Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let's Pretend This Post Has a Catchy Title!

Had a formspring question to answer, from Alectra:
Hello Dee this Alectra here, I have an important question that is bugging me. Titles are a must in a caption, therefore you cannot put in silly ones. I'm having a hard time coming up with titles. Can you talk about how to put good titles? Thanks!
If I am being completely honest with people, and I usually am, the LAST thing I do before hitting the POST button is come up with a title for the caption. I think that is the secret to coming up with a good title, waiting until you are completely done.

Why? Well, if you call the caption something before you write it, you are limiting yourself to make whatever you come up with FIT the title, instead of letting your creativity flow and guide the story where it needs to go. As I've mentioned in past blog posts, sometimes a caption will just take off on its own, regardless of my original idea. Anything that narrows the scope of what I making could stifle its potential. The title is the last thing I fill in here on my blog too!

So now I've created the caption and am ready to post .. now what? Well, you want something that grabs the reader, and makes them want to click on it. "Where's all the fucking huh?" or in Canada, "Where's all the fucking, eh?" ... it gets right to the point, and have twice as many views as the caption before or after it. "Sucking me off makes you even girlier!" has more views in 6 days than anything else posted here in almost 2 months.

My suggestion would be to think about the overall arc of the caption, but NEVER give away a major plot point if at all possible, unless its what the entire caption is about. I mean, the title of the above caption on the haven was, "trapped in a labyrinth" which by all accounts is pretty descriptive of what was happening. I take it that everyone has read it, so .. what if I had named it, "Henri never asked for directions" ??? The whole caption falls flat in my opinion since there is no reason to even READ it once its out of the bag.

I don't see why you can't have a silly title if the caption calls for it. I will use puns, plays on words, catch phrases .. whatever it needs to make it a better overall presentation/ Sometimes, the title can even clarify pieces in your caption that might be a bit vague and hazy.

I'm not quite sure I've really done what I can to help you. Can you comment below with specific things that you are having trouble with and I'll see what I can suggest? I hope everyone keeps checking in, as I might elaborate more in the comments as the discussion progresses.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Sorry for people that are only TG readers on this one, but for those who do create, When/how do you create the titles for your captions? Do you have any steadfast rules that you tend to always follow when thinking up a title?


  1. If the story is in my head from the get go, sometimes the title is known as soon as the caption is started. I've put down Titles before any text because the story told me what it was before I began.

    Most times it comes after the story is done. Often it comes from the text itself. When I'm feeling up to it, I might name it after a song title or lyric. (This gets to be very difficult as times goes on.) Overall, i want it to fit with the story and as long as that works, I'm good with it.

  2. I try to take the title from the actual verbiage of the cap, but I try to make it so that it can be read two ways. For example my cap titled 'Getting Everything You Paid For!" would seem to follow the first part of the cap where the man paying to transform his friend is checking to get everything he paid for. But at the end, it works for the zinger as well. Admittedly though, I've gotten lazy on my titles, and several have spilled the beans.

    As to when I title it, well I'm all over the board. Sometimes I have a title in mind when I first see the image. When that happens I don't keep the story working toward the title though... if the story goes off in a new fun direction I'll re-title if necessary. Sometimes I stumble upon the title when I'm halfway through the caps, and sometimes I'll struggle at the end to come up with one.

    I don't believe I have any rules for coming up with titles other than it has to fit. And by fit, I mean both meaning wise, and visually since I try to work the title into the cap.

    1. I wondered how captioners like you and Simone did it when the title is often part of the caption itself. I should assume that you KNOW where you WANT to place it, and leave that area blank so that when the title is written, its just placed where it belongs.

  3. I have no set rules for making titles. Sometimes I already have one in mind, sometimes I do one after. I kinda enjoy coming up with a pun for a title or play on words, e.g "The Early Nerd catches the Worm" "Trojan Whore" etc, or sometimes it will be a line that someone says in the cap. Having a title that fits can be very important. As you already stated it's the first thing people read and can give a caption a lot of impact.

    1. Those are definitely good titles! Who wouldn't be curious to click through to see what exactly happens in the story?!?

  4. I have no set rules about when I come up with the title... Sometimes I try to take it from the words in the story, sometimes I try for a clever play on words.... The more captions you make, the harder it is to come up with unique titles... "Home Maid", "Maid for Sex..", etc... when you've made your 30th "French Maid" caption, you have to get a little more inventive...

    As you mentioned, you try not to give away too much in the title... "Reluctant Cheerleader/Schoolgirl/Bimbo", I would never use, as it gives the whole tone of the caption away before reading it....

