Titles To Tantalise

You’ve put all your blood, sweat, and tears into your masterpiece, laboured over each and every word, you want to get your writing project noticed. The title is the quickest way to do it.

by Jamie Campbell

Many times, the title of a project is something you think of later, something you slap on the heading so that you’ve got something there. Anything will do, right? Nope, think again.

I went to a screenwriting seminar once, led by a writer who had worked for Disney for many years. Sometimes she would be given a title and told to find a movie that matched it. I figured if it was good enough for Disney, it was good enough for me and really started focusing on my titleNX_hand_holding_pencils.

It makes sense, really. The first thing someone reads is the title, it’s the first thing people ask ‘what’s it called?’, and it’s probably the only thing they’ll remember. Try imagining your favourite movie with another title, would it work? Maybe, maybe not.

Anything will do, right? Nope, think again.

And I know what you’re thinking – it’s the story people care about, not the flashy title or cover, and titles get changed all the time anyway. But you have to reel them in some way. You have to give them an excuse to read your story and if they like the title, they might get to the first page.

My two most successful series began with the titles. I had no idea what the stories were going to be, I just had a name for them. Cinderella is Evil popped into my head and I thought that was kind of a cool twist to the whole Cinderella is a perfect princess tale. The story went from there and the biggest feedback I get is that the title caught their attention.

Seeking-A-Friend-For-The-End-Of-The-WorldSimilarly with A Hairy Tail, I wanted something that sounded like a fairy tale. From the title I came up with a story revolving around an animal shelter, threw in some teenage romance, and I had a series.

You have to give them an excuse to read your story.

When those two series took off, I really started to believe in the power of the title. When I start a project now, I always begin with the name. It needs to be eye-catching, interesting, and stand out from the mass of other projects exactly like mine.

So what makes a good title? Who knows? Some believe in the short and punchy (Grease, Argo, Fight Club, Pitch Perfect, The Godfather). But then long titles can work too (The Sound of Music, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Lord of the Rings). Size apparently doesn’t matter.

What is important is that your title is easily remembered, unique, and says something about your story. When those three things combine, you are more likely to get noticed than another project with a boring title.

-Jamie Campbell


Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.

Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.

Her latest series Project Integrate is out now.

Photo Credits: Graphic Stock

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