Hi, my name is Laura, and I’m a writer who can’t write titles. I mean, really. I suck at writing titles. Every piece I work on is ‘Untitled’ until…well, for most of them, forever. They are stuck in untitled purgatory, waiting to be cleansed of my sins. Whenever I DO come up with a title, it’s — to put it mildly — weak sauce. WEAK SAUCE I TELL YOU.

Since I clearly have no effin’ clue as to how to write a good title, I’ve decided to dissect some of my favorites. Theory being that poring over them will help me understand how to come up with ones of my own. That, or osmosis will just take over and I’ll suddenly be able to write brilliant titles. Tada!

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Why it works for me: I immediately want to know why we’re supposed to focus on the wife, not the time traveler. Dude CLEARLY has a cool job.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
This one is a little harder to pinpoint, but I think it’s a) the words sound great together when read out loud, and b) it’s kind of grandiose. Also, the promise of adventure.

The Grapes of Wrath
You never knew fruit could be wrathful until this moment.

What are some of your favorite titles? Why do you love them? Show me, tell me. I am greedy for titles.

9 thoughts on “Titles

  1. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All: A Novel
    by Allan Gurganus

    I find the title alone is intriguing, but the title along with the author’s name really got my attention. A man takes on the point of view of an elderly woman? Yes, he does, and I thought he did it quite well.

    1. Good one! And one I haven’t read. Reminds me of “The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas” by Gertrude Stein (which I DID read, and hated with a fiery passion…but it has a decent title).

  2. A couple of my favorites are Silent Spring by Rachael Carson and How I Became Stupid by Martin Page. For the first, I find it intriguing because spring should be full of birds chirping and everything coming back to life. For the second, it made me really curious how and why someone would consciously choose to be stupid. It’s a fantastic book by the way if you haven’t read it – and really short!

    1. Good point on “Silent Spring”! I think it also resonates with me because of the alliteration.
      I’ve heard great things about “How I Became Stupid”–I’ll have to pick it up!

  3. “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers, is a mouthful, giving it an unrefined feeling, and very much parallels the style of the book – raw, at times hard to read, but very emotional.

    1. LOVE that book, and love that title. I think I like it for the same reason I like “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” – it’s over-the-top.

  4. I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM. I always tell people, “titles are the hardest part.” So yeah…sorry I can’t actually offer you any words of wisdom.

    1. I also can’t title something until it’s more or less finished. Don’t understand how people do otherwise!

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