1. CallumJR

    CallumJR New Member

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    Naming your pieces of Writing

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by CallumJR, Jan 7, 2017.

    Okay,
    So basically I'm 10k words deep into a fiction novel (my first) and I have no idea what it is going to be called... At all.
    So basically my question is this - at what stage do you go about naming your short stories/novels/novellas? Do you start with a title in mind and go from there? Or are you more of a write the entire thing and then slap a name on that bad boy at the end? Or, more likely, are you somewhere in the middle?
    Just wanted to hear a few different approaches that people have taken.
    I don't even know how my book is going to end at the moment so you can guess what category I fall into ;)
    Thanks for taking the time to read,
    Callum
     
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  2. jjwiggin

    jjwiggin Member

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    Does it matter?
    When I write a song - I start with the tune and then the words - and from the words I get the title of the song. Sometimes I use the inspiration as Title, and so you won't find it anywhere in lyrics.

    For stories, I think it works better for a Fantasy story to have the Story itself in the title - like what is that story about? And use that for the title of the narrative. For Science Fiction, it depends, sometimes, if the story is character-driven, then use the character's name, if not, just follow the fantasy outline.

    In my WIP (I have 2) I used one of each: one that is character-driven, and another that stems from the main plot.

    What kind of story are you writing?
     
  3. Arcadeus

    Arcadeus Senior Member

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    I start with a placeholder name, so I can sort it in my computer/brain easier. Official names either come to me during, or take a lot of thinking about witty ideas after.
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I usually have a working title (same as @Arcadeus's placeholder name, probably), but then the actual title will often change before it gets published. Titles are essentially marketing tools, so I try to find one that will market effectively.
     
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  5. jjwiggin

    jjwiggin Member

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    Does it matter?

    WOW! Didn't think of the marketing aspect - but yeah, many books catch your eye because the title sounds interesting - but then you buy it and read it and it is absolute TRASH! (example: Twilight)
     
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  6. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    It's worth pointing out as well that publishers are reasonably common to change a title if you get to that point. After all, it's a marketing thing, and they have people whom they pay to do exactly that.

    Of course, a good title may well help your chances before that point, so it's not pointless to think about, but it's certainly not as important as writing a good story, or even a good query letter.
     
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  7. Zadocfish

    Zadocfish Member

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    For me, I try a lot to make a placeholder name in Latin. My first successfully completed project, though, I came up with the name almost as soon as I decided on what the story would be about, and I thought the name was so cool that it made me want to finish the story ("The Fish from the Mad Star").
     
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  8. ddavidv

    ddavidv Senior Member

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    My first novel I referred to while writing as "The Portal". Nearing completion I did a search for books with that title and found far too many. I pondered. I Googled. Eventually I changed it "Portal To Elysium". Elysium is either an odd word to people or to a few it carries an interesting significance and fits the book very well. I actually went back into the book itself and wrote in a short bit on Elysium that makes the connection.

    My second book got named partway through writing it. The title is again explained within the book.

    My third book was a sequel to book #2 and I struggled mightily with getting a title. While working on it I simply called it "Book Two" in the series. It has a separate title that does not tie it in with the first book in the series. I tried titles that would make a connection to the first book but didn't like any of them so went with something with the MC's name. Smart or dumb marketing? But I like the title I came up with.

    The current (and stalled) WIP is simply the name of the made up town where everything takes place. I had the title of that one before I wrote a single word. I suppose this all illustrates that there is no particular system that I employ. I admit to often being flummoxed by titles and spend a lot of time trying to come up with them in all but the last instance.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I have working titles. It appears that Coriolis Effect, Tulips & Butter, and Shuteye are all going to be combined into the same novel. Eventually. So it's a good thing I'm not attached to any of those titles.
     
  10. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Looks like everyone's hit all the good points. I'll say this though, there have been times where I've come up with a title, and based my writing off of that.
     
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  11. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I finished a first draft for my novel, but it still doesn't have a name, and I still haven't had any ideas for a name that I liked. So untitled it has remained.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Right after coming up with the two ideas that, melded together, became the central idea for the story. I do this while ideas for characters, events and anything else are all still nebulous and malleable.

