This is Meaningless

Posted on 26/11/2012 by


You know how if you say a word often enough it ceases to have any meaning and becomes just a weird collection of syllables that you start to wonder who put in that order?


Have you ever noticed how titles do the same thing? It’s like they only mean something the first time you hear them. After that they’re just a shape you hang the text on.

I mean, think about Star Wars. That’s a title with actual meaning,* but no one reads ‘Star Wars’ and thinks ‘wars among the stars’; they think, ‘Han and Luke and Chewie and R2-D2. They think light sabers and X-wings and, You’re my only hope’. (Well, okay, I think, scruffy looking nerf herder. I’m sure everyone has their favourites.)

Image of Han Solo in 'Star Wars'. He looks vaguely offended. Caption reads: Who's scruffy looking?

So if a title is just a collection of syllables to staple the text to, it’s okay if it’s a really terrible title, right? I ask this because I am currently looking at Wizards (amazingly dumb title). And every time I package up a part of it for my beta readers to look at I name the chunk by the first word of the first scene in the chunk and the last word of the last scene. I could number them but this is more evocative in terms of identifying what they’re looking at. However it’s lead to a series of titles like ‘today to worse’, ‘hot to hope’ and ‘muppet fear’. Which is… well, I certainly hope no one is trying to draw meaning from any of that.

Although, honestly, right now I’m thinking Today to Worse would make a better title for the book than Wizards in Space. But that’s not a particularly high bar.


* It’s an incredibly stupid title, but that’s beside the point right now.