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MauMaster

Well, I'd be the first to say that titles are not my forte. But I thought that I could possibly try to give some ideas of what I think makes a good title and see what everyone else thinks. Also, for anyone that's seen the summary topic, which I've gotten a huge help from, I was hoping this could become the sort of topic where everyone helps each other out with titles :)

So... feel free to disagree on any point I make with titles. I'm not exactly great at them myself.

1. Use correct capitalization. Capitalize all words except fillers like "a" and "the". The only exceptions are if the filler is in the beginning of the title.

2. Depending on your story and how you want to present it, be aware of how you use tone. For example, a book called The Outsiders sounds infintely more serious than Green Eggs and Ham (both are great books, in my opinion).

3. Find an important word or phrase that sticks out in your story and try to use it in some way. In one of my fics, the character is obsessed with getting the last word in an argument, no matter what he has to say to get to that point. So, I titled it "Last Word". Sure, it's simple, but like I said, I'm not the best at titles.

4. If you don't like the above method (which I admit is really faulty), trying and find something that just sticks. I have another fic that's not posted (nor will it ever be, in my opinion) that's titled Numb. I initially titled it that because it's the title of a Linkin Park song and the fic that preceded it was also named after a Linkin Park song, but as I looked over it, I realized that my character truly was making himself numb to feeling at several times. Sometimes titles fit more than they would seem.

5. If all else fails... ask others on this sit! Anybody else have ideas, because I'm not liking mine too much ^^.

What are your views on naming fics after songs? I don't mean songfics, which aren't really allowed on the site anyhow (I dislike them, personally). But sometimes I have a song that I listen to a lot while writing a fic and somehow the ideas will merge into the fic. I'm considering naming a Harry Potter fic after a RENT song (whoa, fandom merging much? It's not a crossover, though). However, I'm playing with the title simply because I like the title. I don't think that the song really fits, but the title might. Besides, when all else fails for me, music is usually the solution. I've gotten relatively good titles out of my playlists.

8/24/2009 #1
Kitsune no Tora

I typically find a theme or an idea that the story presents and title it accordingly. I like titles to have some sort of meaning or give the reader an idea of what the story might be about.

I don't like songfics either, personally. But I don't mind stories being named after songs - obviously the song meant something to the writer, and therefore the story itself.

8/24/2009 #2
MauMaster

I typically find a theme or an idea that the story presents and title it accordingly. I like titles to have some sort of meaning or give the reader an idea of what the story might be about.

I agree, I like that sort of thing. My troubles are usually locating the theme I want to present and getting into title form. I've seen people that do that but try and make it more interesting by having it in a different language, like French or Latin or something... I don't know. I've seen a few good fics that do that, but truthfully, I'd much rather have a simple sounding title than one I can't read or understand. What do you think?

8/24/2009 #3
Kitsune no Tora

I agree, I like that sort of thing. My troubles are usually locating the theme I want to present and getting into title form.

I usually think about the fic and then come up with as many different title ideas as I can. Then I usually pick one, or if I can't decide, ask a friend which one they think is better. ^^

I've seen people that do that but try and make it more interesting by having it in a different language, like French or Latin or something... I don't know. I've seen a few good fics that do that, but truthfully, I'd much rather have a simple sounding title than one I can't read or understand. What do you think?

Hmm. That's a tough question for me, actually. I don't mind titles in foreign languages, and I'll usually click them because it piques my interest, if the title sounds or looks nice. But I do have to say that I prefer titles that I can actually understand without a translator or dictionary, yeah.

8/24/2009 #4
Resident Bishounen

I've seen people that do that but try and make it more interesting by having it in a different language, like French or Latin or something... I don't know. I've seen a few good fics that do that, but truthfully, I'd much rather have a simple sounding title than one I can't read or understand. What do you think?

I think something like this might work if the foreign phrase is a famous quotation, an untranslatable phrase, or a slang expression that doesn't have an equivalent in the language the fic's written in. Otherwise, what's the point on using another language if it doesn't add anything?

If the title's just as understandable in the language the fic's in, you risk sounding pretentious for using a title in a different language for no reason.

Mind you, I'm horrible at titling. I usually go with the first thing that pops into my head no matter how much I dislike it because I can't come up with anything better.

