Titles

I find it difficult to come up with titles for things, whether they be blog posts, poems, short stories, novels, or even just file names on the computer.

Most of the novels I write end up with one-word titles. One-word titles don’t really say a lot, but they’re short, sweet, and to the point.

There are a lot of titles that follow the formula The ___ and the ____, or Character’s Name and the ____, or ____ of the ____, or just The _____. Not that there’s anything wrong with those titles at all. They do sort of have a ring to them, I suppose.

Back when I used to write poems a lot, I used to name them the most obscure titles that had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the poem. That was also when I was back in my emo phase and used to really listen to the Smashing Pumpkins, whose songs often had titles that had apparently nothing to do with the song.

Then I went through another phase where I named all my poems really long titles that were practically longer than the poem itself. I think that was back when I listened to A Day to Remember or Fall Out Boy a lot. They have a lot of super long song titles.

What a title is supposed to do is succinctly sum up the work, which is obviously more difficult to do when you have a long work or a short title. A title, like a cover image, is supposed to give a glimpse of what the book is about. From what I hear, if you’re traditionally published, you typically have very little say in the final title of your book, but if you’re self-published you’ll have all the control and I suppose you could make your title a really obscure one that has nothing to do with the contents of the book. But that might not be wise from a marketing perspective.

How do you title your writing?

14 thoughts on “Titles

  1. I face the challenge of coming up with clever post names a lot these days. And it is ironical because I’m really good at naming people (usually my friends who enjoy that tag). I used to have a lot of trouble finding new passwords as well but then i came with a policy to use a word that I had heard recently.
    Some of my passwords were as stupid as Password—— or Hello——.
    I have named my ‘novel’ or whatever I am going to type in NaNoWriMo with a line from a song I was listening to during registration. It sucks!

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  2. Believe it or not..I usually get hit with a thought of a good title and that inspires me to write about the subject. But, then, I’ve always been arse-backwards. 🙂

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    • That happens to me sometimes, too. But midway through writing, I end up changing the title because the original one I came up with doesn’t fit anymore.

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  3. I absolutely love writing titles. I’m not sure I can describe “how”, but here are just three of my favorites (I’m just dying to share) –

    “Don’t Scratch Your But (4 grammar rules made to be broken – sometimes)”
    “Give Your Life or Choose to Die: Eponine and Javier in Les Miserables”
    “The Russians Are Spying On Me (And I’m Loving It)”

    Tell you what, I’ll write your titles and you can, I don’t know, iron my handkerchiefs. Deal?

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  4. The odd thing about serial writing is that you have to title a piece before you write it, rather than afterwards. That makes it more challenging, in a way, but really it makes it easier, since there’s no way you can sum up a work that hasn’t been written yet. So, you just come up with the best title you can. When I wrote A Sane Woman I thought the title might end up referring to a specific character, but it didn’t. I think it works that way, too, or at least a lot of people have commented (favorably) on the title.

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  5. Sometimes I have a tough time with titles. But I had a novel a few years ago that had a title right away – it was perfect. And just as I started querying agents, I heard the announcement that someone else had a futuristic YA novel with the SAME title. Sadtimes. I still can’t bring myself to read her book, which is totally ridiculous (haha, I mean my resistance to reading her book is ridiculous, not that her book is ridiculous. But it could be, I suppose…).

    When I’m having a really tough time coming up with a title, I do one of those mind map things, using themes & imagery from the story. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes I just steal a title from a song. One of my WIPs is called What the Water Gave Me, after a Florence + the Machine song. I doubt the title will stick, but I feel better for having one.

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    • A mindmap seems like a good idea, especially after the story is written. That way you can get a good inventory of themes to use for something other than coming up with a title.

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  6. I leave the title for last and then when I it comes to deciding the title I get stuck. I really have no answers for this. Maybe I should try to come up with the title first?

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