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Packing Heat 103: Titles

Packing Heat is a podcast I've been putting out since 2008. My goal is to help other writers stay motivated, and to encourage them to take their writing to the next level. You don't need special gadgets to listen; Packing Heat plays in your browser, like YouTube. Or you can subscribe (and leave me glowing feedback) at iTunes!

Longtime Packing Heat listener Silver is graduating. Yay!
Hemovore came out in paperback last week. Yay!

Blows My Mind
This lecture by Merlin Mann blew my mind. 1 hour, 22 minutes and worth every second of my time. In fact, I'm gonna listen again.
It's about time and attention, and why organization for productivity's sake doesn't address core issues.

Who Moved My Brain? http://www.43folders.com/2010/04/27/impro-talk

I'm shocked that I haven't done a podcast on titles yet. After a few years of hit-or-miss titling, I've formed a few rules for myself for titling new work.

I'm using the fake example "Pain" for this exercise.

One-word title
No more of this. They're too forgettable. Pain by Jordan Castillo Price does have a nicer ring to it than many, but in general, I plan to steer clear from single-word titles so I don't end up with another Secrets on my hands.

Vague title
Painful Memories
These titles are so focused on trying to convey thematic elements of the work that marketability elements such as catchiness are sacrificed.

Cliche title
No Pain, No Gain
These are also forgettable, because they're cliche. Chances are that they're already way overused, too.

Obvious title
Pain's Master
Obvious titles are blah. They're not catchy and they don't fire the imagination of the reader.

So what's a writer to do? Here's how to break those rules.

Intriguing, Unique One-word Title
Hemovore falls into that category, as might a book named after a main character, or a book named after a medicine, holiday, disease or some other interesting term in the story.

Twist on the Cliche
There's the TV Show Better off Ted, or perhaps No Pain, No Brain for a zombie book. Merlin Mann's lecture above is a play on the famous Who Moved My Cheese? business book.

Combine two or more interesting words
Pain Magnet, or Pain Factory, combine unpretentious words in such a way that they begin to tell a mini-story and hook readers in to read the book blurb.

Even more great ideas were provided by my LJ pals here
Sarah Black's Vindaloo and the T-Bird gets the title gold star from me!

Your Assignment
Create five new titles for whatever you're working on now (whether or not you already have a title! The purpose is to stretch.)

1. A single, made up word
2. A rhythmic title
3. Another rhythmic title (I want you to do two because these are the catchiest)
4. A random title from a poem, Google search or dictionary
5. A twist on a common expression

Listen online, appx 24 minutes

Or subscribe to Packing Heat in iTunes!


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm still a fan of 'Untitled'
Ali is the one that came up with 'Sandalwood & a Potato'
Pretty sure I wanted Untitled ;o)
May. 11th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
Maybe someday a plot bunny will hit you where 'Untitled' is the perfect real title.

I just now thought of art--or maybe it's music--where the piece is untitled...but then they go and also put the title beside it. Like this:

Untitled (a study in blue) or
Untitled (The Car Crash)

You know Ali really tickled my fancy with Sandalwood & a Potato! Kickass title.
May. 11th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
Ali did a great job with that title
It did grab one's attention
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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