How Do I Come Up With a Good Horror Story Title?
The Story is about a girl who’s family moves to a house which is said to be haunted. The Girl is Psychic and automatically knows somethings not right. But at night, these demon monster things torment her, but when she tells her parents, they don’t believe her. Soon, things get worse and weird, mutant animals start coming out of the woods and begin attacking her. That’s as best as i can think of… It may not sound like a horror story, but it will be.
Suggestion by Molly
Titles should not be dull. When you browse a shelf full of novels, or a collection of short stories, aren’t you drawn first to the more unusual titles? So are editors, when they look over a stack of submissions. Not that “The House” or “The Tree” won’t be a good story; but titles with a bit more originality stand a better chance. Examples: Gone with the Wind, The High and the Mighty, “The Tin Star,” The Silence of the Lambs, The Maltese Falcon, Watership Down, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Fahrenheit 451, The Color Purple, Atlas Shrugged.
Titles should be easy to remember. It’s hard to tell a neighbor or a colleague about a story if the title’s too long and complicated, or hard to pronounce. It’s a good idea to keep things clear and simple. You might consider Murder on the Wzcyiubjekistan Express the best writing you’ve ever done, or The Tallahatchie Backroad Honky-Tonk Boogie your literary masterpiece, but I doubt either of them would sell. They probably wouldn’t ever make it out of the editor’s slush pile.
Titles should be appropriate. Don’t name your science fiction story “Trouble at Dodge City” just because that’s what the starfleet crew calls your space station. Editors will think you’ve written a Western. Similarly, Lawrence Block mentions, in one of his books on writing, a Charles McGarry espionage novel called The Secret Lovers. Block says its title (which refers to spies, who love secrets) led some readers to believe it would be a romance instead. Examples of titles that “fit” their subjects: Raise the Titanic, The Firm, “A Rose for Emily,” The Caine Mutiny, Presumed Innocent, Love Story, In Cold Blood, Riders of the Purple Sage, The Amityville Horror.
That should help you narrow the field a bit as you try to decide on the right title for your story. But the question remains: How exactly do you find a good title? Where do you begin your search?
A Few Sources to Jog the Imagination:
A title can be a popular expression. Gone for Good, Something’s Gotta Give, The Horse’s Mouth, The Usual Suspects, Good As Gold, The Whole Nine Yards.
A title can be a play on words. (Sometimes a “twist” of an existing expression.) Burglars Can Be Choosers, The Cancelled Czech, You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, The War Between the Tates, A Hearse of a Different Color.
title can have a hidden meaning, later revealed in the story. The Green Mile, Rain Man, Dances with Wolves, Catch-22, Hearts in Atlantis, Cool Hand Luke, The Shipping News.
A title can come from an existing work. (The Bible, Shakespeare, etc.) The Grapes of Wrath, The Sound and the Fury, The Sun Also Rises, Absalom, Absalom, All That Glitters, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
A title can be a person’s name. Hannibal, Goldfinger, Carrie, Hondo, Rebecca, Doctor Zhivago, Shane, Forrest Gump.
A title can be a place name. Cold Mountain, Cimarron, Peyton Place, Jurassic Park, Lonesome Dove, Mystic River.
A title can be a possessive. Portnoy’s Complaint, Angela’s Ashes, The Optimist’s Daughter, Charlotte’s Web.
A title can be an association of ideas. Often these are words that have a “double meaning,” and refer to more than one thing in a story. The Eye of the Needle, The Dead Zone, Misery, Silver Bullet, Lie Down with Lions.
A title can be an “event” or “activity.” (Use “ing” in the first word.) Pleading Guilty, Romancing the Stone, Waiting to Exhale, “Riding the Bullet,” Raising Helen, Finding Nemo.
A title can be a memorable line from the story itself. To Kill a Mockingbird, Tell No One, Sleepless in Seattle, The Eagle Has Landed, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
A title (if long) can have a “rhythm.” Another kind of “play on words,” this makes a longer title more pleasing to the ear–and easier to remember. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, The Sins of Rachel Cade, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
A title (if it fits the story) can be simple. Jaws, Shogun, Cathedral, The Exorcist, Ragtime, Lolita, Deliverance, Airport, “The Swimmer,” Roots, Centennial, It, The Godfather.
In fact, it has been said that most titles on bestseller lists are no more than three words long. (But they have to be the right words.)
Hope this helps 🙂 Good luck! x
Suggestion by Phire’s Mama
Try writing the story first. You may use one line that suddenly hits you and you say “That would be AWESOME for the title!” or once the majority of the plot is formed, you may find a title to work around the book. In other words, if you can’t come up with a title right now don’t worry about it! When you begin writing the book or have most of it written, it will happen!
Suggestion by Notmyname
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