Titles Are Overrated

I suck at titles.

I’m working on rewrites of a novel that, at this moment, is called Loki’s Game.  I’m not really happy with that, but its the best I could come up with at the time.  Before I finish the new draft, that will likely change.

Even working titles tend to escape me.  Most of those become titles of songs – because music is where the majority of my inspiration comes from – and will ultimately have to change because I really don’t want to infringe on anyone else’s copyright.

The stories I do have titles for are the ones that aren’t finished.  They’re the ones that may never see the light of day because they’re in such horrible condition.  They’re the ones that have the contrived plots and the absolute lack of description.  They’re my practice runs.

I recently finished a story called She-Wolf.  It’s about – you guessed it – a female werewolf.  It’s another short thing, but it’s a pretty good one.  The title was actually the first thing I came up with for it, and it started after a panel at MystiCon in Roanoke, VA.  One of the girls on the Urban Fantasy panel made a comment about the monster never being female.

So I fixed that.

Of course, once I had the title, the Shakira song of the same name sort of became its theme song.  That was one of the easy ones.

I have a novel that I’ve been writing for ten years.  I’ve written, re-written, revised, edited, deleted, and started over.  It has had nine different titles, and I haven’t liked a single one of them.  Right now, the story’s folder is listed as “Untitled Fantasy” because I just don’t know what to call it.

I have another fantasy series that’s in the same shape.  The series itself is titled “Call to Arms” but the stories themselves… nope.  Nothing.  Absolutely no idea.  And even my husband-muse can’t help me figure out these problems.

Most often, I hear things like “finish the story and the title will come to you”… and let me just tell you right now that THAT DOESN’T WORK.  I finish the story, and all of the ideas I had for titles no longer apply.  I get confused and frustrated and because I can’t think of something to call it, I threaten to throw the whole damn thing away.

I should just adopt Bentley Little’s titling philosophy… “The ______”

Life would be much easier.

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4 responses to “Titles Are Overrated

  1. blackwatertown

    Yes titles can be difficult.
    You could use temporary titles which are just the name of the main character or hero – so “Mary”.
    It has worked for Dave – the UK TV channel – it features lots of shows about cars and silliness, so they reckoned it would appeal to blokes called Dave – so they called it that. Clever branding that has worked.
    The other problem with titles is that once you’ve settled on a name, you might just see that someone else has put out a book before you with the same or a similar title. Grr.

    • You are so right!

      I do tend to use character names as working titles..but I also have a bad habit of changing my characters’ names on longer things.

      I never would have thought such a simple name could work so well. I guess that just shows how uncreative I truly am. 🙂

      I have a friend right now that’s having the last problem you mentioned – she wrote a book (a fantastic one, at that), submitted it to her agent, and found out that someone has recently published a YA book with the same title. As hers is of the romance genre, it wouldn’t do at all for people to get those two things mixed up.

  2. I’m the same way with titles. It took me forever to come up with White Spirit. And my YA novel? Still has the working title of Mayberry with Monsters. None of my other WIPs have titles either. Maybe we should get together and brainstorm…

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