About Mario

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti is a freelance writer of science fiction, horror, screenplays, and nonfiction. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. An avid music lover, his work is heavily influenced by rock, punk, and metal. You can contact him at mario.piumetti.writer@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interview with Ashley Perez

Some writers are like the hatchlings of highly venomous snakes.  Even with a long future ahead of them, they already display a potent bite.  Ashley Perez is one such writer.  She is a graduate of Antioch University's M.F.A. program.  Her short story The Crow Letters was published this year in The Weekenders Magazine.  In August, her story A Claw Hammer to the Nuts was included in First Time: An Anthology About Lost Virginity.  She is currently a blogger for the online literary journal The Rumpus.  Ashley's essays on the craft of writing have appeared on Bleed - the blog for Jaded Ibis Press - and she also runs the online publication Arts Collide.  She is also working on her first novelI recently spoke with Ashley about writing and the themes of her work.

How did you get into writing in the first place?
Writing was always a thing I wanted to do but never did and kept it a secret desire.  I didn't think anyone would take me seriously.  That fear is still there.  Almost three years ago, after I graduated from my B.S. program, I was in a depression about what to do with my life.  In a serendipitous moment, I came across an ad for Antioch's M.F.A.  program and though to myself that if I am going to be in debt for the rest of my life, I'd better be doing something I loved rather than something I hate.

What is the single best piece of advice you've gotten from another writer?

That is pretty difficult.  From writers that I don't know, I would say anything from Stephen King's On Writing or Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art is good.  As far as personal advice, I have heard this in several different formats, but it's just to get it out of you.  Don't worry if it's shitty, just get it out.

When you write, is there a specific person in the audience you're trying to reach?

I don't know about audience per se, but there are certain people that I want to impress: my mentor from grad school, my editors, certain friends, my man.  After those people, it is really out of my hands how strangers or an "audience" takes it.  I am happy with feedback whether it's good or bad, so long as it's constructive.

You talk about project burnout in your essay Doubt or Death, and it seems to affect novels more than short stories.  Why do you think it happens more with long fiction than others?

I think that initial burst is like a drug high.  The first time you get it is intense, but after that, the high is a lot more difficult to sustain.  I struggle to finish stories, so trying to write a novel is extremely difficult.  I think the process is different though for everyone.  I started out writing short stories, so trying to sustain a larger narrative is a struggle for me.

Speaking of novels, what can you tell us about the one you're working on now?

I am taking four linked short stories that I previously wrote and expanding them into a longer narrative.  It is moving rather slowly, but I hope to have some progress made during 2014.  It is about a special kind of prison that houses special types of prisoners.  I suppose that is all I can really say about the actual story.

A Claw Hammer to the Nuts is about losing virginity.  The Crow Letters is an intimate correspondence between a man and a woman.  If someone approached you and said you're a romance writer, what would you say to that?

I would have to laugh.  Aside from those two examples and another essay I am writing, I have never (not that I can remember anyway) written romance, which in my head translates as a physical scene.  I am an awkward person in real life, so writing about romance is even more awkward.  Although I did write a character that had a succubus-type quality.  Does that count?

I suppose in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer way.  So do you think there's really any point in referring to writers by genre, or is it more a "go with the flow" kind of thing?

Everyone has heard this before, but genre is a labeling thing that let's you know what section of the bookstore to look in.  I am not a fan of it.  I think a lot of writers get mislabeled in an attempt to put them somewhere, and because of that their work can get ignored by readers just because they don't read that genre.  The stories I write have horror elements, but I would not say I am a horror writer.

One way to look at The Crow Letters is to say that there's a connection between love and insanity.  Do you think the two are inherently linked?  Can you have one without the other?

Of course the two are linked.  The very essence of love is that your brain is flooded with chemicals that it's normally not.  I don't think that is a bad thing.  I think if I am with someone that can handle my kind of crazy and I can handle theirs, then we have a shot of being something special.  As to having one without the other, who knows?  I think that depends on what your version of insanity and love are.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Violent Trade

I enjoy listening to The Beatles, but tonight, as I listened to Paperback Writer on the way to the local coffee shop, I realized how terrible a song that is for writers.  It's too idealistic, too full of that wide-eyed naivete.  It was the first time I really felt the Fab Four screwing with me.

