I must admit to a difficult time thinking of titles. Most of my work at the beginning has a very bland and often generic title, simply because the computer needs a title to save the work. I do have autumn 1, autumn 2 etc...not to mention many poems that simply have a date as a title. Perhaps it would be better to say these are working titles.
29/05/12 is such a catchy title isn't it? Makes you really want to read it....
But when I do send my work out, not only do I edit, re-read and work on the pieces to make them the best I can, I work very hard on the title. Because this is the first thing an editor/publisher/ reader sees. And we do want it to stand out from the crowd, to grab attention.
Every time I open a short story collection or a book of poetry I read the contents page. Looking for a title that grabs my attention, that makes me smile, makes me ponder, wonder what that is about.
I'm sorry but having a poem entitled UNTITLED is a bit of a cop out. I am left thinking if the poet didn't find the effort to work out a title, should I make the effort to read it.
I do find titles very elusive. Just when I think I've got one by the tail, it does a flip and slides out of my hands. And I can't work like a few writers I know who come up with the most amazing title first, then write something to work around it. I know several writers who are so enamoured with their titles, that even when the finished work bears no resemblance to it at all, they still cling to it. It is after all such a great title. Too good to give up.
So what exactly does a title do? For me a title is an opener. It should in some way reflect what I am about to read. It shouldn't be a give away but it should have some connection to the poem/story/novel/article.
Like so much that deals with writing, it's to be learnt. Think what title best represents your work, what will make it stand out....what will make people remember it. (Had a woman in the library yesterday asking for the story about the horse, you know. War horse? Black beauty? Phar Lap? Black Caviar? It was none of these and she will be back, with the title, eventually...)
I doubt if any of these authors had this title in mind when they began with that first hesitant pencil mark on paper. But these are titles we all know, all respond to.
So here's to titles....and to thinking of one beyond UNTITLED.....