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  1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Titles - how and when?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Oct 4, 2020.

    Where do you all stand on titling new works? Is it your first job? Last? Maybe when inspiration strikes. What's your chosen method when that time comes? Does the title even matter? I still haven't the vaguest idea why Welsh's Trainspotting is so called, and I care less.

    I used to use 'Untitled #(?)' where question mark is the number of the project, but looking back through my abandoned novel attempts I now realise it tells me nothing about the contents. So I then started using temporary descriptive titles such as 'Stolen Money Road Trip'.

    But yesterday I was determined to come up with a killer title before I started, and spent wasted hours trying to come up with one... and still didn't settle on anything I liked.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2020
  2. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    I’m very bad at thinking up titles. I usually forget about them until I’m about to submit, and then I have to think one up in a hurry, and it’s usually not very good! Occasionally a title will come to me earlier and I think it’s pretty good, but that’s quite rare! I’d love some tips about how to get better at titles.
     
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  3. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I usually have a working title. Like, my current one is "Vicarious," but I know that won't be the final title. When I'm finished with it and want to give it to beta readers, I'll go look at all of the comp titles I can find, and then brainstorm a list of like 20 possible titles in the same style, pick one that feels good, then see what people think of it.
     
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  4. Thom

    Thom Active Member

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    I usually go with a working title. It'll evolve as I go along until it is as set as the story itself. But usually, even if it is not finalized, it is something evocative of the story.
     
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  5. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Varies wildly for me. Sometimes I have the perfect title right from the start. Sometimes I start with a working title until I think of a better one. Sometimes the title just keeps eluding me.
     
  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    If I start a new short and don't immediately know the title, I assign a working title. I spend no more than 5 minutes on finding a title, because when I then get to writing, often the title jumps out in the first few paragraphs. If it doesn't and I get to the end of writing with still no title in sight, it's usually a sign that the story has a problem.

    Though sometimes the title comes before the story. I remember once I read a particular phrase ('the perfect shot') and I was struck by the story it told me. So of course, the phrase became the title. It's not written yet, but it will be within the next few weeks ;)
     
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  7. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    Here ya go...
    https://blog.reedsy.com/book-title-generator/
     
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  8. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Cheers. I did try dozens of generators including that one, but they all suck.
     
  9. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    Come on, you're telling me The Stud Muffin and the Cupcake is a bad title?
     
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  10. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    :D For what it’s worth I’m looking for a single (maybe two) word title that epitomises Britain in the mid ‘80s, cryptically.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
  11. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    I brainstorm ideas on a piece of A4 paper and work from there. I jot down key words that link to the story, and something usually jumps out at me at that point.
     
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  12. ISalem

    ISalem Member

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    I usually write titles after I finish writing what I was writing. I think best ideas for titles come by the time We finish writing when we have more different angles to look at what we wrote. I usually don't pay much attention to the title. I just leave it out till the end when best describable title come up.
     
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  13. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    I generally use a working title. Sometimes it changes, but rarely when it is the second or later book in a series. Sometimes, while writing a tale, the right title will emerge. Sometimes a publisher will recommend a title because, after all, a title is important in marketing. A self-published author should remember that as well--what's on the cover when the work is released can impact potential reader interest.

    A good working title can help in a small way to maintain focus and not get lost on tangents in the storyline, even when outlining.
     
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  14. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    It really depends on the story for me - sometimes I know the title going in, other times I just give the Word doc a generic, easily identifiable name (hit man romance, Fool for You anthology short, etc.) and change the file name once I've decided on a title.

    The only one that I would have died on a hill for was my first book, really - I don't think I'm that great at titles to be honest. With my second book, I still wasn't happy with my title even after it was accepted and I about halfway into the publishing process, and I wound up crowdsourcing a new title here on the forums and used that.
     
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  15. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I often wonder if too much credit is given to those who say choosing a book title is a skilled job. I mean is it? Really? I think it’s easy to give a book a bad title, but how much would it harm book sales if an author was allowed to choose the title and just used a random word generator. All they need do then is claim the title is cryptic and let the readers debate it among themselves. As I said in my OP I’ve never known why Welsh called his novel Trainspotting. If I ever read the whole thing maybe I’ll know, but my point is I don’t care. It’s a good title because it’s juxtaposed by the cover and theme, but any contrasting title would have worked just as well.
     
  16. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Razzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Sometimes i have a title already in mind. Other times it comes to me while i'm working on something else.
    the WIP i'm working on now is a sequel to an Untitled WIP (currently out for beta readings). the WIP had a place holder name that was the title of the over all series. but then suddenly... BOOM.... had a title for it after like a zillion years of working on it. And because i figured a title for THAT one, the "Untitled" first book now has a title.
    I have no process or anything when coming up with a title. I just kind of make a list and hope I like one longer then a week (its happened before... i choose a title that i absolutely love, and then a week later, i hate it and want another one).


    At work, I'm organizing the mystery series and it completely floors me how these authors come up with these amazing and witty titles (especially the cozy mystery titles!). They are great! I shared a few punny ones with @Gladiolus83 :superlaugh:
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2020
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  17. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    I work with titles kind of how I work on the stories themselves. I usually start with working titles and keep them as a placeholder. Then as the work progresses, I like to change the title(s) to something more ambiguous and abstract, yet still linked to one or more themes in the story. But this part doesn't always reveal itself until the draft(s) is pretty well completed. This is for my fiction writing, however. When I'm writing for my baseball history blog, or an advertorial piece for a client, the title selection is totally different. So at least for me, it's dependent on the project.
     
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