I've also been thinking a lot about Ernest Hemingway over the last couple of days.  Most people probably associate him with passion.  I think of him as the most violent of men.  The man hunted, boxed, turned his liver into his bitch.  But I also think of him as a violent writer, and I started to think about how writing - good, consummate writing - is at its core an act of violence.

Hemingway's son John once said that writing was the one thing that his father couldn't live without.  The man could do without family time, and he often did.  He seemed to have a fragmented personality when it came to fatherhood; he was sometimes very warm and supportive, but when he was in his writing mode, everything else was simply shut out.

In fact, John Hemingway remarked that writing was the closest thing the man had to a religion.  He didn't always enjoy writing, but he was committed to it.  At five in the morning every day until noon, Ernest Hemingway was faithfully at the typewriter.  And he never left, even in his later life when people suspected that he was starting to lose his touch.

Hemingway is the man who hunted lions in Africa, caught the largest marlin of his day in the Gulf, almost got his ass blown off in World War I, and - I'll always remember this - derisively told Gertrude Stein that "a bitch is a bitch is a bitch".  He was bold, passionate, and in his own way, be it overt or subtle, he was violent.

Ernest Hemingway, "There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  But I'd also like to think that he imagined writing as facing a bull in Spain, each work a powerful beast looming before him.  If it were, he'd grab it by the horns and slam it into the dirt.  I think every writing, especially the struggling ones, would be wise to adopt that same sort of no-bullshit attitude.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Okay!  Fine!  I've done it!  I've signed up for membership to Duotrope.com!  My friend Allie has been bugging me for a while to sign up for it, and thanks to their Cyber Monday deal for a free first month's subscription, I gave in.

For the record, I've got no problem using Duotrope.  I have used it in the past, but when they began charging for membership, I felt like I had to stand my ground on that $5 per month because, frankly, I'm a stubborn jackass.  That was a long time ago, or at least it feels like it's been a long time.  It looks like the website's undergone a lot of change, so I feel like a bit of a novice all over again.

Here's what I do remember about Duotrope and what truly, finally made me give it and fork over the membership cash.

Duotrope is unlike any other website for writers.  It's a database of hundreds if not thousands of publications.  You can search through these publications by genre and sub-genre.  That all seems like pretty standard stuff.

But the Duotrope that I remember (and apparently the revamped version I see before me) are so much more than that.  The listing tells you which titles are the new ones, those that are more likely to be eager for incoming submissions.  For each listing in the database, the site tells you the likelihood of an acceptance over a rejection, the desired submission length, the pay rate, how they feel about style.  Some of them include average response times, but all seem to include a link to the publication's website for more information.

The listings even tell users where other submissions have been sent to as well as where acceptances have gone on to write for.  For example, if you look at the listing for Analog Science Fiction and Fact, you'll find that people who've submitted there have also sent their work to places like Strange Horizons and Tor.  People who've had their work accepted by Analog have had similar success with Interzone and Corvus.

Duotrope seems to have upgraded itself with even more goodies beyond the database, and I think this is probably why they've begun charging a fee.  In addition to the listings, members also have a submission tracker available to them to help keep an eye out on what they've got out floating around.  You can even choose to ignore certain publications if you'd like.  This is where I start going into the dark on because Duotrope didn't have a submission tracker when I last checked it out, so best of luck to both of us.

In any case, if you're not of the mindset that you need something like this, I say suck up your pride and just give in.  Duotrope's membership fee is just $5 per month or $50 per year, and is as useful a resource as Writer's Market.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


A friend of my pointed me in the direction of a magazine called Penumbra, that's posted their deadlines and submission themes pretty much for the next year.  I might be interested in writing something for five of those issues, and in all honesty, I'm really looking forward to it simply because of the short word count.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I enjoy writing.  I really do.  I wouldn't be doing all of this if that weren't the case.  But working on Undead and Inhuman tonight, getting to about 45% of the first draft, I damn near shouted, "God damn it!  Finish already!"  Thankfully, I'm in the middle of a local coffee shop and that would be way too embarrassing, but the sentiment is still there.  Penumbra, on the other hand, is looking for submissions running about 3,500 words rather than Blank Fiction's 15,000 behemoth.

