Title trouble

January 5, 2011 at 10:41 PM Leave a comment

One thing I find difficult about making a new post if I don’t know what to write about is having to think of the title before the post is written.

Titles are hard anyway. And important, which makes them even harder!

I tend to find titles tricky. Working titles are useful. I expect the title will be the very last thing I write of my thesis, unless I just stick with the boring working title.

I have a peculiar preference for alliterative titles. Most of the working titles of my thesis chapters are alliterative, as was my paper at the Runic Symposium, ‘Portals to the Past‘.

I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m a medievalist. Or maybe I’m just drawn to patterning.

It’s no bad thing though I suppose. Apparently it makes things more memorable.

A novel I was working on a year or so ago is still filed under the miserable moniker of ‘Novel X’. It reached about 12 chapters and it wasn’t due to its lack of a title that I haven’t revisited it for so long. I’ve been writing other things, mostly academic.

Even this blog doesn’t really have a proper title. I did think of calling it ‘To Rune or Knotrune’ but I’m not sure… what do you think?

The problem of having to come up with a title before writing the content is common in academia, as you generally have to submit an abstract first, before writing your paper or conference presentation or poster. The abstract is usually one or two hundred words on what you would write or talk about so the organisers can make their selection.

But if you read about a conference and dash off an idea, by the time you hear back and have to produce the work, you might not like your title, but by then you’re stuck with it. Vague titles have their uses!

And then there are the rogue titles. Titles you think of that sound really good and you’d love to read the book that would go with them, but you are not inspired to write that book, or lack the resources.

My favourite title of a book that most likely nobody would ever write is ‘Plant Psychology’. Although maybe I will use it one day, at least for a short story!

But most titles have already been used for something. Except the really specific academic ones of course. I googled Portals to the Past before using it and it has unsurprisingly been used before, more than once. None of them had the subtitle ‘Distribution Patterns in Stave Church Inscriptions’ though.

If your field is as obscure as mine you can be pretty confident of coming up with a title that is at least unique, and you don’t even have to try too hard.

What about you, do you find titles easy or hard? Any rogue titles you’d care to share? Titles you’ve used that you love, or loathe? Or do you disagree that titles even matter?

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Why blog? The Importance of Skiving

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