1. martial_wolf
    Offline

    martial_wolf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, Wa

    Working title or no working title?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by martial_wolf, Apr 20, 2011.

    A creative writing teacher I had once told his class to never name their stories before they were finished. Avoid the title, and finish it later.

    Personally my working titles were something that I had to try hard to get rid of but in the end his advice worked splendidly for me. Not once have I completed something I titled before the end.

    In fact, I once titled something I hadn't even started. I haven't put down one word that I intend to keep.

    How about all of you? Do you adhere to the working title or have you cast it into the wind?
     
  2. JeffS65
    Offline

    JeffS65 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    I have to name something before I start. A good name is very evocative for me. It gives me the direction of where I am going with a story. To be clear, I have a story idea and the title comes along with it. Not just a name with nothing else. I find that I am thinking through an idea and a name just comes out of it at the outset. From that, I go forward.
     
  3. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    It depends on the story. Whatever comes to me. Some get named early, some don't get named until they're done. I have two novels in progress right now and one has a name and one doesn't. They're both coming along at about the same pace I'd say, I try to split time equally, so I don't think title (or lack of it) is having any effect.
     
  4. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I definitely agree with the point that you shouldn't name your work officially until it's done. Two reasons: 1) the story might take an unexpected direction in which your title doesn't relate anymore, and 2) no matter how much you've planned, only by writing will you discover the perfect phrase/bit of symbolism/dialogue that will work as a title.

    However, I do agree with using a working title (with the mindset that you can change it later). For me, it's easier to keep writing something with an individual title than something like "dystopia novel #3"
     
  5. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    To me, titles are like all things involved in crafting fiction, and probably going to change and be revised at some point anyway. And I'm not going to work on a story called "Untitled" so I usually find a working title from a They Might Be Giants song that may or may not remain as my final title.
     
  6. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Ooh, I like that, may I borrow it?

    It's almost as good as my short story titled "Cuz I'm a Writer!!! (chapter 1)" And yeah, it was a short story, the joke being most writers I know are working on novels, and haven't gotten past chapter one, so I figured I'd just stop there an make it a short story!
     
  7. Jonp
    Offline

    Jonp Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    When I started writing my book, I saved the file as Booky. That stuck around for a bit until I changed it to something relevant. Whether or not the new title will stay, and if it will be the book title or the series title, I have yet to decide.
     
  8. erik martin
    Offline

    erik martin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I use working titles, but they are just that, something to call it until I decide what I'm going to call it. I've had works called 'Swamp Monster Story' and 'Cop Story.' The names changed once the story was done. I've had other instances where I have a title before I start writing and it sticks.
     
  9. Dermit
    Offline

    Dermit Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Iowa
    My first novel was saved as Wordvomit.doc up until the 2nd draft--does that count as a working title?
     
  10. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    After my experience with my first title yes I have a working title and I change it as necessary - the title comes when it comes. With my first book it has taken a lot of help and several month to come up with a title that I am happy with. Having a title has never stopped me writing it can always be changed if the story chanes.
     
  11. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    I often base a story on the title. In other words, I come up with the title before I even have the idea for the story.

    Then, sometimes, the story takes an unexpected direction, and I need to change the title.
     
  12. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    My working title is often merely "Story 15", or something strongly equivalent to that.

    Sometimes, I already have an idea when I start. Most times, I don't.
     
  13. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    I usually use a terrible working title.. Just 2 stories where I've liked the title enough to keep it from the start. However, one of those was the story I based largely on dreams and spent the whole time building up to the one particular image I had from the dream where I got the title from, and since I was writing towards it the novel never changed direction. The other one, was a short story and so I came up with a title for that when I finished it, but then expanded it into a novel, sticking to the theme set in the short story. Since the title was thematic rather than plot-related, I could keep the awesome title fairly confident I wasn't going to deviate too far from it. Although I did change one of the words in it from a brand name to a generic word.

    Oh, and the novel I just finished, it was the 5th or 6th draft and I finally said, "I can't keep using the working title!" and came up with a new one and wrote the whole thing knowing the title I'd chosen, although for the most part every time a word of it came out of my mouth I called it by the working title. :p
     
  14. Eunoia
    Offline

    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    England
    I'm terrible coming up with titles that fit or aren't lame. I usually just write, and don't worry about a title until I absolutely need one.
     
  15. Yoshiko
    Offline

    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    27
    I always use a working title because it helps me to distinguish between stories and it makes them easier to talk about with other people. It also makes the project as a whole feel that little bit more official and organised.

    A short story I recently had published had the working title Eternal which was later changed to Persimmon Daydream following the completion of the first draft. My WIP was simply titled Lamb but became Black Lamb at over 100,000 words in once I realised that not only had the symbolism of the lamb become a recurring theme, but religious symbolism had too. One novel was simply known as TheStoryWithNoName until it became Summer's Gone 30,000 words in. :rolleyes:
     
  16. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    My writing teacher from back in the day also said he didn't like giving a story a title until he was done, yet he couldn't really work without a title either. So he began everything he wrote, no matter what it was about, "A story about a father and son". Never has he written a story where he kept that title either.

    Personally I usually name my stories pretty early on, and rarely see the need to change the title. It has happened, but more often than not, I base the entire story around the title. It's what keeps it all together and in check.
     
  17. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I find that having a working title eliminates my preoccupation with finding one. If I don't have any working title, I find that, as I write, I'm constantly pressing to include something in the work that will make a good title. Of course, that never works, as whatever I write as such seems forced.
     
  18. TheSpiderJoe
    Offline

    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Arizona
    A title for me has to have a significant impact. It's the first thing they see about your book and one of the main aspects they remember about it. A good title has one of the most important jobs, drawing readers to take a further peek at your work.

    As far as working titles are concerned, I don't mind them as long as it can give you some motivation to keep writing. The only issue I have with them is when writers try to modify a story around what they feel is a decent working title and sacrifice potentially good plot/character elements to do so.

    Sadly, one of the novels I'm currently plotting has a pretty crappy working title and I've been killing myself to come up with something as unique and interesting as the other ones on my list.
     
  19. VM80
    Offline

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK
    For me the title usually comes to me in the middle, or sometimes near the end of what I'm writing.
     
  20. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Every title is a working title until you submit the manuscript. You can always change it any time until then, and you should always leave yourself open to doing so.

    I usually have a pretty good idea what my title will be when I start writing, but I know that isn't true of everyone. Even so, I have changed titles on several occasions late in the process.
     
  21. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I've changed a title after I finished an entire draft once. But I usually don't change it once I settle on it.
     
  22. martial_wolf
    Offline

    martial_wolf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, Wa
    Interesting to see that most people use some form of titling. It's nice to see a differing methodology :D
     

Share This Page