Wednesday February 17th, 2010

Titles to Avoid

Over at The Rumpus, Eric Puchner shares some thoughts about coming up with titles for stories. He offers a list of Titles to Avoid, like The Faux Poetic but Authentically Meaningless (“Hunt the Mist Slowly”). And he says the difficulty in the craft is not limited to amateurs:

I’ve seen some jaw-droppingly awful titles, often from very gifted writers. And I’m not just talking about my students: The Great Gatsby is an inspired title, one for the ages, but it wasn’t Fitzgerald’s idea. He wanted to call the novel Trimalchio in West Egg, which sounds like something Dr. Seuss might have dreamed up for The Playboy Channel. An early version of Portnoy’s Complaint was called A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis. At various times, Catch-22 was called Catch-18, Catch-11, Catch-14, and Catch-17. And some classic novels have stood the test of time, despite having terrible titles. (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, for example, never fails to make me giggle.)