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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Titles

As far as texts go - books, ebooks, poetry, films etc. - what are your thoughts on titles? What do you value in a title? 

In my literature class over the past week, we have been studying William Blake poetry, and discussed how a lot could be perceived from the title of the poems we had read so far; poems from the collection 'Songs of Innocence'. A poem called 'The Lamb' was about a lamb, and one called 'The Little Black Boy' was being told by a little black boy. A piece titled 'The Chimney Sweeper' was about chimney sweepers, and the poem titled 'Infant Joy' was about a happy new-born. Simple, straight-forward titles.

I think of how Blake has used titles and think of other titles I've seen and what can be said about the text they belong to. 'Hush, Hush' by Becca Fitzpatrick is about a human girl's romance with a fallen angel, and Tony Scott's film 'Man on Fire' is about an alcoholic body-guard and child abduction in Latin America. The titles are intriguing, but don't have much at all to do with the stories they are attached to. I enjoyed both the titles and the stories attached to these texts.

So what do you like in a title as far as relation to the story goes? 

- Bonnee.

18 comments:

  1. I like a title, much similar to good album titles, to catch the eye, suggest a theme but not give anything away in terms of plot. And if it is used in a small, significant moment of the text, all the better. But honestly, I think the title is something more important to publishing and marketing and is useless if you don't have an amazing text to begin with.

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    1. Very true; what good is an awesome title if the text that follows is a let down?

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  2. I agree somewhat with Greg. If the title gives away most of the plot of the book then what's the point? I like titles to be related to the book, but not so much that it takes away from my reading experience.

    This post reminds me of the original name of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. The plot is quite mysterious, and for a long time you don't know what is happening. Her original title was The Strike, but I'm so glad she was convinced to name the book something different, otherwise the title would have given the entire plot away! Titles really do make a difference in some cases.

    Great post as usual, Bonnee!

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    1. Thanks Fiona! I haven't read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but this is a good example of bettering a title. I wouldn't say that the ENTIRE plot would have been given away by a title like The Strike. We would have known that a strike of some description occurs, but we still don't know who's involved or why or how it's all resolved... Then you have stuff like the Harry Potter titles; each book is named after a central thing to the plot, but we don't know anything about what that thing actually is. *continues rambling senselessly about titles and plots...*

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  3. I try to base most of my titles on infomercials. But, then, I read titles from James Lee Burke like "A Stained White Radiance" or "The Glass Rainbow" and hide my head in shame.

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    1. I'll say that "The Glass Rainbow" is a pretty awesome title. :) Why infomercials, Rick? What is it about them that makes you want to base a title on them?

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  4. I pay less attention to titles, and more to book covers. There is a trend now in YA fiction to have titles of one word. Didn't find one word for the title of my YA fiction. From what I've read in all cases, publishers make the decision about the title, so the titles that we give to our own novels are unlikley to be used. But from all the titles you listed above, I like HUSH HUSH.

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    1. Never judge a book by it's cover! But it's okay, I do that a lot too. Some one word titles can be really effective, like Elizabeth Norris's recent book "Unraveling". I haven't read it yet, but the title AND the cover together, make me with I had a copy with me already! From the cases you've heard about publishers, do they take the original title into consideration when deciding on the title to release the book with?

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    2. From what I understand they don't care about your title and your input. The Marketing department makes the decision about the Title and the Cover according to what they think will sell the best. But we shouldn't mind really. There is another blog with some young people in publishing and editing there. You can follow them and when somone from publishing/editing post, ask them this question.

      www.publishingcrawl.com

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    3. Hmm I think they would at least consider it and only disregard it if they didn't think it would work best. Anywho, I'll ask, thanks for the link :)

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  5. Hey,

    I love coming up with titles - but maybe 'cos its always been easy for me... when I worked in newspapers... it was so much fun seeing how hokie I could get with the title and the subject :)

    PS... Thanks so much for your kind comments re. Memorial Day. It meant a lot :)

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    1. I enjoy title brainstorming... often I'll come up with a cool title with no story for it, and then think of something cool based on the title. Either way, it's fun! :)

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  6. I dont have to comment, Greg said exactly what I was thinking!!

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    1. I guess great minds think alike :)

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  7. I agree with Greg as well. I'm not very good with titles it's something I need to work on.

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    1. It's an art that requires a bit of practice. Brainstorming is always a good way to start in my opinion. Thanks for your comment :)

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  8. A literal title is fine. But a title that captures the feel of a book or points out a layer in a poetic way is also cool.

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