1. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    How do you discover a title?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by rhduke, Mar 23, 2013.

    For some, finding a title for a piece of writing can be a very thoughtful process, for others, the title was the first thing that sparked their inspiration in the first place.

    Through what process do you come up with the title for your book, short story or poem?
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never know the titles of my big projects. For short stories I usually associate a song with a piece of writing and I find a fitting line of verse to use for a title like "Don't call me daughter" or "Comfortably Numb" or some such.
     
  3. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    generally i start with a working title to spark my ideas, and as the piece progresses, i find that the name may not suit where its headed, i don't plan a great deal, mostly just the character and a few odd things about the plot, so it takes a more natural form. i may go through several titles before settling on one...

    music is a huge influence on how i write in general, even for longer pieces, i tend to stick to one genre (or in my case su-genre) of music to work the idea effectively
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Titles often suggest themselves, a compelling word or phrase from the text of the story once it is completed. Some writers - and I'm one of them - like to have a working title. I usually start with a functional title, then change as the project takes shape. I started my current project with the dull but serviceable title of "Historical", then as I decided on some specifics in the story, including the name of the focal character, I changed it to "Rosa". Now, I estimate I'm not quite halfway through the first draft and I've settled on "Rosa's Secret", which I still regard as a working title but which I may very well keep when it comes time to query agents.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For me, titles often suggest themselves when a story idea germinates. But wordplay is one of my great delights, to the often groaning dismay of those around me.

    Still, I keep my mind open to change. However much I may like a title, I try to consider alternatives when the story is completed.
     
  6. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    For titles of most of my stories i used the jobs that each of the characters has and i use that as a title.
     
  7. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Usually i can come up with names for things right off the bat (usually characters), and sometimes it takes longer for others such as the unifying name for a series instead of each individual book. I pick the most important thing in the story, say, a short story i have written for a contest recently (going to districts!) and it involves a young water nymph and a human girl. the whole story is framed through what she remembers of her day with the water nymph before he oddly vanishes never to be seen again (not a sad story), and so since it has a water theme and is seen through memories, i picked "Reflections of the Past".

    oftentimes, you may find some titles work just as well as others (still at war with myself to choose either "The Starshade's Legacy" or "The Legacy of the Starshade".)
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I like to keep my titles relatively short. They come pretty much as the idea evolves - even before I start writing but
    not always. Some titles have been ditched in exchange for other titles. My one novel has gone through about
    five title varitions and counting.

    The titles can be a word that pops up frequently in the story, something that reflects
    the story, the name of a character or town or something from a poem or quote. I never stress a title. My short story
    Fishstix started merely under the heading of fish creature story. And wasn't named till nearbouts the end.

    One title sparked a story - I was tweaking the word lipstick to lipstuck which helped me come up with a
    short horror story.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I need working titles. I just can't write a word until I have a title at the top of the page. My working titles are usually extremely simple, e.g. "The Gun", "The Compass", etc. Sometimes the working title stays and becomes the final title. Other times a new, much better title comes during the composition process. My novel's working title was simply "The Victory", but when I began the second draft a new title came to me that is so perfect, and, in my view, so beautiful that I'm not going to reveal it here - it's MINE and you can't have it!
     
  10. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I always base it around the central tone and conflict, like my current book From Russia, With Scorn which is based around a man who takes revenge on his Russian mob family for killing his American mother and almost killing him as a child

    So, for me, the title From Russia, With Scorn truly captures the tone of the story and people will know where its headed. You also see that it's also a variation of the ever popular From Russia with Love so that adds to the appeal in some ways. A title has to capture someone's attention as well as try and hint the story in some way in my opinion
     
  11. TheLeonard112
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    TheLeonard112 Sūpākūru Senpai

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    As you said for some people it's easy. For me it usually is. But to come up with a good title you should think through the premise of the story. What's it about? What is the tone of the story, dark, fun, comedy, action, adventure, fantasy, realistic fiction. Then make the name something that fits into the genre. Usually the title is after a character, event, place, or object in the story. And if not after any of that make it a phrase that fits with the story, or a phrase said by a character.
     
  12. Sandbream Devermann
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    Sandbream Devermann New Member

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    My favorite titles usually end up being sentences or phrases from the story which seem to sum up the meaning. For example His to lose or No one knew that Eddie had a gun Most of my other titles are short and sum up the main theme or character.
     
  13. Thom
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    Thom Member

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    For me, sometimes, hearing or thinking of an interesting turn of phrase can become the title itself, and even suggest the entire idea of the book that is to follow.
    Other times, it's a working title that may change a dozen times before all is settled. And as has been stated previously, a bit dialog from the story itself could be used.

    The one I'm writing now, called 'First to Battle,' has been the title all along and actually helped decide what the story was going to be.
    I don't recall exactly how it came about, except that it started with someone's CGI. It showed a pair of computer generated ships, trailing plasma and curving around a
    moon's pockmarked surface.

    What I don't recall was if the artwork was titled 'First to Battle' or if I thought of it myself. It's been a while. But I do know that the entire story actually evolved from
    that one image.

    It just goes to show that a title can come from anywhere, and stand the test of time - and varying story ideas...

    Thom.
     
  14. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Hmm some interesting thoughts. I like this one because it seems to be the most practical:

    When I think about a title for my short stories, it's usually after I've written it. As someone else mentioned, I really try to get the tone right with the title, because in a way, you are creating a reader's expectation with it. If the title is sort of funny, then the reader will go into the story expecting to be humoured. If you don't deliver, you're setting up their disappointment.
     
  15. Oswiecenie
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    Oswiecenie Active Member

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    I have never given any of my stories a proper title. Finding a title is close to impossible for me, no idea why.
     
  16. Lokasenna
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    Lokasenna Member

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    My works usually go through several titles before I decide on a final one. Quite often, I pick a favourite phrase from the work and have that as the title.
     
  17. doghouse
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    doghouse Member

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    I was given some advice once. Always title your work, even in drafting stage -- give it an identity.

    Afterall, you can change it whenever you like. It is also said, that it is common to title your work based on the thematics of the story -- to give the potential reader an idea of what it could be about.

    Personally, titles will echo what the story is about. Before I write, I know the ending -- a title comes quick, and mostly sticks. I forget about it and move on; draft.
     
  18. punchthedamnkeys
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    punchthedamnkeys Member

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    i was thinking of using my story's main theme and somehow symbolizing it through something really random in the story. like "catcher in the rye" for example.

    that way i fool people in thinking i'm some kind of genius... i'm serious by the way.
     

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