Flash fiction has a limited number of words,  and therefore every word is like a nugget of gold.  Don’t overlook one of your best opportunities for adding meaning without adding to the word count: Your title! 

Let’s exchange ideas on what we think makes a good title, how you can best utilize a title to enhance your story or make it memorable.  

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
3 months ago

Good topic, and very timely. I had a little trouble voting for my favorite Wings stories, because so many of the titles included the word “Wing” or “Wings”, but not many clues to differentiate one from the other. I kept opening the same stories to remember the details. I liked the title “There Are Wings and There Are Wings” – that one was unforgettable! I wonder about other titles from past contests that have survived the test of time. Why were they so good? I look forward to contemplating this idea and returning with more input! I also look forward to hearing everyone else’s ideas.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
3 months ago
Reply to  Fuji

Actually, I thought there were surprisingly few stories with ‘wings’ in the title. One of mine, the Leonardo da Vinci one, did. The other didn’t. With my LdV one, I knew as soon as I saw the prompt what I wanted to write about, and the title just felt fitting for the man as well as the story and came before the story itself, which I think Emily will attest ?

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
3 months ago

I think that the title is important, no matter the length of the story, be it micro fiction or novel. The title is one of the first things you see. Some of the one word titles annoy me because they don’t generally tell you much about the story, and the number of books out there with title like ‘Taken’, ‘Marked’, ‘Fated’ etc is just crazy and, unless you know the author’s name, it can make it really hard when doing a search for it online. I recently extended one of my short stories after posting a 100 word one in the ‘Different’ competition. It was called ‘The Perfect Job’ then. Now it is around 3800 words snd called ‘Migglesworth Malevolence’, which is a bit of a descriptor. Haven’t seen anything else with that title yet! Would anyone be tempted to pick up a book with that title?

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
3 months ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

I think Carrie the first thing a title should do it to arouse the interest to what the story may be, so if ”One Word” does the trick, then that is all that is needed, for then we can go to the ”Preface. If you let the ”One Word Title” annoy you, then you will probably miss out on reading a good story ?. So one word or more is it really that important?

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe

I didn’t say I don’t or wouldn’t read them; I’ve read at least 6 called ‘Taken’, at least 4 ‘Hunted’ etc. If someone a few years down the line asks me if I’ve read ‘Taken’, I have that ‘which one’ moment and all the plots roll into one. So for me, I like a title that is a little more memorable.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
3 months ago

Title Versus Picture! Just think for a second before you say, that’s not the question Eric. Before we read the story, we try to see/guess the connection between the two. But the title to my mind is the one that will Intrigue the reader. The question then is, how much of the story do we give away ? in the title?

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian (@lydia-e-atzemian)
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe

Hmm. To me titles are of course important but I’m more of a visual person. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” then why is the cover there then? To judge it! I’ve always been like that. To me book covers are very important. They don’t have to be necessarily gorgeous since beauty is subjective, but just to showcase personality and be unique. Of course if i’ve heard a book is great i’ll trust that opinion and pick it up no matter the cover but if am browsing, admittedly, even though I probably won’t pick up a book with a lame title the visuals will play a more dominant role. For instance if the book has a beautiful eye-caching sketch of a tiger in the cover and it’s called “Tiger” even though the tile doesn’t really give away too much and isn’t particularly different or creative i’ll definitely pick it up, not necessarily buy it, but look into it. On the contrary if it’s a plain white book titled “That One Grandma Who Died Twice” even though it sounds like something I would like to read I probably wouldn’t have noticed it while browsing in the bookstore to even get… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Lydia E Atzemian
Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago

My title often changes several times as I work on a story. Eric makes a good point, we want to ensure the title is interesting and will draw a reader in but we don’t want to give too much away. It’s a fine line.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
3 months ago

