Writing Files: None of My Serious Stories Have a Real Title

writing files none of my serious stories have a real title

This year, I’m hunkering down and getting back into my writing. After spending a few years doing more reading than writing, I’m ready to switch that. The people in my head are not as patient as I am. Well, maybe a few, but they have loud, impatient friends who are getting really annoyed with me. Especially the one who has been rattling around telling off everyone else for about 23 years.

It’s been great to work on Queen of the Garden of Girls and Sisters of String and Glass since before the pandemic started, but I don’t have any plans to publish them in the near, or even middle-far future, at the moment, so they’re mostly fun writes to keep me writing at least a little. This year, though, I want to write and finish something I can attempt to get published. It was my childhood dream to see my stories in bookstores and, since my husband’s work makes it possible for me to be at home (we’ll bypass the fact that I’m currently home teaching two little kids), I’ve decided to try to make that dream a reality. I don’t plan on abandoning Sisters, but it’s also now not something I’m putting a whole lot of thought and planning to now that my characters have gone off the rails and I literally have no idea what they’re doing anymore. I surprise myself every day when I sit down to write something, anything.

Anyways, I’ve spent the first few weeks of the year going through my ideas and stories and I’ve started to try to narrow down what I want to focus on finishing. It’s been fun to go back through files that date back 20+ years. Sometimes I catch onto what it was supposed to be about. Other times I have nothing more than a title that no longer makes sense. It’s also been amusing to see how I’ve genre-hopped over the years. I have some romances that were abandoned really early on, some sci-fi I had to stop because I couldn’t figure out the science part of it, and even a mystery/thriller I was supposed to write for my mom’s birthday a lot of years ago but had to abandon because I can’t for the life of me figure out how to write a mystery.

Fortunately, I did manage to narrow it down:

  • Working title: Raven – this one is actually mostly finished and I’ve previously posted it here. I know exactly how it ends and can still envision it. I just have to actually write it.
  • Working title: Heart of Spring – the title doesn’t actually make sense with the way the story was unfolding, but I abandoned it a few years ago because I literally wrote my characters into a corner with zero ways out (oops), so it now requires a complete restart.
  • Working title(?): This Story – I started this one last year, but Sisters kind of took over. I still aim to finish this one. Other than calling it This Story, it has no working title. Even the file is called Untitled.
  • Working Title: Yule Story – I sketched this one out so many years ago, when my husband and I were wondering about child rearing and religion so I started to look into the pagan holidays and this story was just sparked. So I call it the Yule Story.

I figure I’ll pick one or two to focus on for this year, and will hopefully finish Raven, but, looking over all of the ones I’ve picked out, I noticed there are no real titles.

I’d like to point out that my two fun stories, Queen and Sisters, have actual titles. If I were to publish them, they would actually be titled Queen of the Garden of Girls and Sisters of String and Glass. But the ones I want to focus on for publishing? Not a single, real working title. I have no clue what that means, but my mind can’t help but be amused by that. Why is it easier to think of a good title for stories I don’t really plan on publishing? Why can’t I come up with anything at all for the ones I do want to publish?

Well, maybe the pressure is too much. After all, if it’s published, the title is the title because I don’t think I’d ever want to change it (coming up with it in the first place is hard enough!). But, for me, it’s more than that. Usually, titles come to me out of thin air and just perfectly encapsulate the story. These serious ones? I feel like I need to write the whole thing and I think at least one of them will get its title from a line in the story.

So, until I get to that magical last word of the story, I guess I have good enough sort of working titles. At least they’re good enough so I don’t get confused between files. I think I would have been in a bit of trouble if they were all called Untitled!

Do you write? How do you come up with titles?

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11 thoughts on “Writing Files: None of My Serious Stories Have a Real Title

  1. For working titles I tend to use my characters names unless a title springs to mind. For my short stories I either take a line from the story or I pick an adjective or a verb or whatever. But a lot of the time when it comes to actually titling novel-length work I ask my wife or my mum (or I don’t ask and they just suggest things once they’ve read it), shout-out to my mum for coming up with Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse which was a joke title she sent for the file “Merry Beta” requesting the next book in the series (which I’m still writing).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a lot of good ideas! I don’t let many people read the stories I’m really serious about, but maybe I should. It seems like a good idea to me to have someone who isn’t so close to the story suggest a good title for it. Your mom did a great job with the title! Personally, I love it and how incredibly appropriate and descriptive it is.


  2. I’m very bad with the titles. I have a preference for short ones, like “Oblivion”, “Betelgeuse”, and similar. They tend to reflect a location or a feeling. Anyway, it’s been literally years since I publish something… maybe such short names are now out of fashion. I see more and more books with titles like “Sisters of String and Glass” 😉…❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to agree. I quite like short titles. Looking at a lot of the books I read 20 years ago, their titles are a lot shorter and I miss those days. Now, they’re all so poetic, but I don’t understand what they really mean until I’ve read the whole book. Queen of the Garden of Girls just popped in my head one day and then I decided to run with that type of title for all the stories set in the same world, but I much prefer the short ones!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My naming of things is mostly serendipity. Sometimes a title suggests a story on its own merit. Other times I write an entire novel (as I did with my current series) and have a different working title until I have some sort of epiphany and figure it out. I’ve also been known to have a name day where I figure out a title as well as names of characters and places. It’s like everything in the writing profession, slap-dash yet planned that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love the idea of a name day! It sounds like it might make it easier when writing, at least for me as I’ll often sit and stare at my screen for a name to pop into my head. At this point, I’m really hoping for an epiphany as I can’t imagine any of my working titles sticking and nothing better is coming to mind. Now I miss the days of my childhood when those titles just rolled out so easily.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Quaking Soul was the hardest for me to title. It started out as simply “Dryad.” And although I like the idea behind Quaking Soul, I’m not sure everyone gets that it’s titled that because Na’rina’s the dryad of a quaking aspen. Oh well, we live and learn 🙂 Hopefully the next novel will be easier but so far it’s simply Hidden Mythics II.

    I look forward to hearing about whatever project you decide to work on more this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took me a little bit, but I eventually got it! It might not be the most descriptive title, but it’s also kind of like reading a book with a beautiful, albeit a bit strange title, until the last chapter when it’s mentioned and it suddenly clicks. I actually really like Quaking Soul. It hints at motion and maybe some internal struggles. Good luck titling Book 2!

      Liked by 1 person

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