Thursday, December 16, 2010

Title Talk

Earlier this fall, I revised an old story about our family excursions to a Christmas Tree lot back in the 1940's. I sent it to Heartwarmer's com and forgot about it. Heartwarmers doesn't let writers know their work was accepted or rejected. They say they're too busy. OK.

But, if and when, a submission is posted on the site, it's a nice surprise. I saw that Heartwarmers newsletter had arrived in in inbox yesterday, but the title of the story meant nothing to me, so I moved on to other more important messages, intending to come back to this one later. Before I could do so, I got a message from a friend who said she'd really enjoyed my story at Heartwarmers story today. More than surprise, it was a shock.

So, I quickly opened Heartwarmers and scrolled down to see my story about Christmas trees. The editors had changed the original title, which is why I didn't recognize it when I saw it. The title I'd used was pretty generic. In fact, it was a working title which never got changed. I'd called "Finding The Right Christmas Tree" which is not a title to draw a reader in very quickly.

The editor at Heartwarmers changed it to "A Pink Dress and Golden Wings" which was a reference  the part of the story that tells of an angel that sat atop our family tree year after year. It's a title that would hook a reader far better than the one I'd given it originally. Sometimes, when editors change things in our work, we cringe, we rage, we feel deflated, but this time it was an excellent change. I was most happy with it and I plan to write to the editor to say so.

It shows what importance a title has. It's the title that first draws a reader, so writers need to pay careful attention to what they select. As I said, the original was a working title. I told myself I'd find a better title later on, but I never did. Seeing the difference between these two titles was an eye-opening experience for me yesterday.

Take a look at some of the stories you haven't been able to sell and consider a title change. Make it a memorable title and the piece just might sell.

If you'd like to read the story, go to  I posted the story at Our Echo because the Heartwarmers newsletter is available only to those who subscribe to it.

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