I spent some of this autumn reading slush for one of the big fantasy ‘zines. It was overall a great experience. I really enjoyed reading the stories, both because I like stories and also because it was interesting to be “on the other side” for once. To see the non-ending surge of stories and to be delighted when something great came up.
A lot of stories–most of them–were good, (surprisingly so) but most were not specifically good for the market they were intended. Which is a note most writers have gotten. Kind of frustrating on both sides, to have written a good story with no home, and likewise owning a home that must reject most of the good stories that approach it.
At any rate, I learned a bit and, as I say, it was immensely enjoyable. I may blog a few times about this but I’m here today to talk about Titles.
You can’t judge a book by the cover, or at least if you do you are kind of a jerk. Covers don’t come from the author, after all, and are usually made by marketing teams and artists who haven’t even read the book. But the title is an important part of the author’s vision and you can totally judge a book or story by the title.
In reading the 150+ stories , a few kind of Title categories emerged for me. (All titles listed are ones I made up and none are even based on actual stories I read.)
1. Very common were the one word summary of the plot or setting. Things like:
The zoo, Smugglers, Darkness, Forbidden, Grounding
None of the stories I recommended had particularly good titles. Some were about as boring as possible. (ie: The Dragon). If there was a bias, it wasn’t a big one.
But it got me thinking about titles, and what they say about the story they accompany. How important do you think a title is?