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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Title Picking

I actually have a file in my computer with this name. In it, I've pasted every piece of good advice I've ever read about selecting a title for your writing. It's something I'm not at all good at, picking a really great title, and it's something I think I should be.

When I was a librarian, the youngest kids would ask for "the red book with the dog on the front," but by the time they were old enough to read for themselves and to pay attention to the recommendations of their friends, they usually remembered the title, or at least some part of it. Kind of like me now with Potato Peel Pie Society. See, I can't ever get it all out, but I know enough to find it at the library.

So I think this article in the current Glimmertrain is worth saving in my file. Written by Eric Puchner, it's filled with gems likes these:

"...there seems to be very little correlation between producing something brilliant and the ability to come up with a half-decent name for it. Perhaps it's a different skill set entirely. I sometimes think there should be professional titlers: just as we wouldn't ask a carpenter to tar the roof of our house, we shouldn't expect writers to work outside their m├ętier."

Some people are just plain good at titles, and fortunately I have a few of those in my writing life. Because I agree that it's crucial to have a good one. I mean, would you have loved The Great Gatsby as much by another name?

"..keep in mind it wasn't Fitzergerald's idea. He wanted to call the novel Trimalchio in West Egg, which sounds like something Dr. Seuss might have dreamed up for the Playboy channel."

That's my gift, via Eric Pucher and Glimmertrain, to you today.

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