I honestly don’t know what kind of a writer and reader I would be without the tools I learned with Ms. Ziff. She was always a very understanding, rigorous, and involved teacher, and an incredible mentor.Maddie 9th Grade, Marlborough School
Whether it’s teaching a student to become a more vivid creative writer, a more effective analytical writer, or a more selective business writer, Vanessa can do it all.Meli and Stephen Rose
The skills Vanessa taught my son--particularly the value of revising many times […] attention to detail, and high standards—are still with Nico several years later.Liz McNicoll, Attorney, Paramount Pictures
Vanessa has a gift for inspiring even the most reluctant writer and her passion for writing is infectious. She is a favorite workshop leader at our Young Writers’ Conferences.Julie Moore & Rena Svetic, Young Writers’ Conference Founders
Vanessa’s methods are creative, thorough and innovative. She makes writing fun and has turned our daughter’s “like” of writing into a true “LOVE”.The Altmans
Vanessa is high-energy smarts and charm, the kind of writer and teacher who captures and captivates readers of all ages.New York Times bestselling author, Cynthia Leitich Smith
While we continue to be impressed by Vanessa’s many attributes, it is her high energy level, extraordinary patience, and passion for what she does that make her truly unique.Melissa and Rob Weiler

Vanessa is an outstanding writer and a joy to work with.

Aimee Trudeau, Web Developer, Kizmato.com
I know that the many fun and challenging lessons I’ve learned from Ms. Ziff will help me achieve my goal of one day being a professional writer and filmmaker.Jaren S. 7th Grade, The Buckley School
Ms. Ziff maintains a good balance of knowing when to give more help and when to insist that you rise to the challenge of the learning situation. She instills confidence, honors excellence, and respects effort.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa got my 8-year old son excited and intrigued to dig deeper into his experiences and bring his thoughts to life. Now Evan’s words dance and sing, which makes me want to dance and sing!Sally Micelotta
Ms. Ziff set the foundation for my analytical, constructive, and creative skills. Whether writing a sonnet or writing an essay, I still have her lessons in my mind.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Having an eight-year old highly gifted boy was not enough to make him put all those brilliant ideas on paper. Daniel feels constantly challenged by Vanessa and that ignites him.Liliana Benitez
Vanessa’s vast skills, complete dedication, and clear purpose construct a solid core for every student she teaches. Her passionate nature produces both a fun and rewarding learning experience.Michele Noble, Director, Writer, Filmmaker
Ms. Ziff is definitely not just my teacher and tutor; she is my mentor.Lexi 7th Grade, Harvard Westlake
My son learned more about writing and literary appreciation from Ms. Ziff in fifth grade than in any other year of school. I wish all teachers had Vanessa’s passion for teaching and inspiring!Kim Ford
Vanessa transformed our son Josh from a decent writer into an excellent writer.  We wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa and her ability to draw out the best in your child’s writing ability.Jill and Larry Krutchik
It's obvious that Vanessa is a wordsmith: "Write. Observe. Revise. Discover...W.O.R.D."  These are the four essential ingredients for becoming a writer; two of them about the work (writing and revising) and two of them about the joy (observing and discovering.) Vanessa accomplishes it all.  Julie Larios, award-winning poet and children’s author
Ms. Ziff’s friendly demeanor and enthusiasm made communicating easy and learning exciting. She taught us to understand and appreciate the material, and have fun in the process.Alivia 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
All of us remember teachers who inspired us to greater heights and who influenced our lives. Vanessa Ziff Lasdon has played this role in my daughters' lives.Jack Tauber, M.D.
The writing skills my daughter, now excelling in ninth grade English Honors, left Vanessa’s class with continue to be an invaluable set of resources.Betsy Leva
Ms. Ziff always pushed me to do my best, and never let me slack off.  She introduced me to my love of writing and gave me the confidence I needed both academically and in myself.Georgia 9th Grade, The Buckley School
Vanessa captured the essence of what I wanted to relay on my site without sounding trite, unlike my experience with previous writers.Martin Pugh, Musician
I learned as much from teaching with Vanessa as any of her students under her guidance. Where so many others fall back on old tricks, Vanessa taps into her extensive experience to invent new methodologies for each and every one of her clients.Patrick Kieffer, Fifth Grade – English & History, The Packer Collegiate Institute
Ms. Vanessa has challenged me to stretch my writing and I am excited for what I will do next.Evan, 3rd Grade
Vanessa’s greatest ability is to help each student realize his or her own untapped potential. It’s the stuff that changes lives!Jacqueline Frohlich
Ms. Ziff is always organized, resourceful, and ready for anything. She believes in a process, [...] the best of all being the Ms. Ziff approach, which makes her spectacular.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher. She’s extremely organized, communicates ideas effectively, helps motivate, and has a lively, engaging teaching style that brings out the best efforts in all of her students.Howard Tager
Vanessa Ziff Lasdon possesses the dynamic combination of an incisive intellect and boundless passion when it comes to teaching her craft and sharing skills with her students.MaryLynn Richmond
Vanessa is a true master of her craft. She is a blast to work with, completely trustworthy and utterly authentic. To work with Vanessa is a privilege; you just want to soak up all her talent, and bottle it up for yourself! She is an inspiration.Sarina Fierro, Head of Lower Elementary, Curtis School
What our daughter values most about her time in Vanessa's class is being inspired to become an organized writer who could convey her thoughts in a meaningful manner.Laurie and Chris Harbert