Here in Australia I have been producing a monthly print magazine for poetry and prose for 18 years and each month hold a mini-competition for short stories up 100 words, poetry up to 10 lines using a special word prompt each month. I am always surprised at how many entrants simply use the prompt word as the title – often 50% and many others use the word combined with others. I like to see an intriguing title as long as it doesn’t give the story (or poem content) away.
For me, sometimes the ‘perfect’ title just comes, before, during or after writing the piece but at other times it can be so frustrating to have a story or poem I’m really happy with but without a name (bit like that newborn that doesn’t fit the names you’ve been considering!). I search quotes or google a few key words to get ideas and often something comes 🙂

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills-2)
3 months ago

I guess a title can be a flash of inspiration, just like a novel, an essay, a poem or anything else one writes. Sometimes, the title comes naturally and immeditely, while at other times, one has to reflect, read the product again and again and find the crucial, pivotal point that moves the narrative. The title for my latest story, ‘Staring at the Sun’ came to me when I wrote that all was left for Icarus to do was staring at the sun. At that exact moment, ‘Staring at the Sun’ by U2 came on the radio. I do believe in serendipity…

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Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago
Reply to  Greene M Wills

What a great story of serendipity, Greene. I do think that was a brilliant title. I always remembered the exact story when glancing through the titles. If the title had been something like “To Fly”, which would have also fit, I wouldn’t have remembered the story nearly so well.

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago

Believe it or not, this may sound overly simplistic, but go with the first one that comes to mind. This has worked well for me. Don’t let overthinking, or putting unnecessary pressure on yourself take away from the piece you have written. I seem to be in the minority that comes up with a title before the story itself… But, I tend to think that is a clear sign that the story was meant to be! If I mess with the title after completion it changes the whole feel of the story, that’s just my opinion.

Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago

I take a very different approach, Melissa. I usually create a “working title”, a sort of place holder, but I never settle on the actual title until the story has simmered for a while, telling me its secrets, sharing its depth. I frequently spend more time on the title than on the story itself! With flash fiction and especially micro-fiction, the title is so very important, to me it deserves a great deal of thought.

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago
Reply to  Juma

This is what I like learning about. Everyone takes a different path in their creative processes. I agree the title is extremely important . I just come up with the title first and build a story off of that. It’s how I’ve always done it, I have found success in that. Again, it’s just a route that works for me, personally. ?

Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago

I totally agree with you Melissa – your method has served you well. It seems that you imagine a scenario in your very descriptive titles, then fill in the details via the story. It’s exciting how we all follow different paths, to arrive at similar places! Here’s to our wonderful Differences!

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago
Reply to  Juma

You hit the nail on the head, Juma! I do imagine scenarios. I love hearing from others and what works for them. The end result is amazing written works.

Everyone on this lovely sight is so talented. ❤️

Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago

There have been many times when I made my titles work overtime, so to speak, especially with the 100 word stories. One such instance was my story “An Old Man Remembers the Blitz”. I wanted the time and place to be specific – London, World War II, but I didn’t want to waste any words of the story to establish that. Background and factual references also would have been out of place in the nostalgic, dreamy atmosphere. So I put it all in the title. The title to that story could just as well have been “If Only”, but then the bombs could have been dropped last week in a hundred different parts of the world. I was very happy with that particular title, even though it took me a while to come up with it!

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
3 months ago

One-word titles may or may not work well in the hundreds of thousands of books on Amazon or at a big book store, but some of them work extremely well in our Voice.club collection. Eric’s “Longed” was a title that had me intrigued for quite a while. I kept rereading his very excellent story to see if I could figure out where the title had come from. The prompt for that story was “Gold”, and Eric finally told us all that the title was an anagram for “Golden”. What a brilliant move that was! It made the story even more unforgettable. More words in the title would have ruined it. The only downside to that title is that when I do a Voice.club search for “Longed”, I find 11 matches. A small price to pay, though, for such a creative title.

Last edited 3 months ago by Fuji
Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago
Reply to  Fuji

Here’s another one-word title that I remember very well from quite a while ago in these contests – “Baptism”. The story was beautifully written, sensitive and caring, full of the deepest kind of love. The title told us so much about the character and his feelings for his wife. I’ve just never forgotten that story, largely because of the title.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago

I remember the first story I submitted to voice-club that the judges kindly voted a runner up. I was forced to change my original title as the software wouldn’t accept an apostrophe. The judges commented that they really liked the title so perhaps sometimes things are just meant to be!

