How in The World Do I Come Up With a Story?
I never expected to struggle with story titles. And I haven’t really considered it much until recently.
Whenever I write stories that I don’t publish or don’t need to submit for class assignments, titles arent an issue. If anything most of these pieces get temporary titles that get changed often the more I develop the story.
Though for one story, I knew the title before I even started writing it. Nonetheless, for many stories that start off with writing and plotting, their titles are usually undecided.
Having to submit stories for class assignments and having to publish stories for my newsletter has really opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t really know what I want to name/title my stories.
So, as I have been writing more and more, I can’t help but wonder how in the world I should come up with good titles for my stories.
At the same time, I do know that one way or another, at the start of a book or in the end, a title will come. But in light of my struggle, I have become very curious about the topic.
And that is what you’re exploring with me today.
An option for push notifications is coming soon. Be on the lookout and be sure to check back sometime next week to turn them on.
If you want to read the stories I write then subscribe to my newsletter.
Now, let us explore…
What Does A Title Do?
Are story titles even necessary?
Yes, they are. Story titles are not just there to complete the classic look of a book cover.
Story titles have a purpose.
What is a story title: It’s the words on the cover: one sentence ( or so ) with a few words to encapsulate the thousand words that make up the story. And they can do many things. Number 1 on this list really helps to clarify what titles are for. And the rest talk about what titles can do and are used for, in addition to number 1.
- Identify a piece of work: The first and most important purpose of a story title is to differentiate one story/book from another. One story can be thousands or even millions of words. So story titles give people a way to refer to, look for, talk about, sell or write about a particular story by its title – A story tile answers ‘which/what story?’
- A title can draw the reader’s attention to an aspect of the story: Stories and books can have many aspects, themes, messages, symbols, and lessons within them. So a story title can lead a reader to pay attention to a specific theme, aspect, or component of the book.
- A title can draw the reader’s perspective to the issue of the story – The conflict/ main problem: Following the trend of #2, a story title can also bring the reader’s attention to the conflict that occurs in the story. Either the main conflict or mini re-occurring conflicts.
- Summarize a story: This is something you, a writer and/or reader might be familiar with because it is very common for a title to summarize a story. By just reading the title it can be easy to figure what the story is about.
4 Characteristics of a Good Book Title
A title can look like many things but I’ve observed that all titles have these basic characteristics that help them be great.
- A title related to the story: At the very least a story title should be related to the story. Even if it’s in a super metaphoric or indirect way. A title should reflect what’s beyond the cover.
- An effectively sized title: Have you noticed that many book and story titles are between 1 – 10 words? It’s a lot easier for a reader to remember a book if its title isn’t too long. But it is possible to have a really long story/book title; I guess the rule of them is to have a title whose length is effective (fitting) for the story being told, keeping in mind how it’s length will affect readers.
- An original title: There is nothing wrong with writers and authors having genuinely similar titles but if every writer used the same title how could readers remember which is which or recommend the right story without explaining the whole thing; Original titles help with distinction and have a specialty to them that can’t be beaten.
- An intriguing title. If readers can’t judge a book by its cover then their first impressions will come from it’s title. So great titles are interesting and help catch a reader’s attention.
Does a Story Need a Title?
Yes, a story does need a title. It doesn’t need one immediately, like as soon as you come up with the idea for the piece. But if you’re looking to publish the story/book then a title is needed.
6 Things to Remember When Creating Story Title
Okay, so I had fun exploring story titles. And I’m feeling a lot more confident about titling my stories. But did all this exploring and research pay off?
Yeah. Not only did I find out that the longest book title was 27, 978 words long, but I think I know how to approach coming up with a title for my stories. And I’ve compiled this sort of strategy for doing so…
- Be original – I find that originality is super important for story titles. The same amount of originality and creativity that goes into writing the story/book should go into the story title too.
- But it doesn’t have to be complicated – The story’s title doesn’t have to hold the most exquisite vocabulary and rare forms of punctuation and what have you. It can simultaneously be good and simple, or good and straight to the point. But if complicated is your thing, then do your thing.
- It can be deep – I do like titles that make me think and have deeper meaning and connection to the story. So that when I finish the story I can go ” Ah that’s why it has that title” or “Oh that’s what the title means”
- To each his own: Your process, may be different from my process of coming up with a title. But whatever brings out the best title is the way: Think about your title at the beginning of the process or at the end. Make it a mystery or make it straightforward. Do your research for a title with great symbolic significance or use things you know. Do whatever you need to ( except stealing) to get your title.
- Don’t be afraid: Some experimenting may be good for coming up with a title. So you and I should have fun and not be afraid of making changes to a title when needed ( even if it is scratching the whole thing ).
- Don’t miss THE moment: I think the most important thing is to not miss THE moment when you know and feel that a certain title just fits. Because when you know, you know. Also, don’t miss moments of inspiration for your title.
And that’s it. Or maybe not. Maybe you have more tips and things that we could add to this list. Well, spill the beans and comment your strategies.
Well if you read the post I published before this one you know what’s next.
Another Writing This Week!
Every week we’ll go a little deeper into my journey toward being a successful, as we go through me journey week by week.
Last week was the first Writing This Week and the one coming up will be second. Which means that you don’t have too much to binge on. So read that post and come back for the next one.
Don’t just be a good writer, be a great one
Until my next words (on here that is)