Titling Very Short Fiction
Thinking of a Title for Your Story
So you’ve followed one word after another until you’ve finished and now you have a piece of very short fiction. What to call it? Is there an earthworm in it? You could just call it Earthworm. Et voila. Simple enough. Or maybe there isn’t an earthworm in your story, but there could be. In this case, especially, call it Earthworm. Joseph Young does this in one of his microfictions, except he calls it Spyglass, not Earthworm, and you can see how it completes the story so perfectly, even from the beginning.
I wanted a new way. So I asked my friends, Who do I most resemble?
Shakespeare, said one, because of the earring.
FDR, said another, because of the wheelchair.
Hitler, said a third, because of the way he touches his hair.
I took these with me and went to the ocean. The fish flipped on the silver waves. All around was the sand, ten thousand miles of the never changing sand.
Really long titles are another unique way to service your very short fictions. They can enhance a story structurally when they’re as long as or longer than the story itself; creatively, they can be used to supplement or as a counterpoint to the story’s content. Very long titles are one of my favorite things in small fictions, when used well, like here, by Nicolle Elizabeth, in elimae:
Levar Burton Was Not A Babe On Star Trek To Me Because He Was A Trusted Individual I Watched For Information On Reading Rainbow As A Child
I took notes. I was a very serious six year old. Again every part of me itches as it did then.
Thinking of a Story for Your Title
Sometimes random word combinations float across our consciousness, and similar to thinking, “Wow, that’d be a great name for a band!” we think, “Wow, that’d be a great title for a story!" Great band names and great titles are often interchangeable, which helps if you’re starting a band, or know someone who is. There can be many stories, but only one band.
Wow, that’d be a great title for a story! Many Stories, One Band. Seems too good to go to waste. So what now? There are the words, at the top of a blank page; it’s time to tease out the story. One thing that makes this an interesting title, aside from the Many/One contrast, is the multiple meanings of the words “stories” and “band”—stories can be stories you tell, stories in a building; bands can be musical, wedding bands, bands of rubber or other things. In very short fiction, multiple meanings can be used to great effect as shortcuts. I’m going to try to do that here, on the spot, with this title, and hope it kind of works.
Many Stories, One Band
Falling. Last in a series. Counting windows. Sun glances gold off pale, curled fingers. Blinding. The end.
Okay, I think you can see what I did there. Hope it helps.
Bio: Cami Park writes small things various, and is often filled with an impossible, irredeemable love. She maintains a web presence at Mungo.
Read "On Mondays, Francesca Takes the Stairs" at Smokelong Quarterly
Read "after life" at elimae
Read "The Oddest Thing Ever Found in a Pocket" at FRiGG