    And sometimes the title comes first, suggesting the story itself.
     
  13. CallumJR

    CallumJR New Member

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    Firstly, a big thank you to everyone for all your replies! It's certainly reassuring to see such a range of methods to naming pieces. I think I'm going to just be leaving mine till later on, possibly even until the entire thing has been written, and then deciding on something that fits at that point.

    It's a young adult action/adventure fantasy, really standard to be perfectly honest, but I'm finding it enjoyable to write, and hopefully it will be the same to read (given time).
    My current placeholder is 'Like Father, Like Son' but I feel this is way too generic.
    I feel that my current placeholder will just get swamped by hundreds of similarly titled works. Chances are I'll be self-publishing, so optimizing the name is going to be a big priority for me.

    That sounds like a really interesting/fun idea, and a great way to maintain direction for the piece. I'd be interested in hearing how it worked out for you?
     
  14. MelanieJane

    MelanieJane New Member

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    I had a working title for my novel - A War of Conscience - and it has just kind of stuck because I haven't been able to think of anything else!
    I did play around for a while with making a list of relevant words to the theme of the story and putting them together in different combinations - might be a method for you to try?
     
  15. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    I'm onto my fourth title for my main wop. It may not be the last, but I like it. If you need a placeholder just use the main theme.
     
  16. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I have always started writing based off of notes in my beloved big brown binder. That is where the theme comes from, the subject, characters, references and title and everything else. After I finish my piece, I use a title that is significant in the story. For example; an emphasized line or phrase, a theme or simply someone's name given by another character like 'Enigma Machine'.

    I personally blame prog for inspiring the titles lately.
     
  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    The first titles I came up with were for my intended Doctor Who fan-saga (of which I only got the first one down) were supposed to be named after the Zodiac as a reference to the time travel and aliens:
    the completed story is called Gemini because the two macguffin-turned-protagonist characters are a brother-sister pair of identical twins, and the sequels were supposed to be Libra (takes place in The Library), Scorpio (turning over a rock exposes a predator), and Cancer (the consequences of their action in Scorpio) have spread across the universe.

    My first short story title was supposed to sound like it could've been a line of dialogue by the protagonist (Anything for You), my short story titles after that have been plays on words on famous phrases (Picture Imperfect, Erosion of Memory, Ghouls are Made to be Broken), La Petite Mort is about a guy bringing a hot date home for a one-night stand, but she turns out to be a serial killer, and my novella where a high school cheer captain goes to sociopathic extremes to control her teammates' lives is called Pyramid Scheme.

    ... But I have no idea what I'm going to call the two novels I'm working on.
    The villain-protagonist work that I'm 40,000 words into was originally working-titled The Swallowing Abyss, and the only person I've told that title to before liked it even less than I did, but the basic idea was that my protagonists are going to ruin their lives by using magic to jump further into the moral darkness instead of trying to turn their lives around now that they've seen how much more dangerous the world can be.

    The next title I came up with was Nemesis because that's what my antagonist called herself as a vigilante serial killer in the 70s, but that doesn't make sense because that part of her unlife is over: she's hiding in the mortal world and has decided she's bored with the vigilante angle.

    I might try Nemesis for the Hero Protagonist novel I have a few notes outlined for - in my timeline, the name Nemesis has been used by numerous vigilante serial killers in the supernatural world inspired by the original, and a terrorist who came up with the name independently in the mortal world has drawn the attention of the supernatural cult - but right now it's sounding more like a cute idea than a serious one.
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    I was plodding along around 50-60k into the story and it just kinda hit me, and so I went with it.

    For shorts, it usually doesn't get a name/title until it is done and edited. :p

    So just work on your story for now, and it will come to you. :)
     
  19. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    Well I've already got a basis for my title, and I'll tell you how I got it. Most success in my fantasy novel comes from independence rather than group coordination or whatever. What I picture is something that goes along with that. Like "Painted River" to show that one person standing on ice is more safe than multiple people standing together on ice. Dunno if that helped much.
     
  20. InkDemon

    InkDemon New Member

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    I tend to get the title that pops into my head first - followed by the plot moments later. Of course these things don't always come through, but I find I start with a title, and build it off from there.
     

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