Most essay titles are too long or too short. Some essays have no titles.
A poor title is a lost opportunity. For sure.
So, is there a title strategy that makes sense?
Yes. Of course. But where can you find it?
Two Students are talking before class.
“What’s your first essay about?”
“You know Denise, that’s a good question. I wrote the essay but now I can’t think of a title.” Alec answers, shaking his head.
“That resonates. I can’t think of a title for my essay either. How about a one-word title?”
“Those work but not all the time. That one word has to be super. Telling. Otherwise, you have an essay that begins with a bad impression. Sometimes that impression carries all the way through the essay. And bang. A poor grade, Denise.”
“You’re right, Alec. Too risky. So what’s the answer?”
For one, a great instructor. This issue is never covered in an English Handbook. As far as I know.”
“We both need help. So, maybe, a title question works.”
“Now, that’s a possibility, Denise. A good one.”
“Another one could be something with a number in it. Numbers are always a good start.” Denise was now standing, watching students walk into the classroom. “Class is starting. Time to go.”
They both took their seats.
Professor Jones was late to class, so Alec and Denise continued to discuss creating a title for their essays.
“I just noticed Brad’s essay, over there.”
“Yea, Alec. He has no title. Should we say something?”
Alec waved his hand back and forth. “No. What could we tell him at this point? We don’t have titles either.”
Denise thought for a moment. “We have two choices. Ask our professor. Or search the Internet.”
Alec pursed his lips. “Well, here’s the professor, so the Internet can wait.”
“I apologize for running late. Parking.” Professor Jones placed his briefcase on the instructor’s table.
The class all shook their heads, as if to say, “parking.”
“So, right away, I want to get into today’s short story. Our first detective story this semester. And a great one.”
Denise whispered to Alec. “I love this story, but we need some writing instruction.”
“Absolutely.” Alec hesitated, but finally raised his hand. “Professor, could you help us out?”
“Sure, Alec. What do you need?”
“Denise and I were talking before class. We both had the same issue. How to title our essays that are due Thursday?”
“Did you check the handbook?”
“Nothing really there, professor.”
“Okay,” Professor Jones said, thinking …
So, what are the possible answers Professor Jones could give?
Professor Jones might come right back with a spot-on answer.
He might be able to look quickly at the English Handbook for an answer.
He might even say, “Let’s talk after class,” inviting anyone interested in a possible answer to staying after class.
He could also give some general guidelines that would help.
There’s one possible answer that would work. One that wouldn’t slow the Professor’s story discussion. About the famous Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Speckled Band.”
Key Writing Technique # 3