Working titles

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Sanderling
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Working titles

Post by Sanderling » August 6th, 2011, 4:22 pm

Sort of as a spin-off from oldhousejunkie's thread on title confusion, I've been thinking about working titles. When I start a new manuscript it seems to take me about ten to fifteen thousand words before something sticks for me; I might change the working title two or three times before I settle on one that feels right. I think this is partly because it takes me ten to fifteen thousand words to really identify what's going on with my story (total pantser). My current WIP went from "Cat" to "Nine Lives" and is now saved on my hard drive as "Pawn to D8", the change occurring sometime after I realized the character didn't have nine lives, like I'd thought when I started writing, but only one.

How do you all approach your working title? Do you try to find something that fits early on, or just use a filler filename and leave the start of the manuscript empty until you're done (or you're hit by a flash of brilliant inspiration along the way)?
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Re: Working titles

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » August 6th, 2011, 4:28 pm

Yes, at first my CWIP was very nameless. but as it began to take a more completes shape the word Veil figured prominently. and in time it became Outer Veil and then Encountering the Outer veil. Finally I am sure this will end up being a saga series. So Now it is the Veil Saga!
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Watcher55
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Re: Working titles

Post by Watcher55 » August 6th, 2011, 4:41 pm

Sanderling wrote:Sort of as a spin-off from oldhousejunkie's thread on title confusion, I've been thinking about working titles. When I start a new manuscript it seems to take me about ten to fifteen thousand words before something sticks for me; I might change the working title two or three times before I settle on one that feels right. I think this is partly because it takes me ten to fifteen thousand words to really identify what's going on with my story (total pantser). My current WIP went from "Cat" to "Nine Lives" and is now saved on my hard drive as "Pawn to D8", the change occurring sometime after I realized the character didn't have nine lives, like I'd thought when I started writing, but only one.

How do you all approach your working title? Do you try to find something that fits early on, or just use a filler filename and leave the start of the manuscript empty until you're done (or you're hit by a flash of brilliant inspiration along the way)?
I do the same as you, but I record all my working titles on a single document that looks something like this:

The Dungeon
by
Watcher

Nine Days in July
by
Watcher

Back to Babel
by
Watcher

The Ninth Addict
by
Watcher

(There are more, but you get the idea)

I didn't settle on a title until the rough draft was complete, and one of the things I looked for was how the title looked with my name after it. That may sound a little conceited, but hey, I'm a writer, and besides, the title should look good with the author's name.

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Re: Working titles

Post by GKJeyasingham » August 6th, 2011, 8:01 pm

My working titles suck. I usually have a rough idea of the story beforehand, and since I hate naming a document, "Untitled Short Story", I give it a name that summarizes it vaguely (e.g. "Boy-Dad-Theme Park Story"). As I continue outlining (I'm an outlining panster), I eventually realize the various themes and concepts that are going on, all of which helps me come up with a solid title that usually sticks. Of course, things tend to change when I actually sit down and write/revise the story, so I adjust the title if necessary.

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Re: Working titles

Post by dios4vida » August 6th, 2011, 8:51 pm

My first WIP had a rather obvious title that could work, so it was named that: The Machavel Crystals. Meh. My second was based off of a saying I made for one major culture, and the title came from that: No Hill Without Treasure. I love that title, because it plays prominently and is a key to my protag's character arc. My current WIP was based off of a setting, The Underground, so that's what it's named. I still haven't come up with a decent title for it, though The Underground will definitely not remain for long. It has nothing to do with anything rather than the beginning point for my protag.
Brenda :)

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charlotte49ers
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Re: Working titles

Post by charlotte49ers » August 6th, 2011, 9:20 pm

I usually come up with a title pretty quickly, but that doesn't mean it stays that way. :)

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Sanderling
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Re: Working titles

Post by Sanderling » August 7th, 2011, 9:23 am

Thanks for sharing, everyone. It's fun to hear everyone else's process and seeing how titles develop and are chosen.

Watcher, I particularly like Nine Days in July. What did you end up settling on for that ms? That's interesting that you consider how it matches up with your name; I hadn't given that much thought, but it's very true that the two will be forever paired.

Brenda, I like your title No Hill Without Treasure, too. What's the meaning of the phrase?
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Re: Working titles

Post by Watcher55 » August 7th, 2011, 10:46 am

Sanderling wrote:Thanks for sharing, everyone. It's fun to hear everyone else's process and seeing how titles develop and are chosen.

Watcher, I particularly like Nine Days in July. What did you end up settling on for that ms? That's interesting that you consider how it matches up with your name; I hadn't given that much thought, but it's very true that the two will be forever paired.

Brenda, I like your title No Hill Without Treasure, too. What's the meaning of the phrase?
You're going to think I'm lying, but Nine Days in July got bumped up to the short list for the series title. I'm going with The Ninth Addict. Addict is what the ancients called a war slave, and this book is about how the war slave becomes a god.