I wish I knew why I was this antsy over Undead and Inhuman.  I don't think I ever got like this when I worked on longer fiction, but then again, maybe it has something to do with the approaching January 15th deadline.

Then again, maybe I'm just hopped up on coffee.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The other day, I listened to Episode 2 of Yuvi Zalkow's The Creative Turn podcasts in which he had a discussion with author Scott Sparling, author of the novel Wire to Wire.  This was mostly going on in the background while I was doing the whole "make sense of your workspace" thing, but somewhere in the mix of Jimi Hendrix and masterbation (and poop jokes), I heard Scott say...
I remember talking to someone recently who was saying, "Don't give yourself a deadline.  Just don't do that.  That's the worst thing you can do."  And as soon as she said that to me, I thought...'Cause I had told people September 2.  But I believed it.  I said, "No, it's got to be September 1 because...", and then I would trot out this reason.  And as soon as I heard this person say "Don't do that", I realized it's kind of like that stone on the beach.  The world doesn't really care whether I get this thing done by September 1 or not, so why don't I take that deadline away and give myself the time I need, and just doing that made it so much more enjoyable to write.
It might seem weird hearing me vouch for this piece of advice given my hard-on for deadlines fueled by my fear of death and knowing that I've got a limited time (hopefully a long limit).  For me, it's been, "Hey, you're almost thirty, so you've got to get shit done, or else you're going to end up as that guy styling himself as a writer without getting anything done."  And, boy, does that suck.

I think there's a sort of trade-off when it comes to following deadlines and ignoring them, and I think a writer's decision to go either way depends on this question: "Is a publisher waiting for this?"

For example, I'm working on Undead and Inhuman for Blank Fiction, right?  I haven't touched it in days.  Do I feel a little embarrassed by that?  Yes, of course.  Are the editors at Blank Fiction emailing me daily asking if it's done?  No.  There is a submission deadline, yes, but that's a no strings attached kind of deal.  If I don't get it done, there are no contractual or professional repercussions from it.  As a staff writer for Carpe Nocturne, however, I do have deadlines that need to be met, or, voluntary as the position is, I could be let go from the magazine.

Yuvi pointed out this notion of working on a piece of writing for ten years, similar to the fear I have that the writing will go nowhere without a deadline.  This is the other side of that coin, and I think you should self-impose a deadline on first drafts, but it's more like a probationary period to see if something does have staying power.  My rule of thumb is based on the size of the story in question...

The first draft of a 100,000-word novel should take six months.

The first draft of a 40,000-word novella should take two and a half months.

The first draft of a 17,000-word novelette should take one month.

The first draft of a 7,500-word short story should take two weeks.

The first draft of a 1,000-word flash fiction piece should take two days.

This is assuming there are no external factors getting in the way (relative dying, dealing with a prolonged illness, putting in overtime at your day job, watching your dog roll around on the floor, etc.).  If everything is going fairly smoothly, I don't think a first draft should run longer than the above allotments.  A failed novel killed at six months is less shameful than a failed novel killed at ten years.

Also, these are ONLY for first drafts.  Don't worry about a novel getting published in six months, because it simply won't.  That's another thing that Sparling said.  "Publishing is out of your control.  The only thing you can really control is getting to the end of the manuscript."

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Muse

We've all heard about artists and the muse, each with their own.  Andy Warhol had Edie Sedgwick.  Robert Mapplethorpe had Patti Smith.  Jean-Luc Godard had Anna Karina.  Dante had Beatrice.  I love hearing about this.  I really do.  You could say I'm a romantic at heart.

However, at brain...

Californication is one of my favorite shows.  Love it, hands down.  But there was something I noticed the other day that got my head rolling about the idea of the muse.  There's a character in Season 6 named Faith who is many things: groupie, drug addict, muse to rock stars.  There's even a part where Krull (played by Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols) says, "This is Faith.  Without her, there'd be no rock 'n' roll."  Really?  Rock 'n' roll was born in the '80s?  The BeatlesZeppelin?  Even Jones' very own Sex Pistols?  I suppose they were just figments of our imagination.

