Titles Are A Bitch

I always have trouble picking a title. In fact, most of my titles are absurd, terrible, or outright wrong. I’ll give you several iterations of the same story, but with its title history.

  • Cameron (initial title)
  • Dishes During Spring
  • Best Friends
  • Best Friends Don’t Make The Best Lovers (or) The Cruelest Trick or the Coolest Friend
  • How To Be a Friend
  • Finding Friendship
  • Finding Friendship Amid Unrequited Desire
  • Blue Moon (current title)

The first title is the name of a character in the story, and not the main one. Second? Terrible! There’s slight mention of a dish off-handedly. The third title doesn’t work, because they aren’t best friends. Fourth is just awkward.  Fifth is a continuation of the poor friend theme. Sixth and seventh are similar, just one is more explanatory. The last one was given to me by a non-writer friend. And so far it works the best.

That is certainly a lot of titles to go through, and of course if I was less involved in the story, I would have chosen something similar.

The question is, what makes a good title? In this case, it has two meanings. My two main characters and forces in the book drink the beer Blue Moon. Also, something happens between the two that will never happen again, hence something happening in a blue moon. Double meaning that was totally unintentional that I will use for my advantage!

A good way to think of a title is as an invitation to the piece. If you are going to have a formal dinner party, you send out formal invitations with formal lettering. If your just getting together with friends to have some fun, you may use something like facebook or email to send out the invitation and not be fancy about it. With a title, you invite a reader into your story and that invitation should tell them something about the story, and give them an idea of what they might be getting into. For example, if you saw the title “Dishes During Spring” you might expect it to be about someone washing dishes after a party or cleaning up after something (which isn’t true for this particular story).

After think about the invitation as title, also think about a recurring image or theme that comes across in the piece. Perhaps there are a lot of balloons, or sea shells. You can attach a meaning to the balloons in a title like so, “LikeLollipops” and maybe the MC thinks they look like lollipops in the air. Or the sea shell, “Hermit Crab’s Shell” where you have a story about a man who’s a hermit like but comes out of his shell. You want the title to connect to the piece in more than one way, that way it has meaning other than just words at the front of the book.

And yes, titles are a bitch.


2 thoughts on “Titles Are A Bitch

  1. I’ll drink to that. I seem to have this amazing ability to pick some of the weirdest titles for mine. Courage of the Heart? Seattle Love? And Bad Romance I just named after the song that inspired the story (thank you Lady Gaga). I think this is some great advice and I’m going to use it as I work on my stories. Especially with my first ever sci-fy. I want to make sure it has a title that is just perfect.

  2. Titles are very hard! I am getting by with writing short pieces but it takes forever to come up with titles for them and they seem pretty lame to me. Oh well, this piece helps so thanks 🙂

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