Writing interesting essay titles from dramatic headlines

I love this idea of turning dramatic headlines into an essay title or argument. I think it could work so well for A-Level and high-target GCSE students to make their writing really interesting and unusual.

Here’s the theory:

Take a headline – search online sources like buzzfeed (avoid the listicle!!), Guardian’s editorial columns, and the Atlantic in particular, but there are so many online magazine sources that would be brilliant.

Make a quick list. Here’s some to get you started.

  • How the creators of Frozen the Musical really need to just “Let it Go”
  • American Democracy Is in Crisis
  • Fortnite: Battle Royale does one thing so much better than TUBG

Unpick the structure and ideas of some of these headlines.

How the creators of Frozen the Musical really need to just “Let it Go”

  • Using a quotation from the film
  • Promise to reveal something in the “how”
  • really need” suggesting a sense of urgency and conflict.

Then how can that be turned into an argument or discussion about a text? Let’s try with one from the GCSE specification. It gets a bit easier at that level to put a theme or character in front of it as well.  

How Hector and Irwin are both without a doubt the ‘enemies of education’.

Mrs Lintott: how the only female teacher is “carrying the bucket” for her male colleagues’ failures.

American Democracy is in crisis

  • Short, dramatic and maybe a little hyperbolic
  • Starts with the theme or idea
  • Ends with evaluation

Macbeth is a tyrant from the beginning.

Banquo is a coward.

Fortnite: Battle Royale does one thing so much better than TUBG

  • Topic: Comparison does one thing so much better than

Wealth: West Egg does it so much better than East Egg.

Education: the Headmaster’s views are more realistic than Irwin or Hector.

Religion: Rossetti’s comfort, and her trauma.

Here’s a list of headlines for you to have a go with:

  • The lofty optimism of Spotify and the influence of the streaming revolution.
  • Sometimes fighting climate change means breaking the late.
  • Game of thrones: The things we do for love.
  • How Paulinho – yes, Paulinho – saved Barcelona
  • Stephen Hawking was a living metaphor for the scientific endeavour
  • Baseball hall of fame is broken – but not in the way you might think
  • Steven Spielberg’s oblivious, chilling pop culture nostalgia in ‘Ready Player One’

What do you think?