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dverselogo‘You can not judge a book by its cover,’

How often have we heard that? Often it is true, I have found some wonderful reads hiding behind some poorly planned covers & some pretty terrible titles—but, the whole purpose of a cover or title is to grab the attention of the reader—to get them to give you a chance.

Last week at OpenLinkNight a conversation started in the comments about creative titling…or really a request to spend a little time talking about how to title a poem or story. So let’s talk…

A few things I know:

People will decide to read based on a title..if the title is boring, why should I read further.

The title can add much to a poem. The title can even be a line in the poem, as mine was for Poetics on Saturday.

When I write a title it is the last thing I do before publishing. I usually look over the story or poem and try to think of what the poem needs—a nudge to open it up or even share my own perspective on the piece.

Another thing I look at is what I want to accentuate in the piece. Sometimes I try to think of another metaphor, not related to the poem itself, but to the subject. If it is a poem about marriage and I used farm animals as the metaphor in the verse, I may either play off the animals (as I did for this article) or I may think of another way to view marriage and tie the two together:

Swine & Roses…ha, okay, that is pretty terrible…but i would probably write it in my notebook as it might help me come up with something better.

Maybe I use the title to bring out a secondary message in the poem.

Look at the title as if it were your elevator pitch…you have seconds to convince a publishing house to take your book….what would you say in 30 seconds to make the difference.

You have less time than that with a title…so in 3 or 4 words what can you say to get me to read further? …sum up the story? …give me something to look forward to finding in your words?

Don’t write a great piece and give it a terrible title because you don’t think it is important, your laziness or carelessness can cost you readers.

Ok, this is not all about me…tell me your thoughts on title-ing. What challenges do you have title-ing a piece? What are some of your more creative titles? How do you come up with a title?

See you back here tomorrow, 3 PM EST — for OpenLinkNight.  ~Brian