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“Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead.” by Joan Y. Edwards
This is Day 4 of the Why Not series. I hope you’re enjoying it and learning a little, too.
Let’s say, you’ve written all the paragraphs you plan to write about the subject at hand. You may have written a draft title. You want to check out your title for three things:
- Is it meaningful in view of the words you’ve written?
- Does it capture the mood, mystery, and attention of the readers?
- Can it be said in fewer words and still capture the attention of your readers so that they want to read your words to discover what you have to say, what your story is, who your characters are, and how things go in the world you describe.
How many words does a good title have? Let’s check it out.
52 Oscar-Winning Movies from 2012-2015
In the Oscar Winning Movies from 2012-2015, there were:
24 one-word winners: Room, Amy, Spectre, Stutterer, Birdman, Whiplash, Boyhood, Intersteller, Ida, Selma, Citizenfour, Feast, Gravity, Frozen, Her, Helium, Argo, Lincoln, Skyfall, Amour, Paperman, Brave, Inocente, Curfew
11 two-word winners: The Revenant, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Bear Story, American Sniper, Still Alice, Blue Jasmine, Mr. Hublot, Les Miserables, Diango Unchained, Anna Karenina
14 three word winners: Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight, Son of Saul, The Imitation Game, Big Hero 6, The Phone Call, Dallas Burgers Club, The Great Gatsby, The Great Beauty, Life of Pi, Zero Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty,
4 four-word winners: The Great Budapest Hotel, 12 Years a Slave, 20 Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugar Man
1 five-word winner: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
2 nine-word winners: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Top 52 Fiction New York Best Sellers in 2015
I placed a link to the 2015 New York Times Best Sellers in the resources. Curiosity got me. I tested the titles to find out if this rule holds true for fiction novel titles, too. I chose the top 52 titles since there were 52 Oscar-winning movies.
5 one-word titles – Revival, Fangirl, Fallen, Burned, Torment
23 two-word titles – The Nightingale, Gone Girl, Orphan Train, The Goldfinch, Sarah’s Key, Gray Mountain, Sycamore Row, Memory Man, The Escape, Leaving Time, The Selection, Paper Towns, Station Eleven, Golden Son, Carry On, Finders Keepers, First Frost, Hush Hush, Dead Heat, Saint Odd, World After, Defending Jacob, Red Queen,
12 three-word titles – Me Before You, Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret, The Rosie Effect, What Alice Forgot, Before I Go, Edge of Eternity, The Rosie Project, The Boston Girl, The Burning Room, The Bone Clocks, Obsession in Death
5 four-word titles – The Invention of Wings, All the Single Ladies, In the Unlikely Event, Our Souls at Night, Mightier Than the Sword
3 five-word titles – The Girl on the Train, The Fault in Our Stars, A Spool of Blue Thread
4 six-word titles – All the Light We Cannot See, Be Careful What You Wish for, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I believe there is a power in three and the power of one. Think of the fairy tales. They used the power of three: The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Three seems finished in our minds. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
It could also be power in the number of syllables: Many of the two word novel titles had three syllables.
The power of one:
- Jake had only one fault.
- She was the only person left.
- I had only one chance to live.
So when you’re choosing a title, choose the fewest words with enough oomph to stand the test of the reader’s mind. Will it hook him? Will it catch her interest?
I did a random test and found that many magazine articles and blog posts have more words than the titles of movies or books.
Good luck with your writing. You can do it. I know you can. Have fun with deciding a title for your writing. Read your choices aloud. That might help you make your decision.
The Why Not Series
- “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
- “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
- “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf
- Goodreads. “New York Times Fiction Best Sellers 2015:” https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/83612.NY_Times_Fiction_Best_Sellers_2015
- Joan Y. Edwards. “4 Books to Give You Aha Moments in Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/4-books-to-give-you-aha-moments-in-writing/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/7-ways-to-add-surprise-to-create-a-best-seller-that-readers-crave/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “17 Reasons to Write – Why Do You Write?:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/17-reasons-to-write-why-do-you-write/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “28 Craft Books to Help You Get a Grip on Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/28-craft-books-to-help-you-get-a-grip-on-writing/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “33 Books to Harness the Power within You:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/33-books-to-harness-the-power-within-you/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Add the Power of Three to Your Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/add-the-power-of-three-to-your-writing/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Fascinating Writing Prompts Get Stories Rolling:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/fascinating-writing-prompts-get-stories-rolling/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Grab Your Reader’s Attention – Use Irony:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/grab-your-readers-attention-use-irony/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Think and Say Good Words about Yourself:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/think-and-say-good-words-about-yourself/
- Wikipedia. “List of Academy Award-Winning Films:” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Academy_Award-winning_films
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Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards
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