What makes a good title for a story and how do you come up with names?


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Thread: What makes a good title for a story and how do you come up with names?

  1. #1

    What makes a good title for a story and how do you come up with names?

    My final title has a paradox. But I originally got the title from a lewis carroll poem. But sometimes you are not so lucky. I used baby generation engines for names. But it took a long time to settle on a name. What approach or strategies do you take? I also based my short story on a famous short story writer, and tweaked the name and changed it. For fear of using public names.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  2. #2
    I don't worry too much about titles, usually they suggest themselves at some point.

    I like looking up the meaning of etymology of names and choosing something that reflects an aspect of the character or story.

  3. #3
    Sometimes the title can lure readers. Since my entry was for a contest. I tried everything. Because I want to win 1st place. My family is currently reading it. The final title is after much thought:

    The Haunted World that Performed Miracles.

    I consider it finished but it can be a novel (if I wrote much more). A good title ignites interest imo. It suggested itself after writing it. Imo it is a paradox. It is after a lot of thought I came up with it. I wanted to think of one very good one for halloween submissions to a magazine and a contest. This was the final result.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; February 21st, 2020 at 08:11 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  4. #4
    I can't say how I come up with my titles as it's a case by case basis, but be sure to come up with a good one, cause so many stories nowadays have these short generic titles, that don't seem to have a lot of thought put into them.

  5. #5
    Exactly. It almost markets a story by having thought up of a good title. In my case, I wrote the best one I could think of because I want to win.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  6. #6
    Title and cover art are both important in commercial fiction.

    I'm interested in category romance, but there's so much inventory out there, that one's title and cover art has to strike the right kind of reader the right way or your book will be lost in the flood.

    Cover art that shows a man's six pack, I automatically reject. It suggests to me that someone in the stream of publishing that book got lazy, possibly because the story didn't merit much more effort than the trite. Similary for the word "billionaire" in the title.

    On the other hand, a title like "Grumpy Fake Boyfriend" (Jackie Lau) sets up both the story and the voice. A shopper may not want to read that story, but you don't have to waste time reading the blurb to know what kind of a story this is.

    Or a title like "The Cinderella Deal" (Jennifer Crusie) poses a question that might provoke a shopper to read the blurb, giving the author a better shot at hooking that sale.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the excellent examples and for the post. I'd want to read those stories. I suspect readers can have a short attention span. That is why tv has taken up so much of people's time. But that is just my opinion.

    Also if writers dont want to think a lot about it. Why not leave it for after the story? Or ask for someone to give an opinion on the title.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; February 21st, 2020 at 08:45 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  8. #8
    I can't tell you what makes for a good title, as I've grown to dislike the title of my first novel and haven't yet decided on one for my second.

    For characters, just pick names that are simple or meaningful. A complicated or made-up name can be difficult to read and remember, but a short, crisp one makes for good storytelling. You'll also find that, no matter what you pick, eventually you'll think of the character as that, and it'll seem like it was the right choice all along.

    For my first story, I chose names based on their meaning. "Markus," meaning war-like, was the name of a soldier. His companion is Evert Ritter, a name that roughly means "Brave Knight." For my second story, I left it even simpler. The main character is named Parul (peril) because his life is dangerous. The secondary character is Valli because she lives - wait for it - in a valley. Overly simplistic? Maybe, but 55000 words in, I think they're great.
    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

    "I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story." - Tom Clancy

  9. #9
    I like the name Valli by the way I agree with you on using simple names. I chose English names and not foreign names. At one point I tried foreign names thinking the reader would catch on to the meaning. I simply chose names such as one which is Fortune. Godfrey and Miles. I initially had prosper/prospero/umberto (foreign name) and Fortunato. The last name came from the short story a Cask of Amontillado. I decided against using anything from public domain names since a rule of the contest is not to use them. For one story I had Frankenstein which I regretted when I submitted a story with that character. So your advice makes a lot of sense to me.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  10. #10
    Member hvysmker's Avatar
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    I use simple common names except in a few fantasies. And try to avoid similar naming, such as Billy, Bob, and Bill.

    Some good choices, 6heglasshouse, but just what is a public domain name?

    For foreigners such as Russians, I'll Google for "famous Russians" then mix first and last names, maybe throwing in a middle name or initial. Takes longer to explain than to do it.

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