Creative Writing 101,  Fun,  Indie Author Life,  Writing World

Finding That (kind of) Perfect Title

So, NO REST FOR THE WICKED is not a unique title. It was just, “I like it. It’s a great fit. I’m going with it. I’m done.” Some other titles I considered are “Legion” – the working title and “Taker of Lives” – which I really liked for about two minutes.

I know. I’m a title genius. 😬

Sometimes coming up with the title is the hardest part of the writing process!! I have a story in the queue titled “Whisper.” My original working title was “The Shades of my Shadow.” That title was insulted. I didn’t think it was all that bad, and it was just placeholder title, but I did come up with something else whilst brainstorming one day.

The recently buried “Discord” went through a few titles. In Pitch Wars 2014, both of the mentors who gave me feedback were like, “This clashes with the beautiful writing.” Firstly, thanks for saying my writing is beautiful. Secondly, that’s the whole point. “Discord” is about a siren. She has problems. Get it? I thought it was brilliant. (I also had an agent fuss about my title, but by then I was just like, “ENOUGH ALREADY! GAHHH!”) The working title for this story was “The Fury.” Because, well, there’s a fury in the story. If you don’t know what a fury is, they’re like Greek demi-goddesses of revenge. Very cool entities. Totally under-utilized in the story. But that’s a post for another time.

When it came time to edit “The Fury,” I changed the title to “Lullaby” because, siren. I didn’t love it, and my brain wouldn’t work, obviously. So, I finally do a book search for the title, and not only do I find another book with that title, it was a book about a siren!! Totally different from my book, and it was book two in a quadrilogy, but OMG, no. Thus, I searched for something that was similar that would also better sum up the theme of the story. I still think “Discord” is brilliant.

The working title for “The Puppet Box” was “Hall of Mirrors.” Don’t ask. I didn’t have all the pieces together back then, and the hall of mirrors had and still has nothing to do with the plot. In the story, “Sorority & Fraternity Row” are hosting a charity carnival. It’s food and rides and shops. No hall of mirrors. But gotta call the story something, right? Then I flirted with calling it “The Puppet Master,” because there is a weirdo who calls himself that in the story. He’s cute, but he’s irritating. So, I Google that and a series of cheesy horror movies from the 80s pop up. Perfect. Mention that in the story. So, finally, I look at the story and think, “what is this thing about?” It’s about the puppet theater. So I’m calling it “The Puppet Box.” And the simplest title is one of the best titles in my portfolio. Haha.

To drum up titles, I ask myself what the story is about – I think about themes, location, time of year, plot – and literally jot down a bunch of crap until I see a word I like. Like when I was brainstorming NO REST FOR THE WICKED, I wrote down “wicked” and “restless” and decided those MUST be in the title. The character has sleep issues. She’s not the best person in the world. Get it? See why it’s perfect. ^_^

I have a story in the queue titled “Blackbird Manor.” The original title was “Blood Manor.” That kind of wigged me out, actually. Fitting but shiver. There’s a guy in the story who is called Sir Blackbird. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But it works. Another story in the queue is “Once There Was Chaos.” I was just playing around, but I loved it, so now it’s a title. Titles can sometimes happen by accident.

The working title for “Winter’s Siren” was “Songbird.” I know, right? Again, placeholder title. I can’t call stuff, “untitled #15” because then I’d never find it. I retitled a story once, forgot I had retitled it, and honestly thought I had deleted the story for months. So even after I pick the title, I’ll call the document “Songbird (Winter’s Siren)” until I’m in the editing phase. This way I can keep track of it. I thought about calling “Winter’s Siren” “Stolen Songbird,” but that is literally the title of a book On my TBR. I think it’s about trolls. I was also thinking about calling it “Frozen Songbird,” but that is kind of not great, so I’m using that for the opera being performed in the story. It was close to what I wanted though, so I decided to drum up something similar to that but stronger for the actual title. “Winter’s Siren.” I know, right. 😛

There’s no pressure to come up with an actual title until I’m done editing, but I often find something early. ^_^

In random news, I was on local radio over the weekend. I’m not great at thinking on my feet, but I actually really enjoyed it, and I think it went okay. It’s not a bookish show – it’s an inspirational kind of show. I didn’t contact them to get on. I work Mom & Pop retail. You get to know regulars sometimes. One such regular was like, “Oh, you should come on our radio show. We want to have some authors on this month – can you do this Sunday?” This happened last Tuesday night. And I was like, “…I guess…” I spent the weekend doing laundry and watching “The Hobbit” movies – just FYI, so I had time. Haha. Technically, Tuesday to Sunday is not considered a violation to my extreme lack of spontaneity, but since it put me way out of my comfort zone, it was borderline. But why not do it, right? Maybe someone picked up a notebook afterwards. ^_^

YouTube Video of the Week 😛


  • Sunflower Michelle

    Wow, congrats on the local radio! How did it feel?

    So, I’ve never been very good with titles, so I’m always surprised when something I write has a title! “When Mary Left” came to me super late–like, I was ordering the pre-made cover and I was like, “I need a title now!”

  • Jodi

    Titles remind me of falling in love. There are those titles that you settle for because they do what they’re supposed to do and for all intents and purposes should make for a good, sensible ‘marriage’, even if they don’t quite excite you; then there are those titles that immediately make your heart beat faster and your brain go “YES!” when you think of them for the first time. It’s love at first sight–everything about that title feels absolutely perfect. Unfortunately Chasing Echoes falls into the first category for me. I settled for that one, and to this day it still bothers me. Black Lilies, on the other hand, was love at first sight.

    Awesome about the radio gig!

    • Krystal Jane

      I LOVE Black Lilies! I also like Chasing Echoes. It’s a little haunting and poetic. And fitting. But I know what you mean. Sometimes, you just have to settle on a title and stop driving yourself crazy.

      • Jodi (@perkjo)

        I totally agree. I spent a better part of a year trying to come up with a name for Chasing Echoes. At some point you have to say “Enough is enough,” and quit holding the publication of your book hostage over it.

        I do think you’re a title-whisperer though. It’s your magical power. I need to start forking my WIPs over to you and say “Here, name this.” Like DISCORD. That one is insanely catchy and perfect. So is NO REST FOR THE WICKED.

  • Tonja Drecker

    Wow! That’s so exciting about being on the radio. After seeing your Youtube videos, I’m sure you did great.
    I love all the titles changes you went through…and all of them sound good 🙂 Often times, I have a title before I have a story, which is really hard since I then need to come up with an entire plot to fit it. Other times, titles just don’t want to come. Like A Glowworm. Lame but it’s what I got. Can’t wait to see what other titles are hiding in your box.

    • Krystal Jane

      A Glowworm makes me smile. ^_^ Who doesn’t like glowworms? There have been a couple of times where I had a title before I had a plot. I’m 50/50 for that working out right now. LOL! But I think once I have a working concept, it’s okay to go crazy with the titles. 😀 It can be fun, but yeah, sometimes, it’s like nothing’s there!

  • sandiedocker

    Congrats on your radio stint!
    Titles can be so hard. Sometimes you hit on one that is perfect. Others are a real struggle. And, at the end of the day if you go traditional, the publisher will probably change it anyway!!!!
    FWIW, I always love your titles.

    • Krystal Jane

      Thank you! ^_^ I used to get quite stressed at the thought of a publisher forcing a title I didn’t like on my work. LOL! I’m quite fond of some of my titles. 🙂

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