10 Ways to Write Tantalizing Titles

Titles. What agony. How to condense an entire piece of writing into a single phrase or solitary word? How to grab the reader’s attention in a heartbeat? Whether fiction or blog post, essay or email subject line, without a great title, the rest of your content – even those spiffy subsections or chapter headings – may as well not even exist.

catchy titles


 
First Of All…

It’s nearly impossible to come up with a great title for anything before you have polished your piece of writing. Objectively speaking, crafting a title should not be overly stressful, if you’ve been listening to what you are writing.

working title On first drafts, it’s perfectly fine to use the title as a label placeholder, or what authors like to call a “working title,” but you ultimately want to think of the title as an intriguing door into the writing, particularly when it concerns nonfiction writing.
 
Fair warning: don’t settle on your first idea.
 Most often your first three to five ideas are not your best. It takes time for your brain to sort through the superficial junk and dig down into real creativity. Try the “Take 10” approach when you write your titles.

So, Who Are You Writing For?

I realize you’re tired of hearing this, but know your audience first. How old are they? What are their interests? Do you have regular readers? Are you well respected in your field? Or is this your first rodeo? Are you relying on search engines and social media to drive traffic to your site, or simply the buzz that comes from good ole’ word of mouth marketing?

If you’ve created a rapport with your readers, it’s likely they’ll continue reading your content, regardless of the headline or title. Although (*cue sappy cliché music again*) repeat and new readers alike will always judge a book or article by its cover – and that includes the title, folks. Make sure the title is relevant to your readers, that it makes sense, promises on certain content delivered in the text, and takes no more than a second to read. Apply this handy search engine optimization strategy to your story, essay, blog post, email, or script: whittle a title’s length to within 60-80 characters and include keywords.

headlines post title seo

Sound Advice

I must confess that titles, chapter names, headings, and subheads happen to be a guilty pleasure of mine. Not that I’m particularly great at them, but they really are such a romp for the wordsmith and music lover. I say music lover because the rhythm within a title’s words is what first catches the reader’s attention. How it rolls around in the mouth and bounces around in your brain. On the flipside, I’d warn that overly sonorous titles cannot be faithfully translated into other languages; much, if not all, of the potency and nuance will be lost, an indeed, an entirely new meaning may come of the interpretation. When crafting “deep” titles, proceed with caution and due diligence.

 

A Slightly Inconvenient Truth

Alas, if you are an aspiring author, realize that you may have very little say in the final title chosen by the publisher, whose marketing team has this process down to a focused-group science, so that your title is able to compete for reader attention on Amazon and in bookstores amidst thousands of others. That said, if you know you’ve nailed the title on your own, champion its inclusion as loudly as you can.

untitled manuscript

10 Ways to Write Tantalizing Titles

  1. Try a witty twist on a famous title that happens to nail your subject perfectly. (But beware: the title of the classic may show up more often in searches than your own – unless you trump its popularity.)
  2.  

  3. Use tension to pull the reader in two different directions. (“The Perfect Storm”; “The Bone Detectives”) “Killer Whales” might be your working title, but “Intelligent Assassin: The Killer Whale” makes the reader pause and wonder.
  4.  

  5. Consider theme to hint at a deeper meaning. Summarize your theme in a few words and then change it up several times.
  6.  

  7. Underline significant words and phrases in your writing and reassemble them in various ways. (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”; “Requiem for a Dream”)
  8.  

  9. Be direct: name the piece after the main character or topic (“Dracula”)
  10.  

  11. Use song titles for inspiration. I’m often streaming ambient music while I write, and the titles of some songs blow me away. (“Moon Kiss”; “Closing the Sky”)
  12.  

  13. Try out a popular number: 0, 1, 3, 7, 10. Numbered lists are catchy and memorable (if not a bit overdone these days.) Movies, YA novels, and blog posts have cornered the market on lists and numbered titles: (“10 Things I Hate About You”; “Zero Dark Thirty”; “1984”)
  14.  

  15. Attempt a GERUND PROTAGONIST formula, a title structure that strikes at the human condition (“Searching for Bobby Fischer”; “Being John Malkovich”; “Bowling for Columbine”)
  16.  

  17. Into the formula approach? Try this one: NUMBER + NOUN + OF + NOUN. (“100 Years of Solitude”)
  18.  

  19. Go for the ultimate smackdown in brevity: the single word. (“Uglies” “Beloved” “Holes”)

 

title

Rules

Hooray! There really are none when it comes to titles!

 

Other helpful resources for authors, bloggers, educators, and professionals:

 

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