Friday, December 11, 2009

What's in a Title and Other Writing Quandaries

Endings, titles, and names, oh my! Hmmm, maybe that should've been the title of this post...

Any-who, moving on.

Last night was a very good writing session for my Indian story. I cut 300 words and added 500 better words, thereby fleshing out about 90% of the scenes. Then I pondered over my ending. Many of you know, I'm horrible with endings. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I either rush them, drag them out, put the wrong ending, or leave too much untied.

I mean, the concept doesn't seem that hard: chose either the good, bad, or ugly. Whoa-la! Should be easy-peasy.
  • Good ending: The two species work it out and all is blissful in the land of my story.
  • Bad ending: The two species fight and destroy their homes, land, and ultimately their world.
  • Ugly ending: One of the species has to win over the other, killing off part of what makes their world...well, theirs.

But there's just so much more to it. To solve this, I wrote out each ending in turn and tried to focus on the point of the story and results from that particular angle. Then I went back and checked that each one's pacing timed well with the rest of the content. I know I'll have to tighten and clean a couple of times but first I'll finish the revisions and editing of the main story then test drive each one and see what fits best. Then I'll go from there.

Once I was happily done figuring this out I started thinking about a title. I've never started a story without one before. Usually it comes with the idea or I find it during the outlining phase. Titles are important, specifically in regards to stories submitted to anthologies and magazines. For these markets, your story has to be as complete as possible. With novels, it's quite common to have the publishing house change the title (or so the rumor goes).

I have 4, count 'em, 4 titles in mind and I can't decide. This probably means none of them are right. Each one is missing some aspect or "feel" of the story. They're just a little off course. Last night I decided to shelf them and return after each draft to see if one starts calling to me. It's the best I can do without going insane.

And now we arrive at names. After I complete my first drafts I always go back through and review the names I've selected for my characters, my species, and my locations (be it planet, country, or town). They can't overlap, sound too similar, evoke odd images, or clash with their characteristics. This one is actually easier for me than the others and I completed it fairly quick.

So, that's my progress and semi-tip for the day.

Good writing all!


  1. Whoo! it works. :D Awesome. Now I will be able to go comment for real. B-)

  2. It's interesting you brought up publishers changing titles for novels--I polled twitter asking for examples and got several, but I'm still looking for statistics that "most" novels are changed by an editor. It's been interesting.

    As for titles--I usually find I can't write until I have at least a working one to play with. I hear you about the difficulty finding one that fits and sounds right sometimes. :|

    Anyway, enjoyed the post, and happy writing. :D

  3. All right, we are in business. Thank you so much, Merc, for catching it.