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago
Reply to  Voice-Team

Thank you, that’s useful to know. My story was ‘From Darkness She Will Rise’, the original title was ‘She’s not dead, only resting’. I much prefer the new title so it was a good outcome for me!

Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago
Reply to  Linda Rock

You’re right, Linda – your new title is much better than the original! In fact, that title is one of the best ones ever. I remember loving the name of your story when you first posted it. What a great Halloween moment that was. ?

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago
Reply to  Juma

Aww thank you Juma. Yes, that first title was definitely not one of my best! I like to think I’ve improved since then!

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago

My creative process with titles goes something like this: I take pictures of mundane and innate things. I give a title to the picture, next I write a story around it. I have screenplays written from these very pictures, the kind of pictures nobody else would be bothered to take. ?

I will explain to people that there is not a one size fits all approach to writing, and title making . It takes practice to find what works best for you!

Last edited 3 months ago by Melissa Taggart

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Juma
Juma (@juma)
3 months ago

That is so interesting, Melissa! You must be an avid photographer. I loved your black and white, or grey tone picture of the deserted tables and chairs. It was such a stark picture of Covid. I hope you will post more of your pictures!

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago
Reply to  Juma

Thanks, Juma! I am just a novice but I do like to take uncommon pictures. ?

Daisy Blacklock
Daisy Blacklock (@daisy-blacklock)
3 months ago

For me, a good title contains the unusual. A good title will draw me in. It will give me questions. It will get me wondering about the story. I have seen so many brilliant titles on voice.club. This is such a wonderful topic to discuss.

Eduardo Olivares
Eduardo Olivares (@eduardo-olivares)
3 months ago

We need to be accurate but persuasive. Obvious must be avoided at all times. Titles are like children’s names: they will return to you with mighty power but only if you dare to pick the best ones.  ? 

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
3 months ago

Interesting topic! Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts of how you think and work when it comes to putting a title on your story. I agree with Voice.club that it is important.
I tend to function in the same way as Greene, Linda and Juma. When I start out, I always put a working title above the text just to get started. If I would wait to start writing until I have a good name for the story, I probably wouldn’t get any further.
Inspiration to me means that ideas start flowing when I have patience to stay on my butt and with the story for a very long time. When I feel that the story is starting to take shape and feel good, ideas start flowing and then a title often appears out of the blue, as a fruit that first needs to ripen. Since I don’t know beforehand which kind of “fruit” it will be, I also cannot “feel” what the title is going to be until I have become familiar with the story.
However, I try to avoid using the theme-word in my titles since I suspect that several other writers will do it.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago

For me, the title is my first impression. It always hooks my interest to read the content of the story. Something short and unique – a title that creates an impact and makes it memorable to me as a reader.

sake of vanity
sake of vanity (@sake-of-vanity)
3 months ago

A good title – to me, at least – primarily revolves around the premise of the story. Preferably, it should walk the line between obscurity and discernment; while being direct and straightforward has its perks, a title with mystery has greater intrigue, and can likely entice a reader more. A plain-spoken example would probably be… The Chronicles of Narnia… which in its rare case, is perfect – since its basis of adventure is well-suited, with its recurrent theme lasting all throughout; but if it weren’t a series, then I’d honestly second guess it. Consistency is key. Anyway~ a title should be memorable, so pull the reader in with elegance and promise. Leave them a taste – an appetiser, if you will – and keep them coming for seconds. Perhaps don’t have your character’s name take up the title, as it can be a little bland (but take my suggestions lightly! ~the freedom of a title isn’t really limited to anything) , but just grab a passerby’s attention, and you’ve got a good title! The shorter, the better, in my opinion. I know long titles can also work, but upon a first glance, readers tend to gravitate towards a hooking three-worder… Read more »

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei (@margarida-brei)
4 days ago

I believe that titles should hook the reader. They should intrigue us in a mysterious way into reading the fiction.

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