But I digress.  Point is, this idea of the muse as a singular individual is horse-shit.  I wish I could say that coming up with an idea was as simple as me going out with my girlfriend, getting into an argument, having make-up sex, and - boom! - there's an idea, but then that would mean I'm in a relationship, and that's a whole other barrel full of monkeys.

I'm not alone.  Stephen King jokingly described the muse as an overweight fairy with a bag of magic dust and a cigar poking out the side of his mouth.  And even then, he just sits on his ass while you do the work.  In his book Writing the Novel, Lawrence Block says, "My job, when I want ideas to bubble up, is to make sure the conditions [for inspiration] are right."

How these conditions are set up varies from person to person, so yes, in theory, being around an individual can be conductive to inspiration.  But then again, so can watching movies about writing, getting drunk at the local bar, or smoking pot with Miley Cyrus.

The idea of the muse - this image people have of a person set up on a pedestal - implies that an artist's creativity is not his own.  On another level, it implies that writing isn't work.  If writing is a hobby for you, then by all means, tell me to shut the fuck up.  In fact, your muse can tell me that.  But if you want to work as a writer, even for those little scrapes of money you do get, you have to force yourself into it at times, and that includes those days when there is no muse.  Because I don't think there really is a muse for a working writer.  There's just the job and the habit.

I like thinking about television writers when my mind wants to confront the fantasy of the muse, because a series isn't a one-shot deal.  The writers have to keep it going.  Tom Kapinos wrote almost every episode of Californication.  He co-wrote a few with other writers, and only seventeen episodes were penned by others.  So that means that 55 episodes had his direct input.  J. Michael Straczynski wrote almost all of his groundbreaking series Babylon 5 on his own.  I think he co-wrote only one episode with Harlan Ellison.

And to think that any writer could produce that amount of work solely on some sex puppet in a skimpy Tinkerbell outfit is ludicrous.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I've Been Up To

I've been feeling tired lately to the point where I'm not quite sure what day it is.  Maybe I'm just having a harder time than usual adjust to daylight savings time.  Anyways, here's a little rundown of what I've been up to lately...

I'm still working on my zombie novel, although there's been a pause in the writing this last month as I smooth out some more plot issues.  The title's also been changed again from Frantic to In the Dust of the Earth.  It comes from a Bible quote about the resurrection of the dead, and I felt it was really appropriate to the story.  I don't expect any other title changes.  I'm not going to mention anything else though, because frankly I'm getting kind of superstitious about my novel.  I've yammered about past attempts at a novel, and now I think that's a great way to jinx a book.  Say you're writing a book?  Yes.  Give a brief idea of what it is as far as genre?  Sure, why not?  But other than that, don't spoil it with too much talk.

Undead and Inhuman, one of my previous attempts at a novel, is back on the drawing board as a submission to Blank Fiction's sci-fi issue.  As such, it's radically different from how I initially thought it.  For one thing, it's a lot shorter.  The plot is completely different, but the basic conceit of vampires fighting aliens is still there.  I don't know what the submission deadline for it is, but I know Blank Fiction's sci-fi issue is after their upcoming noir issue.  The deadline for the noir issue is mid-January, so presumably the sci-fi deadline is some time after that.  Still, I want plenty of time for revisions, so Undead and Inhuman currently has priority over all my other fiction work.

Speaking of other fiction, my Andrew Ursler series is still alive.  I've submitted the fourth installment to Arts Collide, and got the fifth installment ready to go.  Also, I gave a reading of Part 2 - Grind - at Sunday's Roar Shack Series at 826LA in Echo Park.  The turnout was much smaller that the series usually gets.  There was another reading going on in LA that was kind of a big deal.  Regardless, it was one of my best readings so far.  I felt a lot more confident with Grind than I was with previous pieces, but I still got some of the microphone fear to get out of me.

Last but not least is my work for Carpe Nocturne.  I'm not sure if I'm supposed to say this, but I'm going to anyways: my reviews for the Chuck Wendig novel Double Dead and the 2010 apocalyptic film Stake Land are getting printed in the upcoming winter issue.  I mean, it was listed under the winter content in our recent staff newsletter, and I don't think there's any legal obligation for me to keep my mouth shut if they're on the list.  Soooooo...whatever.  The point is I'm really proud of them even though they're just a couple of small reviews.  This is only my first issue with the magazine, but I've enjoyed it so far.  The work is tough, but far from bad.  I get three months between deadlines and the only tricky part is fitting the word count; my reviews max out at 275.

