Facts about Fiction 1

 From The Brain Rummager by Brian Barratt

The Title

Reading like a writer

The title of a story should:

...Grab your attention. You think, "This looks interesting!"

...Arouse your curiosity. You ask yourself, "What is this story about?"


A story title might also:

...Create a sense of mystery: You ask, "What does it mean?"

...Use the same initial letters or use rhyming words. It sounds good when you say it aloud.

...Be a common phrase which you've heard before.

...Put words or ideas together in an unusual way.

...Provide a clue to what the story is about. You don't realise this until the end.

On the other hand, you might look at a title and think, "Ho hum, I don't think I'll bother to read that story".

All that applies to you as a reader. It also applies to you as a writer. If you like writing or want to improve your story writing, there is a rule to follow:

You must read like a writer.

Many readers say, "That story was excellent!" or "That story was boring!" That's fine, but if you are a writer you should be able to explain why you did or did not enjoy it. Reading like a writer means being able to identify and describe:

...The author's style of writing.

...The structure of the story how it started, continued and ended.

...The variety of words and sentences used by the author.

...Exactly what you did or did not "like" about the story.


Here are some titles based on those of stories written by students in Years 7, 8 and 9. Study them and discuss them with someone else. Afterwards, ask yourself some questions about them.

From the Outside Looking In

My Holiday


In the City

Mirror Image

Nightmares can come true

The Road to Recovery

Room 396

The Daily Newspaper

A Lonely Child

The Man Across the Road

The Mansion

William's Worst Week

With Torch and Toothpaste

Ask yourself question such as these:

...Is this title clever?

...Why is it clever?

...Does this title make me want to read the story?

...Why does the title make me want to read the story?

...Does this title make me decide not to read the story?

...Why does the title put me off?

...What might this story be about? Can I predict anything from this title? (You might come up with several different predictions!)

By doing this, you will add to your own strength as a writer. You will realise how important, how valuable, a good title can be.

But I can't think of a title!

If you are given a title and told to write a story for it, there is no problem. If you write about something of your own choice, there could be a problem. You can't think of a good title.

You might write your first draft, do several revisions and redrafts, complete your story, and still not know what to call it. Here's a writer's secret:

The title might be in the last two or three paragraphs.

You might find a phrase, or even a single word, which somehow sums up what the story is about. It might come into that category "Provide a clue to what the story is about. You don't realise this until the end."

You don't have to use the actual phrase or the same word. It might be possible to change it slightly to make a good title. Remember, you are providing a clue, not telling the reader how the story ends.

Copyright 2005 Brian Barratt. This material may be copied or printed only for use by students in school classrooms.

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