Sunday, June 1, 2008


creative writing antithesis
Plain or fancy? Apparent or paradoxical? Straight or contradictory?
I am talking about creative writing ideas for titles / summaries. Today I have read a question at 'Yahoo answers'. The question is about a title. The girl is writing a story and asking for help about creative title.
I assume the author wishes to write it catchy, doesn't she? To grab the attention?

What are the known/possible solutions?

As you know, this problem may have several solutions. You may go straight to the point: the principal heroine has such a character (a bad/good temper, an eccentric/normal nature, etc).
Or you may use a rhetorical question: "How to…?" "What do you know about…?"
Or you may scare / shock your readers: "If you don't know this information, you may happen to lose…".

How to choose the suitable solution?

I need to mention: we have more information on the story's main character. Rylie (that's the heroine's name) 'begins her senior year in bitterness that leads to rebellion. Once a sweet, innocent teen now an angry, faithless girl etc.'
OK. So we see a kind of contradiction here. This leads us to using a rhetorical device named Antithesis.

What is Antithesis?

You remember good known examples of antithesis:
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." (Neil Armstrong)
"Man proposes - God disposes".
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." (Charles Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities").
Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." (Martin Luther King, Jr., speech at St. Louis, 1964)

How would I title / begin the story?

Maybe like this: "Is Rylie sweet or harsh, charming or nasty, attractive or unpleasant?"
Or: "How can a girl be innocent and impure, spiritual and worldly?"
Or: "Naive but experienced, open but angry, spiritual but faithless…".

Practice it, try other creative writing ideas (antithetical) and get new possible titles.
The above photo is from Flickr


  1. Jacob,
    you name a few solutions, then you say Antithesis is the most suitable solution. How are you so sure this is the best solution?

  2. Abigail,
    I am not so sure as you think. It is important to see all the possible solutions. In our case, the idea of using Antithesis comes from the fact that the main heroine is very paradoxical (= antithetical) herself.

  3. Jacob,

    I always am happy when I can foreshadow events or reveal character subtly, whether in a title or elsewhere in a work.

    I wonder if a sublter approach to the title and summary might not be a better idea here. If you set up immediately that this girl is a paradox, where does that let the story go? I don't really know enough about this to have a valid opinion, but it's important to show, not tell. (Gee, where have we heard that before...? *grin*)

    Even though she's asking for help with her summary, I get the impression she hasn't written the story yet. There's no need of a title yet in that case. Frankly her summary is too vague to make much sense to me.

    I get the contrasts, but I'm not sure they work in this context. And unless Rylie is shown to be a more sympathetic character, (bitter and rebellious aren't attractive qualities) the author runs the risk of no one wanting to read about her protagonist.

    I've seen this happen often with beginning writers. They know so much more about their characters than they have verbalized. Yet they think it's all there on paper, when it's mostly still in their heads.

    And yes, this happened to me early in my writing career. That's how I know. It's hard to filter out what we know about our characters that our readers don't know yet.

    It may seem obvious to her that Rylie is devastated by her boyfriend's death, but it's not enough to say there's a void in her life. We need words that evoke an emotional response in us, not that instruct us in the facts of the story.

    "The void that was now Rylie's life is not what she had in mind for the beginning of her senior year. And since Nature abhors a vacuum, bitterness and rebellion have now taken the place of sweetness and innocence. [Boyfriend], her one true love, is dead. Nothing could change that, or alter the fact that she herself felt dead inside. But Rylie could change her life. The question was, would she destroy it in the process?"

    Just a suggestion.

    Deb Gallardo

  4. Deb,
    thanks for a great comment. You would send it to "Yahoo answers" if it were possible (if the question were still open there).