On the beauty of the subtitle.

This is not to say that heroes with sidekicks/helpers/donors aren’t self-righteous tool-bags, only that they are significantly less so. A hero needs bravado, to make an entrance, to get in there just in the nick of time.

But they also need that weird blend of in-your-face and mystery. You need to immediately know what’s going down and you need to get sucked into the drama of it all.

The sidekick’s job is to demand clarity, because you can’t work as a team without clarity, without stopping gumming up the works.

So it goes with the title as the hero of one’s writing, and the subtitle as the sidekick.

Your title should be clear and evocative, telling you something you already know while drawing you in to learn more. Your subtitle can give that initial more by:

  • clarifying the mission at hand;
  • dryly undercutting the seriousness with which the hero has framed the situation to make the lesson(s) to be learned appear more manageable; and or,
  • simply act as a transition statement or preface between title and introductory sentence/paragraph.

I’m a big fan of the title/subtitle pairing. I’m not a fan of heroes being all bombastic and no grounding, it runs the risk of turning anything they have to say into a villain’s monologue on how they plan to take over the world.


Also published on Medium.


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