start with a title. Now, it’s most often an opening line, that I follow like footprints. I realized, after reading your post, that I rarely work from the title out, anymore — and that’s how I always used to write. Curious.

    Great post, my dear!

  • Reply

    Kath

    December 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I saw that hobo photo and I was done. Great post. Laughing my butt off.

  • Reply

    julesjustwrite

    December 7, 2012 at 6:06 am

    thanks to all. sorry i’m a slacker in response. XO.

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