Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Rose by a Name Can't be Judged by its Cover

Today, we're going to talk about titles. Titles are super important to me, and I won't rest until I find the perfect one. For some stories, I have a title in mind before I even start. Sometimes I think of it in the middle. And some, the story is over and done by the time I give it a proper name.

The thing about titles is that they have to fulfill so many requirements. They must:

  • Be cool
  • Make some sort of sense with the story
  • Hopefully take on some other meaning while/after the story is read

I have lists and lists of possible titles. Most of them come from the NaNoWriMo forum, in the "Adoptables" sections. People post things like titles, plot twists, names, pieces of dialogue, etc., and other people can then use them in their own stories. I adopt a lot of things.

Starting with a title is an interesting prospect. Most titles can be interpreted several ways, and you have to figure out what kind of story you want to pull out of it. Let's dig into my stash of titles and speculate about some potential tales.

  • Skyscrapers and Stargazers. Strangely enough (for me) I think this is a love story. Two people set up telescopes on balconies or roofs or whatever, and while looking at the distant stars, they manage to find something a lot closer.
  • Liminality. Limen is a Latin word meaning "threshold." Something that is liminal is sort of between one thing and another. Apparently in anthropology, the term "liminality" means a transitional period. So this could be a coming-of-age story. This could be someone taking the opportunity to reinvent themselves in a new city. This could be anyone on the verge of becoming someone or something else.
  • Quantum Meddling. This is definitely a sci-fi story. What we're meddling with at the quantum level, I can't be sure. Maybe we'll rewrite a bit of reality (just a teeny bit), and have to deal with the repercussions.
  • Tilting at Windmills. This is a reference to Don Quixote, and the title character's attempt to fight windmills, which he believed were giants. Basically it means to be fighting imaginary enemies. This could go several ways. It could be a fantasy/supernatural story wherein a characters fights things only they can see, while everyone else thinks they're crazy. It could also be a more realistic story where someone's problems are in their own mind, or of their own making.

Titling an existing tale can be arguably more difficult. Now you have to find that perfect combination of words that will describe your plot and characters. Unless I'm lucky enough to have something just come to me, I'll usually figure out a word or a concept that I want to focus on, and try to figure out what other words should go around it. Sometimes I'll use a line from a song that seems to fit, or some place or element from within the story. Sometimes I'll just find a phrase that has the right words in it.

At this particular moment, the story that I'm working on still doesn't have a title. Both the Word document it's in, and the OneNote page about it are entitled "Night Train to Nowhere" because that was what I scribbled at the top of some notes I was making about it. But the story takes place (so far) in mid-afternoon, so that name doesn't make any sense. It's just a place holder while I think of something better.

If anyone (anyone) has any wild suggestions for a title, feel free to comment. Or comment anyway. This is a conversation, not a monologue.

1 comment:

  1. I think anything with a chicken in the title will sell but these other stories all sound great too how do you have time to think up all of these stories and when doing so does it affect the current story you are working on? Do your stories overlap or do you just have to seclude yourself be it literally or otherwise.
    I also think it is interesting how the barlow story is coming along what does the train have to do with it the suspense is killing me !!!!!!!!!!