bITS 'N CHUNKS
My template for titling thing probably comes from cryptic anime OVA titles from the late-80s/early-90s and industrial music. Not lurid because a lot of them were pretty self-explanatory (although yes some look like straight giallo titles), but some of the more "poetic" translations of titles not easily rendered into English. Nowadays when it's like that, we just call them by their Japanese title. But back then, boy did we try it. Come on, how many of y'all thought that man's name was actually Tenchi Muyo?
Manga and video games got this a lot too. I didn’t really get the art of titling even when I started writing my own things, I kind of got that they had to be descriptive of what was going on in the story but I had no template for it. I wasn't sure how to render it. When I looked at the writers I loved, especially in the fantasy genre, I wasn't sure how as to pick their minds on why they came up with The Hellbound Heart and not Hellraiser for example. So I had a lot of pedestrian and cliché story titles that weren't really evocative of what was going on.
When I started reading doujinshi I kind of got a template. Now, mind you most of the doujinshi I read was pornographic in nature so the titles were an indicator of what kind of porn you were getting into. Some were Japanese, some were translated to English or another language I could reasonably understand. But I got it. Titles like Lascivious Mother told you exactly what was going on, who the main character was, and something about them. It reminded me of the quaint old timey titles you'd see on 15th-18th century literature which basically told you the whole story on two lines. So I started doing that in so many words. I also learned about parody titles and as I wrote mostly comedy at the time, that worked out fantastic.
I got cryptic sometimes too. I learned how to use SEO and clickbait to ensure my stories never made it to general search but at least a handful of people would read them. Titling didn't finally click for me until I was writing and reading essays in high school. I learned how to summarize my own subject matter and describe it in so many words so that it looked inviting but kind of standard to protocol. Nothing too wild. I was introduced to the concept of using a quote from yourself or another author that invoked the subject at hand. My favorite part of the story is the reveal of the title - what it really meant this whole time, what it related to. Blogging also helped a lot. People don't have a lot of time to spare and blogging will make you frank.
As I'm often inspired by movies and music, one thing I did to differentiate my professional writing from my fannish stuff was use movie quotes and snippets of song lyrics. I tried not to be terribly obvious about it. I still do this to an extent I just don't rely on it as hardcore as a I used to. I got a lot of hits with Duran Duran…
When I switched over to short stories permanently (seemingly), my titles got about as abbreviated as the content. Usually now it's reduced to the antagonist, a main character, whatever is at stake, a location, or something just plain ol' cryptic for the sake of being cryptic and interesting. That’s where I draw my titling inspiration from these days. I've been trying to broaden myself out lately because titling is still one of those things that is innate for me, so I've been checking out this, this, and this. (PDF)
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...