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Say My Name: Titles

Banes at 12:00AM, March 15, 2018

Say My Name

There are titles that fit perfectly with their subject, titles that could fit multiple subjects/contexts, and titles that don't work at all.
Recently I've seen several titles referenced that made me say “I HAVE to see that/read that!”.

A title can be handy if it tells you exactly what a piece of work is: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Jay's Internet Fight Club. The 40 Year Old Virgin.

I like titles like that. An actual statement of what you're getting, usually with a suggestion of the tone you'll be getting.

The title can also be a NAME. Probably the main character's name (though not always). Dracula. Superman. Archie. Forrest Gump. Charby the Vampirate. Calvin & Hobbes. Pinky TA.

A common, and interesting title can be an ASPECT of the story, that suggests a tone: JAWS. TREMORS. SCREAM. It's kind of neat how JAWS and TREMORS are very similar types of titles for very similar movies. Halloween and Friday the 13th, too.

Similarly, an unusual word or phrase can be cool. It's the kind of thing that makes a reader or viewer want to know what it means. This is a riskier approach, but can help a work stand out and remain memorable/recommendable with its unusual moniker: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Transneptunian. The Godstrain. The Silence of the Lambs.

Riskiest of all could be the “play on words” or “joke” title. These can be eye-catching, but could potentially lose their charm with repeated or extended exposure: The Santa Clause, Monster-In-Law, Chopping Mall, A Million to Juan, or The Earth, A Small Man, his Dog and a Chicken (that was an REO Speedwagon album).

Then there are phrases that could mean anything, and are potentially too vague. Sometimes they work, sometimes not: For Love or Money, Oblivion, From the Earth to the Moon, Diamonds are Forever, Something's Gotta Give.

A good title should either give some information on what it's about, or the tone of a piece of work, or promise SOMETHING, or create some kind of question or intrigue…or all of the above, if possible.

The title that caught my eye recently is for an anime. I don't know anything about it, but the title made me laugh and I'm going to have to watch it:
I couldn't become a hero, so i reluctantly decided to get a job
This promises a certain type of hero I think, and a certain kind of tone. I want to see it! I wonder if it'll be any good…

What are your favorite/least favorite titles? How do you go about finding titles for your work? What makes a killer title?

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ozoneocean at 6:19PM, March 15, 2018

"Unlife is unfair" is a pro level title. I'd expect a hollywood movie to be called that.

Amelius at 12:16PM, March 15, 2018

(continued) though I think my later things have had better titles, I was quite pleased with "Unlife is Unfair" (a quote that appeared in CTV before I started UIU) "Here There Be Monsters" (a CTV sister series about the monster hunters of Kellwood)and "A Bird In The Hat". I think being easy to recall is more important than fitting the comic to a T or being super unique, even. You don't want to be so unique people forget (like a made up word an alternate spelling of a common word) or fill it with too many overused words like "Legend of Fate" or "Saga Tales: The Beginning". A play on words that makes people laugh leaves an impression and is good for recall. I saw a comic once called "Dinosaurchestra" which I thought was clever (it never updated beyond character art) so even though nothing came of it, it made enough impression that I remembered it when I later saw the Lemon Demon album they probably nicked the title from! But you know I favor a good portmanteau!

Amelius at 11:46AM, March 15, 2018

Titles can be a hard one, but I think a good rule is to avoid overt pessimism about the quality of your work by demeaning it outright. I've seen a lot of "~pejorative~comic" titles and if it earnestly promises low-quality crap, I'll take it at face value and wonder why they even bothered posting it in the first place! As mentioned, titles named after characters are "sometimes" (emphasis mine) named after the main character, but if you have a rotating ensemble cast like mine it gets confusing when that title character disappears for 70+ pages! I still have no idea what would've been a better title, I just wanted to be the first one in with the word "vampirate" :P

KimLuster at 7:47AM, March 15, 2018

I thought 'Posses Off' was gold!! :)

usedbooks at 7:13AM, March 15, 2018

*pissed off* friggin autocorrect.

usedbooks at 7:12AM, March 15, 2018

Also, I love coming up with chapter titles for Used Books. Usually they are bland but sometimes it's gold. My next arc was written YEARS ago and takes place in a snowstorm where the cold is a factor/antagonist. I called it "Frozen." Then Disney happened, and I was posses off. You took my title, you bastards! I renamed it "Chills." Better title. Thanks, Disney.

KimLuster at 7:00AM, March 15, 2018

Excellent article! I read an article on cracked that talked about certain how movie stars often have a similar title theme for their movies, like Steven Segall's is often some sort of melodramatic statement about the predicament of his character: Marked for Death, Above the Law, Out for Justice, Hard to Kill... Titles are so very important. Right now I'm wrestling with a Godstrain sequel (thanks for the shoutout btw!) and thinking of a good title is adding to the struggle :D

usedbooks at 6:17AM, March 15, 2018

I watched q movie a couple weeks ago because the title caught my eye. "Dave Made a Maze"

usedbooks at 6:15AM, March 15, 2018

Pierce Brosnan's Bond films have some of the worst titles in existence. They are bad titles because you can't remember what movie is what. It's word salad. Die Another Day is the worst of the bad titles because it would have been so easy to name it something both memorable and Bondy. In half a second, I came up with "Project Icarus" and "Diamond Face." Nope, it's Die Another Day because one of the villains got shot in the head in an unmemorable part of the movie and had reconstruction surgery and it is literally the least unique thing (among Bond films) in the movie.

Tantz_Aerine at 2:57AM, March 15, 2018

"The Banes of Our Existence" would be something I'd pick up! :P A title can certainly draw my attention: Court of Roses, Awfully Decent Fellows, Life and Death, The Second Crimean War, and many many more. I usually like the intrigue/arbitrary/symbolic titles for my work. Without Moonlight was chosen in that manner and actually people have found more symbolism than I'd originally come up with, which by the way totally fits! That's always an indication for me that I've chosen well :)

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