“Title”

A quick guessing game, readers: I’ll give you four words, and you try to figure out what they have in common. Ready?

“Blog”. “Networking”. “Theme”. “Gant”.

            Right-e-o, now I’ll cue up the iconic thinking music from “Jeopardy!”, and— Oh, never mind, you’ve either figured it out already or I’m about to spoil it all for you. They’re the titles of my previous blog posts, of course – all straightforward, all one word, all… slightly less than dazzling, I’m aware. Maybe coming up with “an identifying name given to a book, play, film, musical composition, or other work” (definition one) or “a general or descriptive heading, as of a book chapter” (def. two) comes easily to some people. Not so to me.

            You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. (Or, I don’t know, maybe you would, but I wouldn’t.) Titles don’t have to be all that complicated to stand the test of time. “Oliver Twist”, “Moby Dick”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Dracula”… Those are all just names, for goodness sake. I might just as easily have dropped “The Ballad of…” and called it a day. And actually, a handful of my stories with naught but a name or names for a title do come to mind. But that isn’t a device I’d want to employ all the time.

            I tend to find it easier, when naming books in a series, if I give myself a template to follow, a la the alliterative adjective/noun pair pattern established by certified genius Lemony Snicket in every volume (save “The End”) of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. Based on the first title of what morphed into my “Wilderhark Tales”, when it came time to title the subsequent five books in the series, I gave myself rules: First word, “The”; second word, starts with “S”; and the third word could be anything that looked promising.

            But be it series or standalone, only rarely will I attempt to brave a lineup of chapter titles – bane of the label-challenged! …Well, part-time bane. Certainly, writers like Howard Pyle in “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” – (I pause to sigh deliriously at the mention of Robin Hood) – make it look like a piece of cake. “Robin Hood and the Tinker”; “Robin Hood and Will Scarlet”; “Robin Hood Compasseth the Marriage of Two True Lovers”… Simplicity itself.

            Maybe that’s my problem: I struggle with simplicity. I can’t just say “Bruno and the Frogs” and leave it at that. …Or, I suppose I could, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “When Bloated Frog Things Attack… Or, Y’know, Just Sit There”. So if anything, the unfussy, one-word headers of my blog posts are actually a challenging departure for me. (Kinda like having a blog, in that respect.)

            And to any of you lovely people who are thinking complimentary things about my blog’s title, “Ever On Word”, I thank you… and then pass the kudos onto my tailor (who, for someone who insists on thinking of himself as thick-witted, spends an awful lot of time being the brains of this operation).

4 thoughts on ““Title”

  1. I have issues with simplistic titles too. My poetry titles generally end up like a Fall Out Boy Song. Ex: Bad Drawings From The Seaweed Castle and/or Princesses That Like Colors.

    It seems I just can’t control them! Novel titles are perplexing especially for me because there are so many out there already that are amazingly fantastical. Also the fact that I can’t spin off with a title that is too long and too random and has virtually nothing to do with the actual story like I can with my poetry.

    Titles of books have to be something that connects intently with the content of the book. That’s why I don’t like cliche titles or over used ones. When I hear the title it should remind me of what’s inside of the book not on a billion and a half other things that also connect with the title ‘a bit’.

    • “Bad Drawings from the Seaweed Castle”… that’s actually a little bit intriguing; most unique, in any event.

      There are a lot of really great titles out there, that’s for sure, and it’s such a bittersweet thing: “Yay, that title is completely perfect and full of win!”-slash- “Sob, now I can’t use it! …Or I could, but who wants to be a copycat?”

      Agreed, titles that are specific to the book are best. If I may invoke the word “Twilight” without causing a riot in the street, I thought it was good that the titles in the saga connected to each other, but I never felt that the original title had very much to do with the story attached to it. I can’t recall the word “twilight” coming up inside the book more than once, and even then it didn’t seem to have much bearing on the story. …And now you can’t say the word “twilight” in public without triggering somebody’s reflex to either cheer or gag. So I guess in that respect, the title’s done its job, eh?

      • I guess once a book becomes famous enough for people to not *actually* care what’s on the inside of the cover any more, it doesn’t matter what it connects to. Twilight has become more of a trend than an actual book. Half the people that have insane opinions about it haven’t read it or only read it to be apart of the whole phase that America went through.

        I think the titles did somewhat connect when you thought about the symbols. For Twilight is was this new begining for them, in New Moon Edward went away and he talked about how when they were gone all of the light left from his life, in Eclipse they talked about how Jacob cancelled him out or something, and I have blocked the last book from my mind so I don’t remeber that one.

      • A crying shame how worked up people will get about books that they’ve only seen movie posters for, isn’t it?

        Sure, the 2nd – 4th titles always made perfect sense to me. It was only that first one that I felt was a bit tenuous. Granted, “twilight” can be applied to both day’s post-sunset and pre-dawn, but my mind will tend to assume the former, so the concept of “beginnings” didn’t register as strongly. On the other hand, were I to think of twilight as *night’s* beginning, that could actually work quite well indeed.

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