A title is a group of words carefully stringed to get readers’ attention. It tells what the article is about and what the readers should expect before he plunges into the content.
A good title must not be misleading even as it aims to breaks a reader’s casual scrolling and surfing as he hopes to find something interesting and valuable to feed his mind.
The impact of misleading headlines could have might be very nuance but goes a long way to affecting how he sees other articles written by the writer. The same way a good article could be an asset so it could also when an article leaves a bad impression could be a liability and an obstacle working against future stories or articles from the writer.
Therefore, titles must be purposefully and carefully written to grab the right attention as well as non-misleading. For two reason:
- Empathy; and
Empathy because a good writer cares about his readers. They are the reason why we’re here. They make the position we are occupying worth what it is in society. A writer who has empathy for his reader does more than his pay in bringing value to his reader. And in the long run, writers that bring the most value get the approval, support, and admiration of readers — they get rewarded the most.
And trust, which is a reward for empathy. When readers get to trust you, it doesn’t matter how few they are, you will have found a family that nourishes you with unconditional love — the emotional component that gives meaning to your financial benefits.Unconditional Love
I found it in two amazing writers and thereafter Medium has become a place I can call a home.medium.com
Now, what’s the best approach in writing a title perfect for your articles?
The best approach is to write it as many times as possible. A certain top writer on Medium, Dave Schools, once said he practices writing a particular title up to ten times and then choose the one most appropriate for the story. I completely agree with that exercise.
But here’s a whole another question: When in the process of writing should you carry out this exercise? Should it be before or after the article has been written? Here’s my answer: One before you start writing and the rest after you finish the whole article.
The first title is for the first draft. Its work is to guide you as you write the first version of your articles which most times are a shadow of the final draft. Therefore it is amenable to change as you get into the rewriting stage.
After you have written the first draft, read through, reorganize the ideas and restructure the text to capture your target audience and the issue you intend to address. Thereafter, rewrite and tweak the title you started with into something informative and appealing to your target readers. That’s how titles that are perfect and fit for contents come about.
Approached like this, it’s difficult for a headline to be misleading. And there’s a reason why this method works:
It’s been found that before a writer starts writing an article, he only sees the surface or periphery or catches a short eye view of what it’s about. The essence comes out after he’s gone deep into writing the story.
Paul Graham, In a short article, Writing, Briefly, alluded to this fact:
“Expect 80% of the ideas in an essay to happen after you start writing it, and 50% of those you start with to be wrong; be confident enough to cut.”
For instance, the title for the first draft of this article was “When to Write a Title”. But after I was through writing, slept over it and rewrote it the next morning, I discovered that that title didn’t represent the message captured here and so I changed it to “A Better Approach To Writing Titles Perfect for Your Articles”. If I had asked you to choose between the two which would you had picked?
When written following this approach, not only does the title captures the essence of the contents also you meet readers’ expectations and as a result, they get to trust you and look forward to your future works.
So don’t fix your title with iron when you begin; first write a tentative title, to write the first version of your draft. Rewrite the draft and then modify the title as many times till it could precisely inform as well as appeal to your target readers. The result? A title that is perfect and fit for your content.
This approach is so practical that you can try it in your next story. And I hope you give it a try.
Have fun writing.
Here’s the link to read this story on Medium.