I find it hard to believe that so many horror authors, striving to make some headway in today’s oversaturated marketplace, would title their short stories, story collections and book releases with generic titles. There are 4 million books on Amazon.com. What is going to make a reader purchase your book over another’s?
One of the repeated writing jokes is about the often used cliché for an opening line in a book; It was a dark and stormy night. Every writer knows this opening line has been used more times than a politician spouts the word Freedom, and writers would never start their story with such an overused and clichéd line.
So it shocks me just as much when a horror writer titles his or her work with mundane words such as, the dark night, the dark shadow, the black night, and the dark, black, shadowed night. I see it all the time, decent writers using these pale, cliché, and tired titles for their work. You’re a writer and a creative mind to be reckoned with; you can’t come up with something better than, the dark, the black, or the shadowed ‘something’ in your title?
I have stories in several anthologies per year. I purchase quite a few more out of interest in particular authors, themes and editors. During the year I am faced with reading up to 200 short stories. To me, a cliché boring title is a reflection on the writing itself. I pick and choose which stories I’m going to read in these anthologies. If an author is not going to spend the time and brain power to think of an exciting, enticing title for his story, why would I think his story and writing would be any better?
I’ll often use a simple word or two as a ‘working’ title for my story while writing it. However, before I send it out to a publisher or editor, I will as spend a few days thinking about the title. Writers often work on their opening sentence, developing a hook, something to pique the reader’s interest and entice them to read on. But the first sentence in a story is the second place to ‘hook’ your reader. The TITLE is the FIRST! The title is the first thing a potential reader will see. It is often the deciding factor of whether they will read the story or not.
So come on all you horror writers, pull up them boot straps, click that creative brain into high gear, and give me some interesting story titles! Your stories deserve to be read; don’t pass up on the first and foremost opportunity to hook the reader.
Michael Thomas-Knight haunts the local coffee shops of Long Island, NY, somewhere between a famous house in Amityville and Joel Rifkin’s lovely home. Michael’s style ranges from classic ghost stories to atmospheric Eldritch tales steeped in mysticism, cynicism, and irony. He has over 50 horror short stories published in magazines, web-zines, and print anthologies, Check out his latest published works at his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/michaelthomasknight