Titles: A Crash Course

Ah, titles. You either love them or hate them. There’s no in-between. You come up with a story, and the perfect title may drop right in your lap. Other times, you may spend hours agonizing over what one-to-five-word statement is just the thing to encompass your work.

I can only offer limited advice, because the title of a work ultimately is determined by the author’s preference. However, I can give some tips on making a title that will attract your intended audience.

-Tip 1: Think about what your fanfiction’s genre is. Is it a fluffy romantic piece? An angst-ridden tragedy? Is it meant to be a funny story that will get the readers spitting soda onto their screens?

Your fanfiction’s genre should have some impact on what its title ends up being. Imagine a passionate romance taking place in a fantasy setting with dragons. What title sounds better? “The Brimstone Age,” or “My Burning Heartbeat?”

Granted, you may think that both of those titles suck, but you probably agree that the second title works better with a romantic setting. On the other hand, an epic fantasy about knights and evil dragons would call for a name like “The Brimstone Age,” rather than the other title.

Don’t try to mislead your readers with a baiting title. If they start reading your fic and don’t get what they thought they’d be getting, odds are that they’ll not only stop reading that fic, but also not bother reading anything else you’ve written.

-Tip 2: Don’t put your description in the title.

Too many new writers, myself included in my early days, make the mistake of putting things into the title that belong in the description. For example, one of my early Ben 10 fanfictions was called “A Change of Heart: A Gwevin Story.” I went back later and cut out “A Gwevin Story,” because it wasn’t needed. The tags already said that it was a romance story, and a story featuring Kevin and Gwen.

Another thing I’ve seen often are titles like: “Bob Falls in Love with Jane.” Boring! Again, the tags will tell readers who falls in love with who, as will your description. A title is meant to attract attention. Then, the description will provide additional information.

-Tip 3: Make it clever and catchy!

Think about what your story is about, and think of an image or idea that stands out. Then, think of a creative way to express that idea. It’s hard to explain exactly how to do this, as every story is different, as is every writer, so I’ll just describe my thought process in creating one of my story titles.

My RWBY fic, “Once in a Shattered Moon,” got its title from several factors. It’s a werewolf AU, making the moon an obvious image that can be used.

In the RWBY universe, the moon is shown to be shattered in the sky. Instead of cleanly rotating through its cycles, it’s shown with pieces drifting away, depending on what stage it’s in.

Finally, I took the phrase “once in a blue moon,” referring to an event that hardly ever happens. Since this fanfiction takes place in a world where werewolves and humans hate each other, a human and werewolf falling in love over the course of the fic can be seen as a nearly-impossible event in that setting.

So, out of all that, I ended up with the title: “Once in a Shattered Moon.” Pretty cool, right?

Remember, a title is the very first thing a reader will see when looking at your fanfiction. Make sure it packs a punch.

Peace out!

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