Writing World

Alms for the Title-less

aka #writerwoes – Am I right?

Some people can come up with titles like it’s nothing. Me? Not so much. I walked around with a story for months in high school calling it “The Town of Ombre.” I’m not even joking. I picked “Sudden Fury” about two months after I finished the first edit. Yeah, I’m that horrible.

Before I came up with the title for Chains of Destiny, it was called, “Ispartia: Land of Magic.” Ugh. But I thought about themes. And how my main characters both felt trapped in their individual roles. Then in the last third of the story, one of them says, “We all have chains to carry.” And I’m like, “Ooh…” Not that it’s the best title in the world, but really, anything is better than what I had. I wish I had kept the list that had all the possible titles I considered on it. It’s hilarious, I’m sure. I thought seriously about calling it “The Immortal Princess.” Which I still like, by the way, but mostly as a nickname.

But I do that. I make a list of themes and then try to come up with titles based on that. I don’t know how much it really helps, but I did come up with some great titles for the unwritten books in the vampire series. Well…for two of the books. Out of four. o_O

In college, I had a short story entitled “The Third Eye.” No one got it. I thought it was genius. I still do. (haha!) In the story, a minor character chopped up two other characters. I know it sounds morbid, but trust me, it was hilarious. It was a dark comedy. I was thinking the tagline would be, “You can’t see her, but she’s there.” Like the third eye, you know? Did I lose you? Yeah, I lost the class. I had another short story that I changed the title on three times and never came up with anything decent. The first short story I turned in was called, “Then the Lightning Struck.” sticks head in sand

How do people come up with titles? Like why is The Da Vinci Code a good title? Why is The Hunger Games a good title?

Who knows? I have this book on my shelf: Kill Me Softly. THAT is a good title.

But most titles are really kind of generic when you think about it. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Night Circus. Time Weaver. Teardrop. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Da Vinci Code. Little Women. Anne of Green Gables. All they did was take a setting, a character, an object, an idea, and slap it on their manuscript.

City of Bones. I’m not sure how fitting it is, but it’s great title. Another Cassandra Clare title: Clockwork Prince. She’s a genie.

Other great titles: Some Quiet Place, Splintered, Of Poseidon, A Dangerous Fiction. Premeditated. Born of Illusion. Still, they are all generic once you strip them down.

Perhaps I’m trying too hard.

In my upcoming projects I have things like, “The Queen of Diamonds” – probably a keeper, “Never Say Never” – definitely a keeper if I ever get the kinks worked out, “The Shades of My Shadow” – actually makes a lot of sense, but I think I can do better, “The Power” – definitely needs a change, but I’ll worry about that when I get to it, “The Fury” – I actually really like that, and “Petra” – I’m starting to feel like I’m going to be stuck with that.

Hmm…#writerwoes – Lol!


  • Harliqueen

    I know how you feel. Titles can sometimes come to me really easily, but other times, I sturggle and end up just having to something, anything! 😀 Sounds like good ones for your upcoming projects though.

    • krystal jane

      I so get like that. I will literally take anything isn’t awful. I have to come up with something at least halfway decent when I’m naming my files in case I get attached to it. Lol! Take some of the stress off myself around querying time. 🙂

  • Laurie

    I can relate to these woes! Whenever I come up with something good, I discover it’s already taken by a moderately successful book I just hadn’t heard of. xD I tend to go for one-word titles, so the chance that it’s not going to be original/unique is pretty high! My current WIP has a working title. I’ll have to rethink it later when I know what’s actually going on!

    #writerwoes indeed! Good post!

    • krystal jane

      I google my titles sometimes to see if they’re being used by something else. One time there was a book, a video game series, AND a band who were all using that title!

      I like a good one word title. I have mouthfuls for titles sometimes. *headdesk*

  • darklingjinny

    I usually struggle with my titles, I know how you feel. One is too blah, the other is too much, it takes a while to find that just right one usually. I still question my most recent WIP title because it’s the name of the overall area where the characters and story take place, but apparently it’s catchy and a lot of people like it. The best advice I could give in regard to picking a title is pick the one you like while you’re writing it, then worry about the proper title when you’re editing. I asked other writers what they thought about mine and I still debate changing it to something else. Seems like a never-ending battle in the author’s mind.

    • krystal jane

      That is good advice. 🙂

      Firemists is a really good title though to outsiders. 🙂 There are a lot of good titles that are really basic underneath. I think Divergent is an awesome title, but it’s a just a word for a group of people in the book.

    • krystal jane

      The sad thing is…I go into every single story thinking that a title will just magically come to me…and it never ever does.

      I think the second book I finished was called “The Tiara” because it had a cursed tiara in it. o_O

  • Thea Landen (@TheaLanden)

    Ohhh, my titling woes are well-documented in my blog. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to stumble upon the perfect title right away and it lives happily in my head as I merrily type the words on the page.

    Other times, we have situations when I’m freaking the hell out because I’m ready to send a completed manuscript to my editor and THERE IS NO TITLE. (Wasn’t that a fun time? I thought so. Not.)

  • rhchatlien

    Sometimes I really love my titles. Once I thought of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, it just couldn’t be anything else. But I never thought of a title I much liked for the project before that, and I’m struggling with my WIP.

    • krystal jane

      I like that title, too. ^_^
      I often like my titles, but it rarely think they’re good. It’s hard to come up with titles for new projects. I try to cut myself some slack until I. About halfway through.

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