1. Heck
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    Heck New Member

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    Beginning a title with "The"?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Heck, Mar 15, 2016.

    Firstly, hello. I am Heck. I'm not actually a writer, I'm a comic maker person. I don't know much about writing (and honestly this site is pretty intimidating) but I hope to learn a lot here.

    So my question is about using the word "The" in the beginning of titles. I'd like to know if there's a rule for it, or what people prefer when naming their work.
    For example:

    A story that takes place in the spooky mountains.
    "Spooky Mountains"
    "The Spooky Mountains"

    A story about a girl who finds a bunch of fake beards.
    "Beards"
    "The Beards"

    A story about an A.I. robot safari car on a rogue safari in New York.
    "New York Safari"
    "The New York Safari"

    etc.

    Are any of these titles more incorrect than the other? Does it matter if the title is a setting, an event, or an object, or does it not matter at all?
    This is probably stupid, but thanks a bunch :>
     
  2. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hope you're writing that story about A.I Robot Safari Car on a rogue safari in New York.

    I don't have any knowledge about how best to use The in a title, it does change the emphasis somewhat IMO.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Neither is more correct than the other, but the feel changes a bit with the The, and for reasons I cannot really explain, so please don't hold me to task, the The feels a little... old-timie.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    On the other hand.... There's a great little LGBT web series I enjoyed muchly called The Outs. In that case, removing the The leaves a word that's just way to ambiguous and lacking in meaning or context to feel correct. Is it a verb, is it a noun? In that case the The solidifies it as a plural noun. So, maybe case by case?
     
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  5. Heck
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    Heck New Member

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    lol, it does sound pretty cool. I think a New York safari would do a lot better in a visual medium, and unfortunately I loathe drawing cars. It'd be a kickass movie though.
    My story is still under construction, but boiled down, it's about some kid who leaves her hometown for a pipe-dream to become the archmage's apprentice, and she runs into another kid who's on his way to go kill the stupid king. I've gone too long without a title and titles make me feel better, but the word "The" absolutely stumped me. :/
     
  6. Heck
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    Heck New Member

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    It does sort of feel... well, really formal. But sometimes subtracting it makes it feel too informal. My story is pretty silly and fun, totally not formal. I agree it is case-by-case. On the comic site I'm on, "The" is almost exclusively added to objects, or comics that take themselves really seriously. The title is everything, so I'm probably thinking about this way too much. I was just wondering if maybe writers had some secret way of wording titles that makes them sound appealing and cool >->
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. :) Let's use your examples and I'll give my simple gut feeling on each.

    In this case, The Spooky Mountains sounds like a kid's story. Like, for little kids. The formalness of the The and the youthfulness of Spooky Mountains makes me think of an early 1970's Sunday Disney TV movie. Spooky Mountains without the The feels like a twist on the aforementioned. That story is setting me up for a Disney ghost and friendly witch romp, but might go the way of Wrong Turn. :dead:

    I'm not interested in reading The Beards. But Beards sounds funny. I instantly get a good looking clique of Manhattan beardoes in my head and I expect the story to be about their lives and loves and laughs.

    The first sounds like a story. The second sounds like the cover of a pamphlet telling me about an attraction at the New York City Zoo.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And then people all of their individual things and likes and peeves. For instance, the word chronicles in a title makes my skin crawl. Chronicles. Blech. It sounds like a medical condition.

    "Dude, I just found out today. I've got chronicles."

    "Wow, man. I don't... I don't even know what to say. I'm here for you, bro. Don't hear this the wrong way, but I love you, man. Chronicles or no, I'm always your friend."

    It's just an unpretty word.

    Other people are reading this and they have this face on :wtf: because they have no idea why I feel this way, or they have this face :bigmeh: because their magnum opus contains that word. :whistle:
     
  9. Heck
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    Heck New Member

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    Nah, I get it. There are words I hate and phrases I loathe. I hate when people use the word "would" incorrectly.
    "She would pick up the beards from the floor."
    BUT DID SHE THO?
    Heinous rhymes with anus, and therefor is not a good word to use ever. "He will pay for his heinous crimes!" Hnnng no. Just one "heinous" and the scene can no longer be serious, because my mind instantly spews "anus crimes! anus crimes!".
    I guess it's no "The" for me then, which is good. I wasn't even thinking about it until literally just an hour ago. Sometimes I feel like the title is just as important as the rest of the story.
    I really hope we don't piss off whoever calls their work "The Heinous Chronicles"
     
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  10. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    I'm going to wade in here and wave some grammar around, so apologies in advance.

    As @Wreybies said above, it's a question of feel.

    The word the is the definite article, and two of it's jobs are 1) to identify something unique -- like the Internet -- and 2) to make a group of specific things rather than all things in general -- if I say, "I hate the computers", you'd probably feel that my statement was unfinished, and you'd want to ask me, "which computers are you talking about?", and maybe I'd reply with, "the crappy old computers in this Godforsaken office", or something similar; but if I said, "I hate computers", you'd be like, "really? you hate all computers?".

    So anyway, applying that to your title dilemma. "Spooky Mountains" sounds general, open and therefore less formal; whereas "The Spooky Mountains" sounds specific, unique and therefore more formal (or (melo)dramatic).

    I'm sure none of this helps you make a decision, but it may help you understand why the word the makes a title feel different.

    I'm done. As you were, gents.
     
  11. Heck
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    Heck New Member

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    Oh, yeah, I guess that does make sense. I think I'll stick with something less formal. Things just sort of happen, there's no important moral lesson at the end (Or maybe there is!), stuff just happens and characters do things. It does help me understand though, thanks :>
     
  12. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Never underestimate the unexpected moral. They often pop out of your subconscious when you're least expecting it and slap you in the face with opinions you didn't know you had. ;)

    No worries. Always a pleasure. :)
     

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