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dios4vida
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Re: Working titles

Post by dios4vida » August 7th, 2011, 11:40 am

Sanderling wrote:Brenda, I like your title No Hill Without Treasure, too. What's the meaning of the phrase?
Thanks, Sanderling! The actual phrase is "There is no hill without treasure beneath," meaning that there's value everywhere. Somewhere, in everything, there's a nuggest of something worthwhile that deserves to be recognized and utilized to its best potential. In the book, it's used as a reason this culture takes an interest in my protag (he's forced into their midst, but they see the "treasure" within him) and as a key to figuring out the big puzzle of the book. I have to say that I love how that all happened.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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polymath
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Re: Working titles

Post by polymath » August 7th, 2011, 12:16 pm

dios4vida wrote:Thanks, Sanderling! The actual phrase is "There is no hill without treasure beneath," meaning that there's value everywhere. Somewhere, in everything, there's a nuggest of something worthwhile that deserves to be recognized and utilized to its best potential. In the book, it's used as a reason this culture takes an interest in my protag (he's forced into their midst, but they see the "treasure" within him) and as a key to figuring out the big puzzle of the book. I have to say that I love how that all happened.
I strongly believe the best titles are thematically based according to a central facet or emphasis of a narrative, i.e., setting, plot, idea, character, event, or discourse.

No Hill Without Treasure speaks volumes thematically that goes to setting, plot, idea, character, and event. It evokes a rewarding, monumental chore ahead to uncover a treasure within a hill, for one. And gosh shucks, that's metafictively metacognitive in an ars poetica kind of way. Discourse. Beautiful.

Ars poetica: noun 1. a treatise on the art of poetry or poetics, Webster's Unabridged; poetry about poetry, poetry writing, poets' journeys, poetry reading.
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Sanderling
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Re: Working titles

Post by Sanderling » August 7th, 2011, 11:24 pm

Watcher55 wrote:You're going to think I'm lying, but Nine Days in July got bumped up to the short list for the series title. I'm going with The Ninth Addict. Addict is what the ancients called a war slave, and this book is about how the war slave becomes a god.
That was my second choice of the four you posted, Watcher. I like the meaning behind it, now that you've explained it. I don't know why, but titles with the format The Something Something always seem to me like epic books. ;)
dios4vida wrote:Thanks, Sanderling! The actual phrase is "There is no hill without treasure beneath," meaning that there's value everywhere. Somewhere, in everything, there's a nuggest of something worthwhile that deserves to be recognized and utilized to its best potential. In the book, it's used as a reason this culture takes an interest in my protag (he's forced into their midst, but they see the "treasure" within him) and as a key to figuring out the big puzzle of the book. I have to say that I love how that all happened.
Neat, Brenda! I really like that sentiment. I agree with polymath that it says so much about the story of your book.

I love when things like that work out, too. In my WIP that's currently in revisions I introduced a hand gesture greeting in the second chapter that at the time I wrote it I didn't really know what it meant (that's me: pantser) and by the end of the book it represented a motto and theme that runs through the book and helps direct the main character.
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Re: Working titles

Post by CharleeVale » August 8th, 2011, 12:20 am

Titles come pretty easily for me. They don't always stay the same, but I do enjoy coming up with them!

CV

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Re: Working titles

Post by dios4vida » August 8th, 2011, 11:37 am

polymath wrote:
dios4vida wrote:Thanks, Sanderling! The actual phrase is "There is no hill without treasure beneath," meaning that there's value everywhere. Somewhere, in everything, there's a nuggest of something worthwhile that deserves to be recognized and utilized to its best potential. In the book, it's used as a reason this culture takes an interest in my protag (he's forced into their midst, but they see the "treasure" within him) and as a key to figuring out the big puzzle of the book. I have to say that I love how that all happened.
I strongly believe the best titles are thematically based according to a central facet or emphasis of a narrative, i.e., setting, plot, idea, character, event, or discourse.

No Hill Without Treasure speaks volumes thematically that goes to setting, plot, idea, character, and event. It evokes a rewarding, monumental chore ahead to uncover a treasure within a hill, for one. And gosh shucks, that's metafictively metacognitive in an ars poetica kind of way. Discourse. Beautiful.

Ars poetica: noun 1. a treatise on the art of poetry or poetics, Webster's Unabridged; poetry about poetry, poetry writing, poets' journeys, poetry reading.
Polymath (and Sanderling), you just made my day!! Thank you. I'll treasure that compliment. <blushes and grins and hurries to get out of spotlight>
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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polymath
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Re: Working titles

Post by polymath » August 8th, 2011, 4:04 pm

dios4vida wrote:Polymath (and Sanderling), you just made my day!! Thank you. I'll treasure that compliment. <blushes and grins and hurries to get out of spotlight>
Well put, diois4vida. I'm sparse in my praises of others. When I do, I mean it. Graciously giving and accepting warranted and sincere praise is a hallmark of professional writers, as for any discipline.

I strongly believe there's a disconnect in the self-promotion racket writers are forced to go alone. Too much ringing one's own bell and not enough allowing one's society to ring the bells praising outstanding contributions spoils the pleasure of even a job well done. I'll know I've reached the mark I've set when my work is publicly known and acclaimed far and wide. Not until then.
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MattLarkin
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Re: Working titles

Post by MattLarkin » August 8th, 2011, 5:41 pm

I usually have a fixed title before writing. Maybe as a planner, I tend to envision the book and its themes as a whole. Though my current novel, Moonrise, was originally going to be titled Eclipse. I changed it after the Twilight-explosion to avoid comparisons.
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