Titles of Blood
A classic series title generator
By Zoltán Déry
Titles of Blood originally appeared in TSV 73 in May 2006. Zoltán's classic series title generator is an unusual but fun piece, and it was Jamas Enright in the following issue nearly a year later who put it to practical use with his Drabble Who Challenge.
Jamas' Drabble Who Challenge also forms part of the TSV online sampler 1 and as the best Drabbles will be published in future issues of TSV, we present Titles of Blood online a little earlier than normal.
The online generator works the same was as the original, with "dice" rolls selecting tables and words to construct your title. As you work down the page, tables that cease to be relevant to your title construction grey out with each dice roll, until you can assemble the completed title down the bottom.
I look forward to seeing some of your Drabbles!
This article was originally written before the return of Doctor Who to our screens, as an aid to hard-pressed writers of spin-offs, whether in the form of novels, comic strips, Big Finish audios, or other spin-offs such as the BBV productions. However, it has since become even more useful, as it examines the title conventions of the "classic" series (dread phrase). I feel that the writers of the new series have fallen down badly in the area of titles. The title should sing of adventure, of intrigue, persuading the casual viewer to invest their time in the programme, or, in the case of the spin-offs, invest their hard earned cash. As much as I enjoyed Father's Day and Dalek, the titles really did not do justice to what followed.
Thus I have set about the frankly bizarre task of constructing the "Déry Mark I Random Title Generator". This alarming construct will enable hard-pressed writers to create new titles with a few rolls of a standard six-sided die. (Giving us, for instance, Horror of the Reapers or The Nightmare of Time for Father's Day.)
In researching this article (and yes, I really did research this gibberish), I have discovered that there are seven different types of Doctor Who title:
Historically there seem to be distinct phases for titles. Oddly enough, the first of what I think of as the typical sort of Doctor Who titles, (Type 1. The X of the Y) is The Power of the Daleks. (Although if you want to get technical, The Roof of the World, the first episode of Marco Polo is constructed this way.) The last of this sort of title is The Mark of the Rani. There are, in fact, only five titles with this construction, four of them in two seasons of the Troughton era. Actually the most typically Doctor Who titles are: Type 2. X of the Y, used from Day of the Daleks to Remembrance of the Daleks, and Type 3. The X of W, used from The Keys of Marinus to The Curse of Fenric.
Note that these tables do not allow titles in the style of Spearhead from Space or The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, as titles of this sort are generally an exception. In the above list, X is usually a noun. Y is usually the name of a species, sometimes the name of a location. W is usually a specific location, sometimes a noun. A is usually a noun or an adjective, sometimes a location or a species. B is usually a noun. Z is usually the name of the main species. The one word titles are usually two words joined together (C and D). The following tables use these rules, with entries taken from the series where possible, but with a few additions where required. Different entries can easily be substituted where necessary. So, if your monsters are called the Bloboids, use this instead of any name from the table. (It would be strange to call something Terror of the Daleks if no Daleks appear). To use the title generator, roll a die, consult table One, and then roll on the appropriate tables, cross-referencing rolls where appropriate. Note that there is no Table Z. Just use the name of the main society, monsters, event or location. This will give you a title like The Aztecs, The Ice Warriors, Inferno or Logopolis.
Tables and Auto-generator
Here are some sample results from the "Déry Mark I Random Title Generator" (rolled as I sit typing this, and I promise not to cheat to make them better):
Roll: 3. "X of W"; Roll 2 and 4: X5 - Roll 1: STONES. Roll 2 on table W. Roll 4 on W1: DEATH. Which makes Stones of Death. Now that is what I call a Doctor Who title, if I say so myself.
Roll 1: "The X of the Y"; Roll 2, 3. Roll on table X4: 6 - IMAGE. Roll on table Y: 3. Roll on table Y1: 6 - SPIDERS. The Image of the Spiders? Nicely melodramatic, but not brilliant.
Roll 2: "X of the Y"; Roll 3,5. Roll on X7: 2 - TRIAL. Roll on table Y: 5. Roll on table Y2: 1 - ZYGONS. Trial of the Zygons. Again, not bad, and at least I haven't got any of those The Evil of Evil possibilities.
For the last two I shall pick which style of title I want: a one word (C D) and a The A B type.
Roll on C: 2 - EARTH. Roll on D: 4 - DANCE. Earthdance. Utter nonsense, but no worse than Earthshock or most of the titles from that particular era.
Roll on table A/B: 1,6. Roll on table A3: 3 - INVISIBLE. Roll on table A/B: 1,5. Roll on table B3: 3 - ASSASSIN. The Invisible Assassin. I'd want to know more about that story!
This system could also be used to roll up the title first, as I did with the title of this article. And other words could be added or substituted for those in the tables. Have fun!
This item appeared in TSV 73 (May 2006).