Some writers can’t seem to create a title until their story is complete. Others often start stories based on a title. Below is an exercise I recommend to help spark the imagination.

Supplies Needed:

1) A variety of magazines (preferably different magazines or journals as opposed to multiple issues of the same one.)

2) A notebook and pen or computer.

3) Some quiet time.

Start by opening one magazine to the table of contents and scan down the titles. Do NOT look at the stories, just the titles. You are looking for a title that can easily be divided in half or a title with two clauses. Take half of one title and write it in a column in your notebook. It can be either the first half or the second half of the title. (Remember, titles are not under copyright protection, so you are doing nothing wrong here.)

Once you have an entire column of phrases, find a different magazine and start a second column with more half titles.  When you have your second list done, scan both columns. Take half of a title from one list and combine it with half a title from the other list. Then write the story.

For example, in Ladies’ Home Journal, I found the title “Science of a Streamlined Marriage”. I wrote down “The Science of”. Then in an issue of Parents, I found the title “How to Raise A Happy Child” and I wrote down “Happy Child”.  When I finished my lists, I chose these two to combine to make “The Science of a Happy Child.”  Then I wrote the article.

This exercise works no matter what genre you are writing. After you choose a title, be sure to keep your lists for future practice.

A similar exercise is to randomly select words from the dictionary, a magazine or other book. Then rearrange them to make a unique title. Happy Writing!

Sylvia Ney resides in southeast Texas with her husband, two daughters and miniature dachshund.

She is a published author who sometimes ghostwrites for others. She has published poetry, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and photography.

Leave a Reply

Notify of