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Monday, July 14, 2008

Bringing Them to Our Lair

When thinking of a title for my posts, I usually wait until I have written the entire piece before I give the title any thought. From within the text, I usually select a word or short phrase that "sounds" daring, provocative or even misleadingly vague . The title sometimes represents the main idea of my piece or it suggests some kind of direction, but it must also elicit interest. Therefore, the title serves as the cheese that lures the mouse to the trap. That sounds dreadfully mean; does it not? Oh well, you get the point.

Allow me to illustrate what a well written title can do for you. Timethief at This Time This Space wrote a post recently entitled "Wake Up America! God is not on your side." Regardless of your political or religious views, you must admit, this title quickly tempts the reader to click and read. No?

Another wonderful example comes from Buzzingj at Piece of Brick for Piece of Jade who wrote "Huh." Are you puzzled by this title? If you are not, you should be. And you should be puzzled enough to want to click over there and read it. Allow me to digress for a moment. Another skillfully composed part of this piece is the conclusion, one I truly enjoyed. Conclusions are also very important, but I will discuss that another day.

For my last illustration I am forced to use one of my own because I can quantify the importance of the title by using Entreview's own calculating system. I published one of my latest posts on EV on Sunday morning and by late afternoon it had received "10 views." My post entitled "Our Thirsty Eyes Had Feasted" is a phrase straight out of my story. When I compared this post to the others I posted at the same guessed it...this post outdid the others in views and votes.

Now, what were people thinking? Was it the word thirsty or feasted that captured their attention? Did the title imply in some way that this would be a gory Friday the 13th type story where blood and guts would spill off the page? Well, if you read Cherohala Skyway you know quite well, these words referred to the snow we found at the top of the mountain after traveling down a gravel road through the woods.

I have read many posts with seductive titles that imply one thing and then deliver something else. I am not offended; quite the contrary my curiosity and need to know pushes me to read and discover all I can. Is that not what all writers want...for others to follow the seeds we leave along the trail... back to our lair?


  1. I've been thinking about this one -- how a title lures the reader. (Well, I wasn't thinking of it quite this way until I read your title). It's a little bit of salesmanship, though it can also turn people off if done too strongly. Perhaps if they click anyway, the deed has been done ...

  2. Great post! I see nothing wrong with a little "cheese" every now and then. However, the "cheese" has to be used carefully. If I am the "mouse" and the "cheese" is good the first time, I'll go back for more, but there's gotta be more than "cheese" to keep me in the trap. Gimme some fruit, whydontcha! And if you keep handing me Velveeta, when I clearly love imported "cheeses", I'm moving on to where the "cheese" is good. I, however, will say to you Mme. Fearless that you serve only the finest of "cheeses". Very "Gouda" - Nards

  3. Hi Jennifer

    You raise an excellent point and I agree. For this post, I really do believe I went over the top, but I had to I guess to make my point. And yes many folks have arrived at my blog (I think) out of pure curiosity over this title and a few others.

    And no, I personally don't want "only" the clicks. I want folks to read, comment and exchange ideas, but I do need to help them find "me." (lol) :) :)

    Finally, aren't we all trying to sell something? Our name, our products or our ideas? Not necessarily for monetary gain but for some kind of gain? We are seeking something?

    What do you think?

    Hi Nards

    You also raise an excellent point. You can lure the fish to the bait on your rod, but if your leader is too weak, your fish will break the line and swim away before you get it anywhere near the inside of your boat.

    So glad you appreciated the part about the cheese and you are not going to believe this. My favorite cheese is that awesome Holland cheese. How did you know? (lol)

    Thank you both for such constructive comments...

  4. Quick response -- I wasn't talking about your clever title when I wrote my comment. It was a more general observation. Oh, that I could insert tone into comments sometimes ...

    Yes, we are absolutely trying to sell something here -- our ideas. A title is an enticement -- a lure! -- absolutely, and that is a good thing.

    My worries are for titles that make a statement that might really offend people, but still bring people in. I love timethief, but I was a bit put off by her title in the post you highlighted, enough so that I had a hard time reading it (though I did click to it). I could have titled my post about believing in God something like "God Doesn't Exist. Think about it for once, 'Believers!!'" (NOTE: this title does not reflect my views or the ultimate nature of my post). Perhaps I would get more interest, but at a cost.

    Hope that explains my thinking a bit better.

    And did I mention, I thought this was a great, well-thought out post?


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