Titling Woes: Scalawags, Spoilers and Red Herrings

Reactions to my Titles

Reactions to my Titles

I have a confession to make. Don’t laugh. I’m a writer, and I stink at titling. I mean really stink!

As I’m working on an idea, and as it develops into a story, I grace it with a rough working title to distinguish it from all the rest of the incubating, growing and metamorphosing stories. A one- or two-word description is usually the result. Some examples? Right now I’m working on: ย “Ghost Train,” “Detilba,” “Crow Girl,” “Clone,” and “Lila and Ruby.” My one exception is “Do Not Cherish Me So Much,” which is close to being set aside. Its crime is having gotten hopelessly out of my control (see post titled “To Err is Human.” Yep, this is that story!).

The good news is that I’m aware of my inability and am working on it. Two great resources for titles are hereย at Diabolical Plots, and here at SFWA. I read them over and over, and try to incorporate their wisdom in my titling efforts.

The bad news is that my progress seems glacial. Any “good” name I come up with apparently gives away the ending. Relevant, meaningful titles escape my mind. Also, by the time I figure out my story and what it’s really about, that ‘working title’ has entrenched itself in my brain so firmly that it’s like trying to eradicate rabbits from Australia! Working titles have become my personal kudzu, strangling any other likely ideas before they can take hold.

What’s the solution? I’m not sure there is one. I’ll keep plugging away at it, hoping for the magic to strike. Hmm, like so much else in writing, perhaps practice will make perfect. Or at least it will make my titles not quite so pathetic.

What ideas do you use in coming up with titles?


About M.E. Garber

I'm an itinerant Ohio-born speculative fiction writer now living in north central Florida.
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2 Responses to Titling Woes: Scalawags, Spoilers and Red Herrings

  1. Puss in Boots says:

    I make my writing group do it for me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kidding, kidding. But I really do ask them for ideas, and sometimes their words give me new, better ideas of my own. I also like to use key words from the story and do a search for quotes at thinkexist.com or similar quote repositories.


    • M.E. Garber says:

      Thanks for the thinkexist.com tip! I’ve been known to ask both my writing groups for tips or suggestions, but it’s nice to have a “fallback plan” in case they come up blank, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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