Have you ever been drawn to a book in a bookshop, an article in a magazine or a blog on a website, by its title? Or, have you ever rejected a book because of its title? A good title should grab the attention of your audience and make them want to pick up your story and read it. So read on for some tips on how to grab the attention of your audience with a good title.
The title of your story is the first thing that your potential audience will see and so it is your chance to make a good impression. It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if your title fails to catch the attention of your readers they may never read it and find out just how good it is.
Good titles are not only attention grabbing they are also memorable. Here are some well-known examples of distinctive and memorable titles:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M Pirsig)
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (Toby Young)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Schafer)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks)
Think about your potential audience. Who are they and what do you think would make them want to read your story?
Think of your title as an advertisement for your story. If you are writing about your life and experiences, titles such as My memoirs, The story of my life or My holiday etc. are fine if you story is only going to be read by family and friends. However, if you want to reach a wider audience, you should come up with a title which is a bit more imaginative and has a broader appeal.
Titles should be relevant
A title should reflect your content. Don’t mislead or disappoint your readers by using a title which is completely irrelevant or inappropriate.
Choose a title which makes your potential reader curious.
One way of grabbing the attention of a prospective reader is to choose a title which provokes an emotional response or makes them curious. For example, an enigmatic title, an outrageous title, an emotive title or a humorous title. However, don’t alienate your potential readers by making your title too quirky or too clever.
Use an original title
Book titles are not protected by copyright and so, in theory, you could pinch someone else’s title. However, it is advisable and much more fun to come up with your own original title. If you are really stuck for ideas you could look for inspiration from the titles of existing books etc.. You could even play around with the words to create a new title with a twist.
Alliteration and other devices
People respond to titles that are memorable and so using devices such as alliteration and rhyme can help to make a title more memorable.
Use a quote
Look for a quote or some dialogue in your story which really captures the spirit of your story but be prepared to edit it if it is too long.
Keep your titles short
It is generally better to keep your titles short, simple and direct but if you have your heart set on a longer title don’t sacrifice it for a shorter, less inspired title. However, the titles of some best sellers are short:
A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
Mansfield Park (Jane Austin)
When you are ready, move on to Lesson 8 to find out how to go about editing and revising your story.