    I guess most times, the story comes first. Occasionally, I'll think of a clever title first, then create a story to fit it, but that's rare. Normally, I write the story, THEN try to come up with an original, interesting and hopefully "catchy" title...


    1. I should mention that for the first several years of creating captions, I used no titles at all... Only the jpg file names... Schoolgirl_Blues01, SissySister03, etc... The only "title" I used was sometimes on the post header, if it all, not the actual picture :)

    2. i wonder if that is one of the issues that Alectra is having. After doing a few in a certain genre, she might be burnt out of ways to be unique in her titling.

      I never usually come up with the title first. For me, its usually "the zinger" or a hook that makes the whole caption come alive. Once you have that, its just crafting a title that enhances the contents of the caption.

      I was just thinking about how movies in America have different names when they are translated into another language. That would be a fun exercise, to make a caption and title it as if it was a bad translation.

    3. "That would be a fun exercise, to make a caption and title it as if it was a bad translation."

      That would be a lot of fun! Idea filed away...

  5. Thanks for the ideas ;)

    Yep I think what Steffi said is a bit of what I'm saying. Part of it - obviously - is that I cannot come up with Song titles or cheesy titles inspired on cultural references, because I don't know them in USA or UK cultures *giggle* As it would not make sense to translate them from the spanish into english, it would only make sense to a few to none, and really, really closed references. On the other hands your cultures are more mainstream.

    My main problem is that I think of a story, but usually don't have a string that connect to some plot or it just plain rambling from a weird inspiration xD So then I have no title, or when I put in a title I began to recall that said title was already in another caption, and I get a story done with no title...

    Some other times I have a title but no story and it's a bit frustating...

    I'll try to come up with references to movies and such to see if it would get any better. Last caption I've done - unreleased - took me to write the title from the main element that fires the story, so I hope that was any good or fancy at all.

    I mean putting the up tenth time words like Domination, goo, latex *giggle*, maid, etc. That are too much general, don't work for me anymore...

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

    1. Have you tried using some of the English-language thesauruses that are online? They might help you find some alternates for your captions' key words.

      Another source could be an online meta-dictionary called OneLook. They're got a really neat feature called a Reverse Dictionary, into which you enter a description or a concept, and which will then spit out a list of words and phrases that might be related to what you entered. A potential down side for you, though, is that some of the words it suggests are flimsy connections at best, and there can be connotations to other words that might not be obvious to a non-native speaker, and which could be the wrong word to use.

      And then there's always pinging one of us: "Hey! I've got this caption, but I'm having difficulty coming up with a title. Can you help me?" I suspect I'm not the only one who'd be willing to throw some ideas your way. ;-)

  6. I don't know what other readers thought but the title, "Let's Pretend This Post has a Catchy Title!" is in fact a very catchy title with a whimsical nature that matched the caption. All of the elements pulled together in one direction. It was light and airy...and made me smile. I found myself thinking that if that were me, the guards could yell and the soldiers could throw up their arms and wave their weapons...I would just sit down in the grass and smell the pretty flowers. Great job....:) Jenna

    1. Thanks Jenna! I was trying for the "too clever for my own good" type title.

      Glad you enjoyed the caption as well. I thought it was a good picture find and something I could sink my teeth into.

  7. I don't really have any set rules for titles either and sometimes it can be a struggle to think of one. Occasionally I'll know what it is from the off like "You've Got Emo" and of course I try not to spoil the plot.

  8. When I make a cap, sometimes I put the title in the cap, sometimes I don't it depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to do things like I have seen Smitty and others do, being that the title is the tagline at the end of the cap. But I think that a title helps, but on my blog, the cap titled "Mirror, Mirror" Has by far the most views. Hope this helped, and keep up the good work Dee!

  9. "When/how do you create the titles for your captions? Do you have any steadfast rules that you tend to always follow when thinking up a title?"

    I know I'm late to the party on answering this one (meant to comment; forgot to comment), but for me the title is the very last thing I determine for a given caption.

    Now, that said, for every caption I have a working title for it in my files— it can be a proto-title like "Off-Kilter" (for what eventually became "Regina Mala"), a descriptive slug (such as "Tar Time Travel" for "Discontinuity."), or, in some cases, the exact title I both intend to use and end up using (q.v. "Equilibrium").

    The naming of things is important to me, so it's at that final step of the creative process that the title is found. More than once I was sure of what a cap's title was going to be before I created it, only to discover that what I'd forged was an altogether different creature. If we listen, our children can tell us what they're called. ;-)