Fun as it all is, though, it's time for me to get back to work.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TV and Long Narratives

Walking Dead fans, the Governor is back for a second term!  And before I get this post underway, I'm going to go ahead and air my theory: I think Bob Stookey is an agent sent by the Governor to weaken the Prison.  After weaponizing zombies, using the flu as a biological weapon sounds pretty much right up the Governor's ally.  Bob's also got medical training, so he'd know how to alleviate his symptoms; maybe he's even got a stash of medication hidden somewhere.  Also, he's been at the Prison only a week before the outbreak began.  Tidy little coincidence, huh?  But mostly, what's made him suspicious is how friendly he seems.  And as Merle pointed out in Season 3, "I think I'd piss my pants if some stranger come walking up with his mitts in his pockets."  So we'll see how it all pans out.  Maybe I'm right.  Maybe I'm wrong.

Now that my zombie nerdgasm has passed, let's talk about what TV has done for writing.

Justin Cronin said, "I think what's one of the things that's actually re-trained us to read long books is really good TV.  The Sopranos was sort of the breakthrough show, but everything from Mad Men to The Wire to shows like Lost have kept people's attention for really long periods of time, albeit with breaks of seven days and then months or even a year or two."  When he was growing up, Cronin said, the question of your favorite TV show was synonymous with the question of your preferred heroin.  Television, it seems, was just that low on people's list of pastimes.

Nowadays, TV is social glue.  We use it as an icebreaker at parties.  For example, last month, when I was at my alma mater Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks for the English Department reunion, one of my professors asked around the table, "When it comes to TV, what's your guilty pleasure?"  He's a fan of Sleepy Hollow.  I'm more partial towards The Walking Dead and Under the Dome.

But let's face it.  A long book isn't as easy to get through as a long TV show.  You can binge on a DVD of your favorite show and get through a season in a day.  Sometimes, it can take months to get through a long novel.

What can writer's learn from TV to keep their readers engaged?  First, I don't think TV and novels should be separated at all because novels used to be presented to the audience in a serialized fashion through pamphlets, novels like The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  These stories were presented in an episodic fashion and then later collected into a single volume, the DVD of their day.

Speaking for myself, I think it boils down to engaging characters and cliffhangers.  Sometimes, a novel can attract an audience by virtue of a controversial subject matter - which is why I think people followed Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray when it was serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine - but that, I believe, is a very rare fluke.  Subject matter alone has to be a very bold shot to the heart if that's the driving force of a story.

Cliffhangers propel the story through bursts of suspense leading one sub-story into another.  If you look at the first few episodes of the current season of The Walking Dead, the first episode involved a small sickness within the Prison, culminating with someone dying and reviving as a zombie.  That cliffhanger leaves you wondering what will happen next.  The people there don't know that there's a zombie locked in with them.  How will that play out?  The next episode ends in another cliffhanger with more and more people falling ill.  The episode after that, another cliffhanger with Carol coldly admitting she's killed some of the sick residents to keep the disease from spreading.  What's the fallout from that admission?

These cliffhangers serve one of two purposes: set-up or aftermath.  We finish one installment with the beginning with the seed of a crisis, and then want to follow along at least until the next part of the story to see that problem erupt.  Then another cliffhanger draws us into the episode after that, and another after that, and pretty soon, you've got a chain reaction that's grabbed the audience's attention.

As you draw people in through cliffhangers, you keep them there through the characters.  And the only way you build engaging characters is through time.  You can't expect the audience to be hooked on the characters just through the first installment.  In the pilot of The Walking Dead, you stay because of the cliffhanger with Rick trapped in the tank in Atlanta, and you want to see how he gets out of there.  Over time, you follow the characters, get to know more about them, and start to feel emotionally invested in them, leading to character-driven cliffhangers.  When Rick throws Carol out of the Prison at the end of the Indifference episode, it comes as a shock because Carol's been with the group since the beginning, and you saw how she changed from a very timid housewife in the first season to a rational survivalist in the fourth.  And you're kept at the edge of your seat because of two questions: what's going to happen to the group now that one of their most enduring members has been banished, and are we going to see Carol again?  Will we cross paths with this woman we've seen transform so dramatically over the years?

