A Tiny Title Tale

It’s time to get down to serious work on my next novel. I know this because in the last week, three crucial scenes have played out in my head. Of course, I can’t really spend my time writing because I’m not yet done preparing Brevity for publication.

As I said in a previous post, I have the print version formatted and I’m re-reading one last time for errors. And through the magic of Kindle, I’ve seen Brevity with new eyes and rooted out some bits of clunk and junk. I’ve also been working on the cover painting, and I’m happy to say the under-painting is done—unless I totally change my mind again! Next step is to format the ebook.

ANYWAY, back to the next novel. Though I refer to it as Fall, I have a full working title. It comes from what—right now—will be the last scene in the book. (At this stage, I don’t write in order. I record dialogue and sketch out scenes as they come to me.) The working title is a fairly decent one, but I started wondering if it will stick or change. Then I tried to remember when I titled The Brevity of Roses, so I looked at some old drafts to see if I could tell. In it’s first incarnation, in May 2008, it was only a short story first titled “Wisdom” and then “To Be Missed.” But then, a second story grew from that, and that one I titled “Short Life.” When a third story followed, I titled it “Third Sound.”

At that point, I started referring to these three stories as a novella with no working title, just a label, Trilogy. By November 2008, the file bears the name Novel_The Brevity of Roses. I searched that file for the word brevity and when I found its use, other than in the title, it was in a passage I’d forgotten and long since deleted.

Your turn: Let’s talk titles. Do you find it easy or hard to title your work? Do you start with a title or does it come to you later? Do your titles change as you work? Do you remember how you chose your titles? Has an editor changed any of your titles, and were you happy or sad about it? Do you have a title tale to share?

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27 thoughts on “A Tiny Title Tale

  1. My first novel was really hard to title. I don’t think I actually figured one out until it was almost done. My other two titles cam to me by the first chapter. I’m not sure what the difference was.

    By the way, I am so jealous that you can paint your own cover!


    1. I’m the same way, Candi. Sometimes the title comes early, sometimes I struggle for one after the fact.

      I guess that’s one of the perks of self-publishing, though of course all the rules say DON’T create your own cover. Because I’m an artist and could well be hired to create a painting for a book cover, I feel qualified to do my own. Then again, it’s not done yet. 😉


  2. With my short stories, the title emerges once the tale is complete. I suppose, for me, it’s a bit like writing the abstract of a paper but a whole lot more fun. It’s usually an essence of the story, or a pivot, or even a clue as to how it should be read – if you know how to read it! My short (very short) piece in The NOT comp, Rory’s Tie, was a play on words as ‘tie’ is what dogs get into when they are – ahem – embracing. Smug smartass, or what! Titles, for me, are definitely an emergent property and not the primary trigger.


      1. Mine too if I hadn’t had a Crufts enthusiast on my door step. When she first told me about her bitch getting in a tie, I can’t disclose what went through my mind. The truth was a positive relief and then earned its keep by being very appropriate for a tale that begins ‘He’s with that bitch again!’


  3. I didn’t come up with my title until awhile ago. But I didn’t really feel the need to try until then either. I just kind of, let the title come when it fit. When it did, I was absolutely sure it was the right one.


  4. With my short stories, I usually start with a title, but more often than not, it changes as the story evolves.

    My WIP has evolved the same way, but that’s the first time for a novel.


      1. I think I completely mis-characterized this .. I usually have a character and a point of conflict or change, or some sort of idea. But the title comes very quickly after that. I also forgot to say that quite often it gets changed as the story evolves.

        When I wrote my comment above, I’d just had a weird experience of going for a walk and thinking that I had no flash fiction done for the last Sunday of the month coming up, which is my regular FF day. As I walked, the phrase “highway robbery” came to mind. An idea came from that .. which is what prompted the comment. And in flash, the title does come very early. Not so much with other work.

        I think I’ll stop now before I make this even more convoluted than I have already. 😉


  5. I’m working on something now that I want to manifest into three separate novels. I know the name for the trilogy, but I can’t figure out the names for each book yet.

    Usually, titles occur to me either after I finish the first draft or as I develop the story. I wrote a short story for a course months ago that I still haven’t given a proper title (it had one upon submission, but not one that satisfied me.)


      1. I agree. It’s important that the title attracts readers, and it’s also important that after a reader finishes the book, the title still makes sense to them.

        I’ve read some books that have confused me. I finish one, look back at the title, and wonder “what does that have to do with anything?”


  6. I almost always have a title in mind first, whether it’s for a book or a blog post. When I don’t, I find the writing comes much slower — it’s like the title is the “on” switch for me.


  7. Titles are sometimes a struggle. It uncommon for me to have a title before I start writing. But as with everything, I am consistently inconsistent so who knows. The title to my next story might just fall out of the sky immediately.


  8. We need titles? Seriously? Joking.

    It happens in this order for me. Idea, Title, Ending, Plotting, Writing. Pick new title because by then I’ve already talked too much about the book online and it has morphed into something new. LOL Fortunately, generating titles comes easy for me. 😀


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