1. misaditas
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    misaditas Member

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    Titling your work

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by misaditas, Oct 29, 2008.

    I can't come up with a title for my WIP and it's driving me crazy. Usually I'm okay at naming things (and yes, I need a name before I start writing).

    I'm not after advice but distraction, so I'm wondering:

    • How do you decide on a name for your story?
    • Do you decide on a name beforehand, midway or afterwards?
    • How willing are you to change a title once you've come up with it?
     
  2. ManicParroT
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    ManicParroT Contributing Member

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    I try and think of a title that relates to the story, and is snappy and short. I usually think of it before, since I know what I want to write, but I'll often use a working title and change it later.
     
  3. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    I have so much trouble naming things! Wah!
    Usually, they'll have 3 or 4 names before I'm even half way through. Then I just give up and give them silly names like 'Tom's Story' or abbreviations like TSWNH (the story where nothing happens) which is equally unhelpful.

    Luckily, it doesn't really bother me what they're called but if i even finish one, I reckon I'd be up a creek sans paddle. I might let my proof-readers name it instead.
    And I'm always willing to change to something better!

    Indecisive is my middle name! :D
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually think of an overall theme or a relevant phrase that gets repeated. In my current project, the MC is in conflict between being totally human and pixies wanting to keep her in Faerie. She always refers to being human as "the human side," so my title ended up being The Human Side of Things.
     
  5. misaditas
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    misaditas Member

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    I came up with a title... and considerably more plot into the bargain. Huzzah.

    Usually I name stories after song titles and lyrics. 9 times out of 10 I have one song that I listen to as I write as it fits the theme of the story and therefore the title grows from that.

    Seriously I cannot write unless I have music on (at the moment it's Man on the Moon by REM) and I've already been gathering songs for my 'soundtrack' for NaNo.

    I'm a very odd creature :D
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    1. It varies. I'll often take it from something in the story itself, whether a phrase or just the general subject of the story (if a shorter story), or it'll be related to the title of the previous work (if in a series).

    An example of the latter, my current series is set in a location called Manitou Island so the stories' names have been

    Manitou Island
    Return To Manitou Island
    Escape From Manitou Island
    Beneath Manitou Island
    etc....

    Granted, I'm betting my titles aren't the most interesting in the world, but they get me by. *shrug*

    2. With my longer works it's usually before, but that's only because I tend to mull over longer works for quite a while (and the title comes to me during this time) before actually writing them. With shorter stories the title usually comes during the writing or, if it's being difficult, when I'm done.

    3. Not very willing at all. I almost never change a title once I've come up with one. I see no need to, seeing as there's nobody out there demanding that I do so.

    I should say that I'm not trying to get published so having a publisher or editor or whatever change a title is not an issue for me.
     
  7. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I can't write a story without having a title, even if it's extremely vague at first. Usually from the title I derive a theme and then work off of that. Of course, the title will more than likely change by the end to better fit the direction of the story, but there needs to be something to start with.

    Usually my titles come about just from something I hear or read that sounds like it would make a good title. Sometimes I'll use a bit of song lyrics or a song title, but usually it will be something random.

    As for willingness to change the title, if I can come up with something that better fits or better captures the essence of the story, I won't hesitate to change it. I haven't dealt with agents/publishers at all, so I don't know all the details in that regard, but I might be a little wary to change it from something really meaningful to something marketable and shallow. Of course, if the marketable title still has some level of depth I doubt I'd mind too much.

    My 2 cents.
     
  8. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    My current novel has been in the works for about two or three years and just got a title a month ago. I don't even like the title, but I needed something to call it by, otherwise it's like the elephant in the room that no one aknowledges. Titles may change, but I don't like nameless things.

    On a side note, I name every chapter I write. The novel as a whole has many themes and sub-plots, so it's difficult to come up with a title that embodies it all, but naming individual chapters is much easier and keeps me focused as I write them.
     
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I title the chapters in most of my stories too, though usually only after I've written them. If I titled them beforehand, I'd be way off! (I write without an outline, making it up as I go along, so I can never tell what the title of a chapter should be until it's finished.)
     
  10. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    As I write, it often just pops into my head. Sometimes it works to read my story again and think about what title will fit...

    ??? Whenever I get it (the title name)...it varies
    Depends on what my title is. If it's a boring one...very! If it's an excellant one...then it depends on what the changed title is...
     
  11. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you know, Misadatis, I have never officialy named any of my longer peices of work. For poems I usually just take a line from the poem which I think sounds catchy and use that, and for short stories again, I take an effective line.

    However, off all my novels, I have never actually named them, I tend to give them a work title, like "school story" and "monsters attack" so that I know which are which.
     
