In this blog post, I’m back to names… no, wait, don’t leave yet!
I’m obsessed with names. My previous post WHAT’S IN A NAME was about naming characters and the process I have. I cannot thank everyone enough who commented on that post. It was fun to see how people name their characters.
NOW, for the next set of naming fun… titles.
For me, this is just as bad as character names. I’m always presented with the same problems: Name it something odd and catchy? What if it’s a generic/cliché title? What if I give away the ending? What if… okay, I’ll stop there. You get my point.
Well, lucky for you (and me), I’m not alone in this post because I’ve recruited one of my dear writer friends, Maria Kelly to join the discussion. Now, why did I ask her to help me? Because she is amazing with titles. I can sit and ponder a title for hours and come up with nothing but Maria spouts them off with ease, and their amazing.
Now, right off the bat, Maria and I are a little different. When I talked to her about titles, she said: “Titles come to me all the time. I have a growing list of them that just need to be attached to a story.” Wow, talk about jealousy there, huh? I very VERY rarely ever have a title before the story. I write the story and then add the title. Is it a little backwards? Maybe. But that’s me (I guess). To me, the title is the last part of the story, bringing it all together. But then again, maybe that’s my problem, eh?
But when the titles do come to Maria and she does have a story, they work so well. Consider two of her recent (soon-to-be-in-print) published stories. World Wide Web is a deceiving title because it has nothing to do with the internet other than that’s where I read the story! It’s about a spider that feeds on people… oh yea, you read that one right. But look at the title for a second – it fits perfect. Now, for my favorite by Maria… the ABC’s of Apocalypse. Wow, tell me that title isn’t packing serious heat? Here is what Maria said about the title: “Awhile back I got to thinking, what if absinthe were legal again? Under what kind of circumstances would this toxic drink be reintroduced into society. I wrote a title down, “The Return of Absinthe,” which I thought was pretty lame. Later, the idea started revealing a story to me: an apocalyptic post-catastrophe in which a disease caused by a meteor strike is so severe that absinthe turns out to be a blessed relief from the pain. This story is centered around an alphabetical writing exercise by a brilliant young girl who is losing her intelligence to the disease. Since she is writing each paragraph with a new word from the alphabet from A-to-Z, I ended up renaming the piece, “The ABC’s of the Apocalypse.” A much cooler title.”
Now, for some of my most recent titles. A few weeks ago, my #fridayflash for example, Big Kahuna I had no title until the last sentence. Then it clicked. Now, personally, I hate the title. Makes me a little uncomfortable when I see it, but that is the title for the story. The week before that, I had a story called The Days After Time about a ghost in a cemetery. The story was beautiful but scary and heavily metaphoric, so I needed a title to do the same. I think this one worked well.
I also try to mix up titles a little bit. I like to deceive people… for example, look at Mary’s Garden . That sounds innocent enough right? Yea, sure. Read the story then come back. Oh, and finally, let’s not forget an upcoming story I have in an anthology titled Mighty Mites. It’s about giant, killer termites. It’s a blast, I promise. This was a rarity for me because when I saw the anthology – it was about creepy things like bugs – the first thought that came to me was about termites. Then the title came before I typed one word. But those times are few and far between.
Finally, look at last week’s #fridayflash – Lobster… with a Side of Crab Cakes . Wow, what a title. I had a suggestion or two about the title and again, personally, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m more of a simple title with meaning. But I do like to step out of my comfort zone once a while and try something else.
So, I’m done rambling here… I’m going to leave the comments section open you all. You tell me, how do you title your stories? Before writing? After writing? During writing? Do you like simple titles? Or really long ones?
Before I click publish, I want to thank Maria Kelly for giving her insight on how she comes up with titles. For those who haven’t read any of Maria’s work, check out her site: http://identifiedflyinglenticulars.blogspot.com/ AND follow her on Twitter: @mkelly317