Notes from a Screenwriter: Entitlement

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

A good title tells a story for you, honing in on the theme and tone. When a reader scans a list of titles, a strong one puts them in an optimistic mood.

  • Keep it short. A short title suggests that you know exactly what your story is. A long title with a poetic bent is suggestive of low conflict and play-like dialogue.
  • Familiar phrases are your friend. They unpack easily in the reader’s imagination. A twist on a familiar phrase works the same way.
  • Avoid fog. Fog is a title that doesn’t give a hint. Usually an adjective with a noun, these titles paint with the broadest possible brush. Smokejumper is a good title. Soundless Smoke is fog.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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