  12. misaditas
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    misaditas Member

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    Titles help when you want to post the piece in question ;)
     
  13. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    Out of my 2 finished novels, one of them the title was the 1st thing i came up with, and i just started writing and made the story up from the title and the 1st couple of chapters (which seems amazing to me now :confused:). The other one never had a title, until a while after i had finished it i just decided to forever leave it as the thing i called it because it didnt have a name - which was the name of the (fantasy) city it was set in. So i am split half and half for ones that have been finished. However the several abandoned beginnings and the one almost but not quite finished, as well as my current work in progress, have all been untitled.

    Also, usually i try to name my chapters, as i quite like named chapters. However normally i end up having names i really want to use for some bits, and then i am left struggling to name all the other chapters.

    As for how i decide on the title and how willing i am to change it... well the only real title i ever had was just one i came up with from the very start. I would not change that title. I probably wouldnt change the title of my other novel as i have grown used to it. As for any more recent projects... i'd be more than willing to take any suggestions for titles lol :p. I have real problems trying to decide on titles for things now. For the thing i am working on especially... oh well. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    After I get an idea for a story, I choose a name related to the main idea/theme or just something that goes along with the story (with exceptions).

    A satisfying title rarely comes to me instantly so sometimes I have to actually start writing. While I write, new ideas unfold to me and more title possibilities come up.

    I'll change a title instantly if it satisfies me better.
     
  15. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I'm kind of the opposite here.
    I come up with titles before the ideas.
    For example I a title just hits me, Stories you only Tell your Mother.
    And I decide well this story is going to be the children being abused.
    For me the title usually comes before the idea.
     
  16. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You must be really good at writing about topics. I think of the title after the idea so my idea won't be limited to the title.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I came up with a title months ago that had no story to go with it. So I just set it aside. Earlier this month, I started defining a plot to write for NaNoWriMo. As the storyline began to take shape, I realized that the title I had come up with back then would nearly perfectly fit what I was building.
     
  18. Thagryn-Sylrand
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    Thagryn-Sylrand Senior Member

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    Sometimes what I do is think of a title and add a story to it. Sometimes they end up working out.
     
  19. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Titles are funny things, they can reflect your work or be something completely different. Each of my titles reflect something in the work. "The Betrayal" with its' plot of ultimate betrayal by the evil President Carver and his cadre of Captain Kate Almir has a fitting name. "Night Fire" the prequel/sequel I'm working on while editing/rewriting "The Betrayal" involves most of her life in Intelligence which is "night/black ops work." Thus, the name fits.

    The third book in the series "The Winds of War" is fitting because the story is advanced to where war between the evil of Earth and the Allies is about to break out. So, each title has some sort of significance about the book itself. Maybe i didn't read your psot well enough, but what is it about? If you want, you can drop me a PM and maybe i can help you with a title..
     
  20. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I've actually changed titles a few times...especially since the first two novels are halves of a large tome I was calling "Freedom's Fall." Now they're called "The Betrayal" and "Night Fire" and are separate entities...
     
  21. assassin
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    assassin Member

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    Many of my titles are based on a MC and what they're called.
    The Rogue King is about the king of the Rogues. Golden Dawn comes from a shortened form of someone's name. Witch of Morthin refers to the MC. Heraphat is the MC's name.
    They may not be wonderful, but I like'em :D

    Most of the time it's just as I'm needing to save it. I guess the name's kinda floating there beforehand but I don't really pay much attention until I need it.

    Depends. I quite like many of my titles, especially the older ones, so I would be reluctant to change them unless someone offers something a lot better.
     
  22. misaditas
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    misaditas Member

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    Oh, I've done that before. I have a notebook somewhere with cool book titles in it (well, I think they're cool - could be wrong though).

    A good way is by watching (or listening) to any sports commentary. Sooner or later one of the commentators will come out with something bizarre, like a twisted saying or really odd metaphor.

    :D
     
  23. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, titles are very important to the story/poem/whatever. I try to pick something that really sums up the story, but that also matches the/a feeling/theme that is present in the story. For poems, I can usually manage to use a line from the poem. (I don't do short stories, really.) For novels, it can be harder, because I want something that fits the story but also something that sounds good. By default, I think a line from the poem itself sounds good, or I wouldn't have kept it.

    For my current project (sci-fi), the title took awhile to come, but I think it fits. The story is about--basically--two countries involved in a space race, much like the US and Soviet Union were here on Earth. The protag's country loses, and is forced to suspend their program indefinitely(for several reasons). It's about losing an oppurtunity, and specifically, the oppurtunity to get into space. So, the current title is "Surrendering the Sky", because it's a literal description of the conflict, and also because it symbolizes so many other losses that occur in the story. I'm perfectly willing to draw on as many relevant connotations as possible; in fact, it's my goal.

    I try to use this method for titling all my projects, whether they be poems or novels or whatever. I don't want to be too obvious, but I want the title to represent the work.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I always have a title by the time I do my first save (i.e. within a page of starting). However, the title is always, always subject to change as the story grows.

    Having said that, it's pretty uncommon for me to actually change the title.
     

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