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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THE ABC'S OF HOW 'NOT' to WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION: T is for TITLES

TITLES ARE A SMALL BUT IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF ANY STORY. They should reflect the plot or theme while at the same time spark reader interest. Titles that are vague, clichéd, or overly provocative are best avoided and a clear hint to the editor that the story that follows will likely be the same. 

Examples of Vague Titles (that we've seen far too many times):
  • A Tale of Tales (or The Untold Tale, The War of Wars, etc.)
  • Desire (or Scourge, Beast, Lost, Devastation, etc.)
  • The Diary (or The Dance, The Damned, The Void, The Feast, etc.)
Examples of Clichéd Titles:
  • The Changeling
  • The Greatest Show on Earth
  • Rites of Passage
  • Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
  • To Hell and Back 
Examples of Overly Provocative Titles:
  • The Key to the Refrigerator Brain at the End of Time
  • Peter Pun
  • Fluffy Bunny and Wonkey Wabbit Meet the Killer Worms 
In some, but far less frequent cases, I've come across titles that have nothing to do with the story. It may be that the writer was trying for subtlety, or used a metaphor that didn't work. 

Last word on titles? Give as much thought to your title as you do to the rest of your prose.

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