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Red Right Hand: TITLE
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



Not just a generic post, I just don't have anything really great I want to write about at the moment, so I'm going to go on a bit about titles.

I dig titles. I really like a good, clever title. I like that in TV you can pretty much title an episode anything you want because it's not a marketing factor.

Some favorite titles? A few that come to mind are...

"7A WF 83429"
"Jose Chung's From Outer Space"
"Bop Gun"
"The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco"
"Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found The Gnostic Gospels"

I like them for different reasons, some for the way they relate to the story, some not. I like unusual titles, such as numbers, lengthy titles, double-meaning titles. I dig the Nag Hammadi one because it actually serves a function within the story in a peculiar way. And still others just sound good. I like to say "Bop Gun."

That's something I like about Gilmore Girls titles. There's no rules there at all. I also remember back in the days of the X-Files ' popularity, lost of discussion about the obscure references in some of that shows titles. "Dod Kalm"

Other shows, seem to have some hard and fast rules about titles. Every Smallville is one word. La Femme Nikita had as many words as the season they were in. Too bad they got cancelled, if for any reason that they'd be up to their tenth season about now. Others may not have rules, but there's a definite feel to the titles. Nip/Tuck...the names. Friends was always "The One With..." And, of course, Remington Steele always had Steele in the title, whether it really worked or not.

I spend a lot of time on titles. I don't generally even like to start until I have a title. I know some writers are just the opposite for fear of constraints. To me, a title is more like a guide rail. A flimsy guide rail. It'll keep me on track, but if the story is going somewhere I didn't really plan on, I've no problem kicking it to the curb. Occasionally, I've got nothing but a title . A Nip/Tuck spec I recently benched started with just the title "Jane Doe" and I went from there.

I also like to come up with titles that have meaning within the A, B and if needed C plots. For that reason, I have changed the title of the Medium spec I recently finished something like nine times in the last few days and might change more in the future. And Medium titles have been all over the place, from deadly serious to ridiculously silly. Lately, they've been just a couple of words, usually playing off a saying in some way. Kinda dull, but I think matching the title style just further shows that you did your homework.

There are certain titles I hate. I hate titles that end in "-tion." I hate titles that could be applied to ANY story (which the Medium had most of the time I was writing it). I don't mind one word titles, but a lot of one word titles feel too...ehn, you know. One word works and another, not so much.

I came up with some titles for the Medium that I think spelled out the plot so clearly that a reader put it to the bottom of the pile because it seemed so obvious. I even had a couple that I thought spelled out the plot of a different story.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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