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                  Story's all done. Now what the heck am I gonna call it?



When it comes to writing, I like to start with the title.

I do this for two reasons: Firstly, for me at least, coming up with a good name for a finished story can prove jolly difficult. I would liken it to trying to name your child or pet after they've lived with you for a couple of years - Mind you, at least with stories you can actually remember the names later. I can't tell you how many times I've called one of my three children by the wrong name.

As with most things, I learned this particular lesson the hard way (I mean about naming stories, not children). My first book was originally called The Garrulous Cat. Later, I changed it to A Cat of Nine tales Book One: Fur-Face, before eventually settling on plain old Fur-Face. Caused me all manner of stress and heartache, I can tell you.

After that, I changed my approach to one I used to use for songwriting ie: brainstorming title ideas first, then coming up with lyrics to fit.

There's nothing like a good title to light a creative fire beneath the old imagination. All three of my current WiPs (Waking up Jack Thunder, Abraham Lincoln Stole My Homework and Dead Doris) began as nothing more than titles. Sure, there's always a chance a publisher will want to call your book something else when they accept it, but provided the title fits with the finished story and it hasn't already been taken elsewhere, I don't think you need worry too much.


Of course, as with all things writerly, just because something works for one person doesn't necessarily mean it'll work for another. It's really about discovering what works best for you (and then doing it...a lot).



How about you?

How do you come up with story and book titles?



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Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
beth_bernobich
Apr. 21st, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
How do I come up with titles? Usually with much pain and suffering and staring at walls. Some stories deliver the title along with themselves, but those are rare cases. For the hard cases, I dig through poetry to find the right phrase, or I look for some telling phrase and/or theme in the story itself.

jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
It's funny. You'd think titles were the easy bit :)
(no subject) - beth_bernobich - Apr. 21st, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mary_j_59 - Apr. 21st, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 21st, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 21st, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
snapes_angel
Apr. 21st, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
The question for me is not how I come up with them, but hen they'll give me some peace and quiet. :e I can't write everything at once.
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
Lol, it might be fun to try :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Apr. 21st, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
knittingknots
Apr. 21st, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I look at what I'm writing, think about it for a moment or two, and call it something, usually based on what it's generally about, or some key idea within it. But then, I have hundreds of short pieces - poems and flashfic and short stories - to give me lots of practice. It wore the fear of making titles quite away.
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
For me, it's not so much a fear as it is a pain :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Waking up Jack Thunder
'...please wake up your editor and tell him/her to get started on this one.'


Lol, I haven't submitted it to anyone yet. If I get Abe Lincoln... and Dead Doris submitted by the end of the year, my reward is to polish up WuJT
Sue Wentz
Apr. 21st, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
It took me five days just to name my cat!

Usually when a plot of mine is still in the embryonic stage, I'll give it an off-the-cuff working title just because I need a file name. Sometimes the working title sticks and sometimes it doesn't.

Right now one of my WIP's is called TIMELESS, which must be a super title because a bazillion other authors have already used it. That's one I'll most likely want to change. (I'm sort of hoping that inspiration strikes, or the Earth gets hit by a giant meteor or something and I won't have to sweat too much over the renaming process.)

On the other hand, I do have another WIP in which the title and plot popped into my brain simultaneously. I call that one EVERY THREE WEEKS and I think it's going to be a keeper.
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
Simultaneous plot idea AND title = :)
melissajm
Apr. 21st, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
Unless the title itself inspires the story, I use a "placeholder title" until the story's written, then try to come up with a title that grows from what I've got.

My current "placeholder" is "Another Bloody Cinderella Story" Which I'd use, if the story weren't more serious and less horrific than that implies.
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it would help or hinder, but I think there's a movie called Another Cinderella Story.
bogwitch64
Apr. 21st, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
I generally have a title before I start. I don't always like it! But I need one. I just do.

BTW--were your ears ringing today? I used your "I are a writer" pen at my writers' group meeting today, and the ladies remarked upon it. I then went into a rant about Fur-Face and how it should be mandatory reading for everyone under age twelve. EVERYWHERE. :)
jongibbs
Apr. 21st, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
Lol, thank you! :)
karen_w_newton
Apr. 22nd, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
It varies. I have used phrases from the text of the book (Shades of Empire, Where Magic Rules, This Nameless World) and I have used phrases that incorporate themes in the story (The Nostalgia Gambit, for a novel where the protagonist who yearns for the past learns to play chess, and "Cold Comfort" for a short story about a woman who turns to her talking refrigerator for emotional support). I like some of my titles more than others. I like to say that writing is always a bear, but writing titles is a grizzly bear.
jongibbs
Apr. 22nd, 2012 10:25 am (UTC)
I like the 'Cold Comfort' one :)
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Apr. 22nd, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 22nd, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
roninangel
Apr. 22nd, 2012 05:34 am (UTC)
AW - i feel all special - like you totally wrote this post just for me (even though i'm not going to allow myself to be so egotistical to think you did) - still it is VERY nicely relevant as i'm working to title one of my current WIP's - now to trudge through the comments! =D

(thank you thank you thank you for this post!)
jongibbs
Apr. 22nd, 2012 10:27 am (UTC)
Lol, I hope you find people's answers helpful :)
msstacy13
Apr. 22nd, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
The piece of crap unpublished WWII bomber crew novel
got its title while I was digging up info.
A ball turret gunner who survived his 25 missions
had written a bit about it,
and began his account with a quote from the concluding canto
of Dante's Inferno,
where Dante and Virgil are leaving hell,
and Dante is trying to explain how it felt,
being neither alive or dead, but emerging from a place of death.

Usually, I use a line from a poem or song,
which also serves as a focal point for the work...
jongibbs
Apr. 22nd, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a workable plan to me :)
chant_1
Apr. 22nd, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
I love posts like this one, Jon! I really enjoy reading about how other peoples' minds work. For me, I do what someone else mentioned, and usually come up with a placeholder title that is relevant to the story. Afterwards, I brainstorm for the perfect title: something again relevant, and yet intriguing. It's not easy, and I don't ever fancy myself a good namer, at least at stories. I always feel like I'm too close to do it justice. Does that make sense? I'm intrigued by those of you who need a title before they can write, though. Similarly, I've heard people say they need the perfect first line before they can write a story. Awesome!
jongibbs
Apr. 22nd, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
It takes all sorts, right? :)
Marie Gilbert
Apr. 22nd, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
I
I truly love your blogs, and like you, come up with the name of the story before the story. I just go with my gut feeling and type the title on the page.
jongibbs
Apr. 22nd, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: I
Thanks for the kind woirds, Marie. They're much appreciated :)
bondo_ba
Apr. 23rd, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
How... Not sure, but I know I can't even write the first sentence until the bold characters in larger type of the title font have been filled in. No way, no how.
jongibbs
Apr. 23rd, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
Well, it certainly seems to work for you, Gustavo :)
dmoonfire
Apr. 25th, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC)
Usually, I start with the crux of the story or what leads up to the climax. And then pick a title based on that.

So, the original title of "Flight of the Scions" was "Wind, Bear, and Moon" because I had three teenagers, one who got wind powers, one that shapeshifted, and the third which was a healer. Of course, in the rewrite, I basically dropped the moon bit and made them an engineer instead. :) (I also changed it because WordPress doesn't like commas in tags.)

Same with "Victim of Love" and "Best of Enemies". I know where the story is going to end up, so I pick a title second and it usually sticks.
jongibbs
Apr. 25th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
Sounds like it's working for you, Dylan :)
(no subject) - dmoonfire - Apr. 25th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

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