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Ruan Mills Burke

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The Learning Curve
by Ruan Mills Burke   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, June 27, 2011
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011

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A title in dispute (400 words)


What’s in a title?

I am intrigued to know what it is that draws a reader to a particular piece, be it poem, article, story or book.

I have been experimenting with titles to see if they actually need to be relevant to the piece or not. It would seem that the only real function of a title is either its use as a ‘handle’, something tangible to take hold of (metaphorically speaking), or as a label by which the piece is identifiable amongst others by the same author.

If I were to entitle this article - “Confessions of a Naughty Girl” - it would I am sure, receive so many visitors that any site it was attached to would probably be rendered panic-stricken.   Of course, it may not be read in its entirety by every visitor, but it would draw an enormous amount of initial attention.  

If, on the other hand, I were to simply entitle it - “Writing a Title” - people’s initial reaction would probably be - “BOR-ING!” – And it would get little or no attention at all.

Okay, so a good title must be eye catching and motivate interest. It needs specially chosen words to instigate an element of excitement and intrigue, which in turn provokes the potential reader into exploring further. The object of the exercise is to virtually ‘draw a crowd’. When we go to buy a newspaper, do we select the one that headlines news we have already read, or do we go for the one that captures our attention with something exciting and new?

Those that know” have told me, coming up with the right one is never easy. Slapping on just any title might not be in the best interest of the piece if it does not pack the necessary punch.  I have discovered for myself that there is frequently a big difference between the working title and the public title. I don’t know how many times I have chosen my title only to change it in the end - because although it made perfect sense to my thought processes as the writer - it made little or no sense when read as a reader. After all, the title holds the first words any reader will read when it comes to your work, the headline (if you will). They have no preconception of what your work is offering.  

It seems that almost everyone likes a play on words, so maybe creating a little irony just to fire the senses... or maybe a variation on a comedic paraphrase could be brought into play...


Whatever we decide on as a title to our precious product, I am fairly certain that it does not necessarily need to be subject appropriate.  I am still investigating the possibilities.

 A week later...

As part of my experiment, I listed this article under three different titles for just 24 hours each... 
The Learning Curve = 14 hits 
Titillating Tales of a Tardy Title = 26 hits 
Confessions of a Naughty Girl - 45 

...speaks for itself. lol 





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