It’s been a lot of fun to read how titles fit into everyone’s writing process. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it’s a great feeling to have picked out the right title for your story. Here are a few of my favorites, from my own stories:
1. Out of Shape, because it fits perfectly with the plot on two levels, one of which you can see right away in the first paragraph:
Thaddeus Pudgekin, middle-aged accountant, paunchy and balding, ran for his life through the gloom of Blackburn. Sweat plastered his thinning hair to his scalp and stained the underarms of his silk suit coat. Acrid air scoured lungs, blood bludgeoned heart and brain, skin strained against shirt. He cursed his flabby body and all the food it had ever consumed; the buckets of deep-fried eels, trays of trembling soufflés and luscious bonbons, even the two biscuits with his mid-afternoon tea.
2. Singing for the Enemy, because it contains one of the twists of the story. There’s a lot of things you can imagine doing for an enemy (all unpleasant), but singing isn’t one of them. It took me a while to come up with this one–Poisoned Lullaby was stuck in my head for the longest time–but I love it.
3. Here Comes the Bride. I took a well-known phrase and used it as a title for a story that twists the concept of bride walking down the aisle in a couple of different ways.
4. Beauty, Unraveling. One of my recent stories, a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t want to name the story just plain Beauty, because that’s overdone (and Robin McKinley wrote a novel-length retelling with that same title ). Then I noticed how much I used the words and imagery of coming apart, and this title was born. It’s literary-ish, which is a fun mask to don once in a while.
Have you come up with the perfect title? The one that completes the story, that zinged your nerves when it first popped up? Please do share.
Megs - Scattered Bits says
The two that come to mind right away that arrived with the story, perfect, resonating, impossible to tear away were:
Rain – a currently abandoned novel about a girl who could use any special gift of anyone she had ever encountered. She was known as Universe, but the one who loved her called her Rain. It fit with the story on so many levels, I could not get that title off to save my life.
City of Glass – my first return to flash fiction posted on my website. It just…fit. I love it. I didn’t even care when a week later I found out about a novel with the same title. That name fits.
I have an obsession with names and a good title is like my story’s name. I think of Larry Brooks’ post on story as a character/person. And these titles are like names. Maybe I could find another that fits so well, but for the universe they are in and the circumstances unfolded, there is no other name for me. :sighs: :backing away from the titles and going to do something useful:
Jo Anderton says
I love the title of ‘Beauty, Unraveling’. It suits the tone of that story so well.
Hmm, thinking about my own titles. I like ‘Debris’ – I think it’s the perfect title for that book. It’s, you know, not only an important part of the plot, but I think it describes the state of Tanyana’s life pretty well! 🙂
Short story wise? I never particularly liked the title ‘Shadow of Drought’ but I know others do. Interesting 🙂 I like ‘Trail of Dead’ because it’s from the name of the band that inspired the story in the first place ‘And you shall know us by our trail of dead’.
I have lots of respect for writers who seem to be able to pick just the right titles for their work. Sigh, wish it was that easy for me!
I love the title City of Glass. It evokes all these images of wonder, fragility, sparkle.
I angsted so much over a title for Beauty, Unraveling that it was relief to have found the right one. It’s on submission so cross your fingers for me!
Now that you mention the state of Tan’s life, yes! Debris fits perfectly. Isn’t it nice when titles work on different levels? 😀
I remember brainstorming with you over Shadow of Drought. It seems so long ago now.