by Becky Alexander
The first thing a reader sees when you have a piece of poetry or prose published is the title. This will instantly soak into the reader’s mind: will it hook, or will it sink?
I’ve always found titles to be a challenge. They either fly right into my mind perfectly, or I cannot think of one easily. This is where one’s critiquing group can be of great help.
What should a title do, other than to hook the reader?
A title should:
- fit the mood, theme or tone of the written piece;
- offer some clue as to why it was selected; be a bit of a tease;
- not give away the entire plot of the piece;
- not be the first line of the poem (which is a common practice when a writer cannot think of another title: in today’s literary world, this is considered to be a ‘cop out’)
- be fresh and original; e.g.: not The Oak, but something more creative like Mother.
Rules for Writing Titles
Be careful of capitalization in titles;
It was the custom of old to capiatlize every letter in a title. Now, in this cyber age, using capitals is considered to be ‘shouting’;
the first word in a title should be capitalized;
nouns, verbs, adjectives must be capitalized;
articles are not capitalized, unless they are the first word in the title.
So, put on your thinking cap. Let your titles inspire the reader to read.
Becky Alexander is a Cambridge writer. Her work has been published in five countries, and has won hundreds of awards. She runs Craigleigh Press with her husband Dave Allen.