I'm using The Walking Dead here merely as an example, but you can apply this to any serialized story.  It would be a fun little exercise for you to watch reruns of your favorite show - especially the very, very first episodes where everything was new - and trace the staying power.  It could be Breaking Bad.  It could be Sons of Anarchy or Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire.  Even older shows like Babylon 5.  Creator and showrunner J. Michael Straczynski said it was meant to be a novel for television to try and rectify the problem of  lack of long-term planning that other series encountered.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Look at a Really Good Title

I've learned a lot already since I started taking this story analysis course at UCLA.  Like, stuff that's got me thinking in new directions about writing.  Like, stuff I'm probably going to share with you guys hoping that you'll learn something as well.

One of the biggest things to jolt me recently has been the power of a good title.  Now, I've said it before that I believe a good title is key to helping a story's success, but I didn't have a good enough example until last week when I was assigned to read the screenplay for Benny and Joon.  Yes, the romantic comedy starring Johnny Depp as a Buster Keaton wannabe.

So you're sitting there with the title page staring up at you.  Benny and Joon.  What's the first thing that pops into your mind?  Romance.  Because we've seen this boy-and-girl pairing many times before.  Romeo and Juliet.  Sid and Nancy.  You name it.  There's a precedence.  So you start off thinking that a guy named Ben and a girl named June are going to fall in love.

You open the story and are immediately introduced to Benny, a man's man.  June is introduced off-page through a phone call, but you don't hear her.  You just hear Benny talking her through the latest crisis: they're dangerously low on peanut butter!  Benny assure her that he'll pick some up on the way home.  The simplicity of the "emergency", the childishness of it, implies that June is a kid.  So you revise your supposition and think now that this is a father-daughter story, and June is Benny's daughter.

June finally appears and it's obvious that she's not Benny's daughter.  In fact, you learn that she's Benny's mentally-ill older sister.  That forces you to again rearrange the story in the back of your mind.  All from the title.  You've gone from lovers to parent and child to brother and sister.

There's something else in the title.  Notice how I've used the names June and Joon.  Why?  Because of the Johnny Depp character Sam, a talented physical comedian whose dyslexia causes him to mispell June's name in a letter he tries writing to his mother.  Looking back at the title, you realize that it's actually highlight both the main (the brother-sister relationship between Benny and June) plot and the subplot (the romantic affair between Sam and June).

If anyone asks me for a prime example of a really good title, this film will be it.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately isn't just how you come up with a title but why you come up with it.  The title isn't just a label for the story.  It's a part of the story itself.  It's part of that hook at the beginning that draws you in.  So the first thing a title has to do is intrigue the audience.  Think about Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.  A war that literally lasts forever?  But it's told in a finite number of pages.  How does that work?  That's the intrigue.

More important than the intrigue is the tone and the genre that the title establishes.  Benny and Joon does sound like a romance.  Light romance or dark romance?  Light, because the alternate title of Benjamin and Juniper sounds much more formal and serious.

There also needs to be a measure of suspense, which is different from intrigue.  Intrigue merely catches your curiosity.  Suspense shows you some of the story, but only a sliver of it.  It raises expectations in the audience.  A title like Frankenstein has become synonymous with horror.  You know it's going to end up being about science gone haywire.  Let's try something a little less known.  There's a French novel called Against Nature written by Joris-Karl Huysmans.  I haven't read it yet.  It's on my bookshelf waiting for me.  I know that it was a major inspiration to Oscar Wilde when he wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray.  But that title - Against Nature - does sound suspenseful because you know right away that something terrible is going to happen, something that goes against the very grain of humanity, and so you read to find out what that horrible action is.

Also, irony is a good element to have in a title.  I'm thinking of the Roman Polanski film Carnage that, despite the name, isn't set on a battlefield but rather an apartment as the parents of two quarreling boys try to talk through their differences, only to end up making vicious verbal attacks at each other.

A title doesn't need to have all of these things - premise, tone, genre, suspense, and irony - but it should at least have premise, tone, and genre.  Put some thought into this because although a good title can't save a bad story, a bad title can kill a good one.