What’s In A Name?

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My first novel runs to 86,500 words, give or take a few. That’s 86,500 words that I wrote myself, all out of my own head. And that’s quite a lot of words.

So why am I finding it so hard to come up with a couple more for a title??

For a long while in its youth, the novel was called Dark Energies. I still think that’s a strong title, but fear it sounds a bit too sci-fi. I don’t want to end up on the wrong shelf, do I? Incidentally, that’s a whole other debate – the book is fiction and deals with themes of quantum physics, so in a very literal sense it is a bit sci-fi. But it’s mostly a contemporary urban love story with a twist and a mighty helping of mystery thrown in.

For a shorter period – one week to be precise – it became Jumping From Cliffs. That works for a blog, but doesn’t work for a book. I kept asking myself “would I want to read a book called Jumping From Cliffs?”

The answer was “only if I were considering suicide but couldn’t work out how to do it.”

For ten minutes I dallied with Faรงades but had an overwhelming urge to punch myself in the face at the pretentiousness of it. Plus, it’s rather Jilly Cooper-esque. And that’s never a good thing.

So here I am, metaphorically sitting on 86,500 words of manuscript, without a name to its name.

Surely a few words can’t be that difficult?

At this rate it’s going to be called A Story About Some People Who Do Things.

So tell me friends, how do you come up with your titles?

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7 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. A Story About Some People Who Do Things is actually something that would catch my attention. I love ambiguous titles like that!
    As for my own titles… sometimes the concept of the story works well for a novel title (such as “Puppet Parade” and “The Muse Bunny”), and other times I ask around for help. The forums of NaNoWriMo are especially helpful when it comes to that, if you want to give it a shot. =]

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  2. So tell me friends, how do you come up with your titles?

    I try to write my titles as kind of a mini-blurb for the story itself. So what you see is what you’ll get/read.

    So say I wrote a story about a detective who also moonlights with a cupcake business; the title would be something like ‘Of Murders and Cupcakes’. Or something like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I wrote about this awhile back, ironically titled the same as your post. It’s here, if you’re interested:

    http://kisawhipkey.com/2012/06/29/whats-in-a-name/

    But since it’s kind of long, I’ll paraphrase for you. Basically, my titling process looks something like this,

    1) Boil the whole thing down into a single sentence that sums up the goal of the piece (a practice I learned from studying Disney’s animation technique. Strange, I know, but it’s surprisingly effective.)

    2) Take that sentence and see if I can further chop it down to only a few words that still conveys the general feel of the larger work. I try for something that contains mystery, so vague titles work for me. And if it can be multi-layered with meanings, even better!

    3) Make sure that it’s inextricably linked to the work somehow, be it the name of a character, race, world, etc, it should something whose meaning will be truly illuminated only after someone’s read the whole story.

    And that’s pretty much the gist of it. I go into more detail about each of my published works and how I chose the titles in the post. But the important thing is to find something that “feels” right, and only you will know when that clicks into place. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Excellent advice, as always – thanks. I’ll definitely give that a go; the kind of title you described (vague, linked to the story, intriguing) is exactly what I’m looking for. And hey, if it’s good enough for Disney… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. My working title rarely ends up being my submitting title. ๐Ÿ™‚ Usually inspiration strikes, but if it doesn’t, I talk to friends and pick their brains. I usually brainstorm on a piece of paper too. How about Dark Matter (got a science sound but also could be something else)?

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