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View Full Version : The Art of the Thread Title or How To Get Critiques



Anarkos
December 29th, 2005, 05:01 AM
I haven't written a critique for a very long time. One reason for that is that, of late, whenever I've looked into the critique forums, I have seen not one title that entertains or interests me at all. So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my advice on how to get people to at least read your story:

THINGS NOT TO DO, WHICH SHALT RESULT IN THE PLUCKING OF TOENAILS, THROWING OF SHOES, WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.
1) Do not beg for reviews in your title.
Everyone here wants critique and advice. That's why you're posting in a critique and advice forum. The fact that you and ten other people say "please" doesn't make me anymore likely to open your thread. In fact, because you're in breach of WF's rules - http://www.writingforums.com/showthread.php?t=25827 - it makes me a whole lot less likely to read and review your story. Why should I bother to read your fiction if you haven't bothered to read WF's rules?

2) Do not say that the story is untitled.
Again, this doesn't draw my attention at all. It doesn't tell me what you're writing about. It doesn't excite me. It doesn't interest me. If you don't have a title, describe the story....or just come up with a working title.

3) Do not just post your title.
Unless it is especially bizarre or intriguing, don't just post your story's title. If I see a story called Revenge (for example), well, how am I to know what genre it is? Is it a sci-fi tale of a martian hunting down the people who stole his mojo? Is it a gritty tale of drugs and street violence? Is it high fantasy, in which a noble knight avenges his princess's honour with swords, sourcery and a small pen-knife?

4) Do not say it's a wonderful story.
If your story was wonderful and you knew it, you'd probably be a published author. Seeing as you're here, I can assume that you haven't just rocked the literary world with your amazing prose. Saying how great your work is just makes you look arrogant and egotistical. Your work might be the start of the next great novel to hit the world, but it's not up to you to grant yourself that honour.

5) Do not say your story is terrible.
This is the flipside of #4 above. Humility is good, but a lack of confidence is not. If you just tell me your story is awful, why would I want to subject myself to the apparent pain of reading it? If the author isn't confident in their work, then surely they could do a little more editing themselves before posting it in public?

6) Do not make spelling mistakes.
Think about it. Proof-reading is important. Proof-reading your thread title is crucial.

7) Do not use all caps.
This is your story. You want us to read it. Fine. There's no need to shout. Caps lock is not your friend.

8) Do not mislead us.
This includes false promises of sexual favours. Believe it, we've seen them all.

THINGS WHICH SHOULD BE DONE VERILY, WHICH SHALT RESULT IN A GREAT CLAPPING OF HANDS AND READING OF THREADS AND POSTING OF CRITIQUES

1) Not doing everything listed above.
I can't stress how important it is. If your title does any of the things I've listed above, the chances of me reading it are tiny.

2) Post your title.
It's the name of the story, right? If you're ever published, this is what you'll be trying to get people to first pick your book up by, right? So, it should, in theory, help persuade people to enter your thread... [cf Point #3 above; do post your title, but not just your title]

3) Give us a rough idea of the length of your tale.
If I have to leave for work in twenty minutes, I do not want to start reading your ten-thousand word epic. Equally, if I'm terribly bored, reading your entire novel might be a little more appealing than reading a three paragraph piece of flash fiction. Either post your word count or paragraph count, or say what it is (short story, excerpt, novel chapter, flash fiction, paragraph...).

4) Give us a rough idea of the genre.
This is simple. Write "action" or "military" or "romance" or "humour" beside your title. That way, if I'm in a mood for a nasty revenge tale, I won't read your tale of love and cute puppies.

5) If your title is especially bizarre, tell us a little more about the story...
It should be self-explanatory, right?