1. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    How do you think of a title?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tamsin, Feb 25, 2010.

    I find it really difficult to come up with decent titles for my stories.

    They end up sounding either too cheesy, too abstract or not very interesting.

    Has anyone got any tips or help before I complete yet another 'Untitled' ?!

    :confused:
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't worry too much about the title. You can always add a title after your work is finished. In the meantime, you can call your piece whatever you want until you think of a better title. For example, you can use the name of a character or a theme. I usually come up with the title as I write or after I am done writing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. It does help to have a working title, but the final tital should be among the last things you settle on. Even if you have a title in mind from the outset, you should keep an open mind for a better one by the time your manuscript is complete.
     
  4. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    My first novel, which is half-way through the second draft (rewrite), is on its third working title, and I'm still not happy with the name. I'll refuse to let it worry me until I have a complete, fully edited manuscript ready to send to agents or publishers and I still don't know what to call it!
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Using a working title is what I do, and often that title is what sticks. But when I am pondering and outlining the story, the title, even if it's a working title, is part of the process.

    I try to pick a short title if possible, one that gives some information/insight with respect the story/novel, but not too much.

    Picking a title, I guess, is somewhat of an art that includes marketing, describing content, and the individual writer's voice.

    Terry
     
  6. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    So far, I've been calling my books "Book 1", "Book 2", "Book " and only worrying about proper titles when I start submitting. Then I usually rope in everyone who has read the story and we brainstorm.
     
  7. Tigress
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    Tigress Member

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    I am six chapters into my first novel and I have no idea what the title will be. At first that bothered me and then I decided to let it go... the story is the main thing. Get it out and worry about the title once it's done. I have a feeling the title will come once the story's been told. :)
     
  8. Dee_xx
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    Dee_xx Member

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    After I've finished the entire story, the title usally just comes to me...
     
  9. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually take something thats relevant to the story, theme, or characters.

    I titled one short story The Notebook, because the MC was writing in a notebook over the course of a month. You are not told what she writes in it until the very end. It represents how the character saw themself.

    In my NaNoWriMo Novel I titled it 'Becoming Dead' because the idea of it was over the course of the story and dealing with a Zombie Apocalypse the MC was Dying. Not in the sense that he would become a zombie or would take the dirt nap, but his death was more of a metaphor.

    Usually the title just comes to me once I really start thinking of the story and characters.

    But I wouldn't worry about the title until you finished it and never consider a title set in stone. You should focus more on the story itself.

    Not sure if this helps or not. But good luck. :)
     
  10. ColleenKelley
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    ColleenKelley New Member

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    I started my novel with the intent of it being the first in a trilogy about 3 sisters, so I called it "Samara", which is the heroine's name. But since I started writing I discovered that not only do the other 2 sisters not demand the telling of their own stories in subsequent books, but the real main character in this book is my hero, and not my heroine. So my trilogy's down the toilet and so is my title, lol! I'll just think about it when (if) I finish the story. But I'm keeping "Samara" as the working title.
     
  11. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    My Rules For A Title:

    1. Don't be worried about getting it wrong, its a working title at the moment and can be changed.
    2. It should convey a message to the target audience, check out books of a similar genre.
    3. Be original. 'The Dark Forest' or ' The Fobidden Room' is hardly going to draw anyone in.
    4. Can the title be read into? A second meaning? An emotion? Another depth?
    5. Punchy...no more than 4 words.
    6. Does it sum up your story, provide an introduction to your story or provide a hidden message that becomes clear once the story has been read, that will give the reader extra sense of satisfaction?
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a comedy literary quiz on BBC Radio 4 called The Write Stuff, and one question last week (probably still available to Listen Again on the web) related to original titles of books that the publisher insisted be changed. Unless the title is important to the book as you are writing it (eg, Raymond Smullyan's book on logic, "What is the name of this book") then don't sweat about it.
     
  13. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    One problem I have is that I write in Swedish, but I have a much easier time thinking of titles in English.

    This lead to a peculiar dilemma in my current project, as I have the perfect title in English, but it can't be translated into Swedish since the key word that makes it all work doesn't seem to exist in my native language.
     
  14. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    For me, I usually come up with a title at the same moment I come up with the story. The two just pop into my head hand in hand.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i never have any trouble with titles, as my work always seems to title itself... but here's something that might help you...

    write down the premise of your story in 25 words or less [called a 'logline' in the movie trade]... that should give you some ideas for a title...

    or look for a phrase or a word somewhere in your work that sums up the story nicely and will work as a title...
     
  16. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    wow mammamaia. 25 words or less? Is that possible? Can you give an example of how that works?

    PS would I find your book links in your signature of interest?
     
  17. ManOfSteel
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    ManOfSteel Member

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    Check any movie on the IMDb. For example, The Terminator's plot is:
     
  18. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about ten words? Consider:
    Two guys move in together; ones neat the other's a slob.

    (For those who may not recognize it, (though that would be 'odd') here's a clue. It made a fortune for Neil Simon, Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau, Tony Randall & Jack Klugman ...) And the publisher bought it on that alone!
     
  19. best_fullback
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    best_fullback Member

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    Yeah as everyone else has said, working title is usually the way I go.

    Upon commencing writing the story something abstract/meaningful/symbolic may come to you that will be better than the names that just don't feel right.

    I am writing a WWII Novel at the moment and I still can't think of anything meaningful to call it. Likewise, I have other planned novels that I already have titles for, so there is no exact science. Just keep writing!
     
  20. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    Thanks I will definitely try that. :)
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sure it does... otherwise it wouldn't be a must for screenplay queries... it's not quite the same as what man of steel used for an example, however... in a logline, no character names are used, unless a major character is a historical figure... the one supplied by wordsmith is a classic...

    i can only hope so... you can find blurbs on my website, in the 'other works' part of the 'writings' section... i'll be glad to send them either as e-books, or 'real' ones by post... though i can't send the 'mother's guide' in hard copy, as i'm all out and can't afford a second printing till next month...

    hugs, m
     
  22. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    How to come up with the perfect title:

    Step one: Pick the level of awesomeness you want for your title.

    Step two: Stay up for three nights wishing on every shooting star that a title of the disired level will come to you.

    Step three: Set aside a quarter hour every day for seven days dedicated to title pondering, based on the wording of the wishing of the past three nights.

    Step four: Write a detailed letter to the Title Gods (related to the Tetris Gods, if you were wondering) outlining the results of your title ponderings.

    Step five: If your are lucky you will receive your title via a dream ten day after you've sent your letter.

    Step six: If you are unlucky you will receive you title by Express Post 28 business days after you've sent your letter for the reasonable fee of $39.99. Plus shipping.

    All jokes aside, now. There is no set formula to get the perfect title for any story. Sometimes they come and hit you over the head, other times they sneak around waiting for you to discover them. Titles are tricky little buggers. They aren't something I'd worry too terribly much about. As others have said, some publishers make you change them anyway.
     
  23. danadear
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    danadear New Member

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    wait until your piece is finished. Go over the poem or if it's a long story, go over the basis in your head and think of something crafty. I like to do a play on words. Like, in college I wrote a report about the suicide increase in women in the 1950s, due to them staying home and The Feminine Mystique. The title was "How was MY day, dear"

    i also wrote another one about society's views of too skinny models and its affects on the younger generation...it was called Bulimic Barbie. To me, both being effective and already grabbing the audience just with the title. Good luck and I hope you come up with a way that works for you.
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Step seven: Your publisher changes it anyway.
     
  25. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    LOL! How could I have forgotten that last most important step? ;)
     

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