After all these years I can easily recognize when I'm *on to* something. It has always been true that when I can't think of a working title for something I'm writing, it ends up being something that I feel is good enough to shop around. Of the small number of things I've ever been fortunate enough to see published it has ever been the case; I can't think of a title to save my soul.
The plain truth is that I absolutely suck at titles.
The opposite case is also true. When I have a title either from the start or at some point during the working of it, the piece is invariably abandoned and tossed aside. Most times forever.
Such is the case now with the novel I've been working on for the past year, shards of which are visible in my profile (though, some warning; 1- None of the three short pieces I've put up at Fictionaut look anything like their current iteration. And 2- The titles given here were added for form's sake only and were never intended to be a working title at all). I can't think of what to call it. And I have not even a shadow of a hint of a notion.
I have even told editors of magazines that have accepted work in the past, as well as agents who have agreed to read things, "you go ahead and think up a title. Because I certainly can't."
So I'm trying to ferret out some responses from anyone who would like to pipe in here.
Does anyone else in the world have this same problem?
If so, how do you solve it?
Conversely, if you have an easy time with titles what's your process?
I suppose I should be happy to know that I can't come up with one for this project as - if the past is any indication - it hopefully means there'll be something to it. But I'm not that superstitious, nor am I that naive.
i've struggles with titles. the wife says they matter and need to be carefully chosen, so i try to find a fragment from the piece itself to use, sort of a refrain, maybe. i'm having a terrible time titling my m/s. i've been using "licking the windowpane" after the piece that you published in thrice, but i'm not sure. always a struggle. phone a friend, perhaps?
I think "receiving" titles for poems comes quicker/truer/easier than for fiction pieces simply because of the nature of the engagement.
I don't concern myself with titles. After I've been working for a while on a story or novel, or poem, the title becomes obvious. If you struggle over it, then your mind becomes tangled around titles as a 'problem' so I say just let it go and see what presents from your unconscious mind. The unconscious is always smarter than we are anyway...
I agree with Claffey's wife in that titles are important and have to be carefully chosen, however, don't overthink it (this from the Queen of the Kingdom of Overthinking).
I'll often change the title of a story a dozen times or more while it's being written and don't think of this as a 'problem' so much as part of the evolution of the project. As the story develops, it changes, often in unexpected ways. So does the title. I'm a believer that title comes last. I don't think I've ever settled on a definite title until all revisions have been done. Yeah, sometimes the original title sticks it out, but more often than not, it doesn't. I can't really get a feel for what the story is REALLY about until it's done.
Fresh eyes are also a great thing. I've got a friend who struggles with titles and often a perfect title will jump out from the text when I read her work. Likewise, I've had friends (whose opinions I respect) tell me when they feel a title is wrong. And I listen to them.
Thanks Sally. Maybe I'll have you do the title when I'm finished, if ever that ever actually happens...
Titles come easy to me. Usually they pop into my head and that's it. I know it is perfect for what I want.
my wife titles most of my stories, thank god. when she doesn't i'm usually sorry later.
In the writing beginning, I participated in a wonderful online writing class, wherein Dr. Carlos would have us concentrate on: 1. Where does my story really begin? (usually, about paragraph three), 2. Where does my story really end? (usually, the last paragraph is "tacked on").
Dr. Carlos taught, as Sally suggests, write the story then simply ask what's my story really about? In Micro & Flash fiction the title takes on a new role as it becomes part of the story. Many writers are satisfied with a one word label.
If it doesn't come to me early then usually it's a struggle to come up with one at all. Then, once I have it, deciding to change it is like changing the name of your children.
I have a list of titles that don't have stories attached to them. Every so often I borrow from that list even if the fit isn't perfect.
The title of this thread is...
interesting. Did you have any help with it?