Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Blog #195

"Blog  #195". A catchy title, that. I have a love/hate relationship with titles. Well, it's more a sort of I can Think Of A Title Really Easily/ I Can't Think OF A Title For Love Nor Money kind of thing, actually. The thing with titles is that they need to be short and snappy, and also allude somehow to the story/blog post etc that they are heading.

I have no fixed pattern for deciding on titles when it comes to blogging. Sometimes I have a title worked out before I sit down to type, while other times I finish writing the piece, check for typos etc, find pictures if I need them, then spend x amount of time trying to think of a header.

When it comes to stories, however, I have two solid habits. When writing a longer length story - my two attempts at novels and my novel and novella length fan fictions fall into this category - I need my title right from the off. Generally I have a good idea where the story is going, and what the most important theme or aspect is going to be, and having my title fixed firmly in my mind helps me to stick to my theme.

Shorter stories, however, are a different kettle of fish. I don't think I've ever written a short story with the title already worked out. Usually I finish writing, then read through it to see if I can think of something snazzy to call it. I think short stories are more in my comfort zone because they are, to a certain extent, unplanned. All of my short stories tend to be written in one sitting, and usually I have no idea how they will end, I just wait and see where the muse takes me. Hence the No Title Until Finished habit.

But what I want to know is, does having a title up front make any difference to the story? Does it make you more focused? Are you more likely to stick to a plan if you have a title? Or do you feel the story needs to be finished before it can be given a name?

I think with blogs, it doesn't really matter so much, but if you are naming your book - something you have spent months, or even years, working on - it matters a great deal. Like naming a baby, naming your novel is a personal thing. I had the names for my children settled long before I gave birth to them, just as I named my longer stories/novels long before they were finished (or even written, for that matter). Some people might feel they can't name their baby (or book) until they see them face to face. Everyone's different, and one way is no better than another.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on titles...

Image permission.


  1. I was nodding in agreement as I read. When I got to Short Stories almost felt relief. Love to write ss but never have a title until I'm done.
    Sometimes a book title blocks me by making stick to something when maybe things should go another way. Know what I mean?

  2. Mary - Hi, it'snice to see a new face! And yes, I DO know what you mean, which is precisely why I never name a short story until it is done. I really need the structure for my longer stories though, so a title is a must or I will veer off-course...

  3. I get really stuck for titles for novels - I always end up refering to each one by the name of the main character - but then after the AGE that it takes to write one, I can't think of anything else to call the bloomin thing! For shorter pieces like short stories though, I'm feel less precious about them, so am able to title them a lot easier... but always do it at the end too...

  4. In my opinion it's what feels comfortable for the author. I can see how title may make some limited though.

  5. Titles are easy: everyone loves titling things, so you can draw a list of candidates from friends. Some are quite good. People can surprise you (by being inventive).

  6. Laura - I could never call a novel one thing then change it to another later on. It just wouldn't feel right - no wonder you can never think of one.

    Weesa - yup, it's definitely a personal thing. I suppose whatever works for each author...

    Mark - I'm *excellent* at titles for everyone else, I just get stumped for my own (which is typical). Asking others is good, but I'd have to be really struggling to do that. It would be like asking someone else to name your baby. Weird.

  7. I like to have a title for the longer ones, too... This Cozy Contract is a little strange, as I have a theme, but no title, and I think it is stopping me up. Shorts I am hit and miss on... if I don't have a blog title, I find I am more likely to ramble... in all cases, I am moderately willing to REname, if a better title occurs to me, but I need something initially to keep me on the road...

  8. I ramble whether I have a title or not. *snort* I think you are doing brilliantly on the Cozy gig though. I definitely couldn't write a novel to set parameters. I know the story itself is down to you, but you still have certain targets and restrictions.... my figurative hat goes off to you. *nods*