8/24/2009 #5
Wildcard999

I think there was already a titles thread here, but I think this one has a lot more useful info in the first post.

When I name a fic, I try to create something catchy, that also relates to the overall tone or plot of the fic.

Center of the Universe: Mary Sues are always the center of their own universes, but in this one, the main point is that this is challenged.

Good Knight, little Bird: May need to be changed. It's supposed to be Good Night, Little Bird, but with a K since it's a Batman fic. And I think the bird reference is pretty obvious now.

Empty Nests: Sounds ominous when taken with the summary. More bird references because of the Batclan (they were always doing bird jokes for them). It also relates to the fic because their home is empty by the end of fic.

Joke's on Batman: 'The joke's on you!' was a popular comeback that shows the other person unexpectedly gets the raw end of the deal. I took what looked like a really nice thing--saving someone's dad--and showed just how screwed the kid is just because of that one, seemingly-kind act. It also reference the key people in the story: Batman and the Jokerz gang.

Freedom for All?: It's a story about prejudice, hate and oppression. There's three, general sides to the same conflict, plus many, many individuals who may fall on one of the three sides that work independently. It's basically a free-for-all. I spent about two weeks coming up with this one. And this is after I'd been working with a really sucky one for about two months because I was still mostly working on writing the story itself and expecting a real title to emerge, like usual.

Origin of a Serial Killer: Not the most imaginative, I know, but it was one of my first. He's a serial killer, and this is his origin story. I think people only like the name because 'serial killer' sounds cool and captures your attention immediately.

Normally, I don't have much trouble coming up with a title for my fics. I used to think I sucked at titles, but I did an overhaul on my self-esteem, and practiced writing summaries. Once I was able to compact an entire story down into a few sentences, it became a lot easier to compact it even more into just a few words.

As for naming fics after songs, I think that if the song title really says something about the fic, or the song itself does, I think that's a good idea. If one has nothing to do with the other, I really don't see the point. You might as well go with 'untitled'. Believe it or not, I actually saw a fic called 'untitled'. Yeah. And I hear it was a kickass fic, too. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

My troubles are usually locating the theme I want to present and getting into title form.

I'll usually list all the different arcs in a story, then look at which one takes up more of the story. Whichever one is most prominent, that's the one I name the fic after. Freedom For All? was the hardest because there were so many, but the prejudice angle was the biggest. Showing how easily people can be tricked into fighting on the wrong side just by manipulating the proof you show people was more of a background thing. Prejudice was definitely in the forefront.

I think something like this might work if the foreign phrase is a famous quotation, an untranslatable phrase, or a slang expression that doesn't have an equivalent in the language the fic's written in. Otherwise, what's the point on using another language if it doesn't add anything?

I kind of agree. A famous saying like 'Que Sera Sera' or 'Carpe Diem' makes sense for a title. But most people don't know slang in other languages. You're lucky to find someone who knows more than one language formally, but slang? There aren't that many who speak more than one language every day.

If the title's just as understandable in the language the fic's in, you risk sounding pretentious for using a title in a different language for no reason.

Very true. Unless there's a running theme with the language (like it's part of the character's history), or someone else posted a fic of the same name, I see no point in changing it.

8/24/2009 . Edited 8/24/2009 #6
oXXb00kw0rmXXo

(MauMaster here) Writing as bookworm right now, because I have some titles under this name I want to discuss. and sorry, i didn't realize there was another thread for this! Whoops! I guess I should try and find that one... But first, I really like the pun in Good Knight, little Bird, because I'm really corny like that :)

I'm only going to touch on one or two of my Twilight ones, because, well, eek!

What Edward Cullen Will Never Do: It's a list fic but has a story incorporated. It's actually mostly a story, because I mostly dislike the list fics. They bore me after a while. It's basically a bunch of lists of what different characters will never do, along with commentary by a few select chracters (Alice almost always commentates, because she was too fun to stop after the first). It was originally meant to be a oneshot and only have Edward's list, hence the title.

Chaos at the Cullens: Another humor, but this one had an odd amount of success since it's sort of a crackfic... not the thing I usually read, but I noticed that a lot of readers like them. So, who am I to argue? It was for a challenge and basically my plot was a bet between two characters - who could cause the most chaos in within their family? It ended in a mass of trouble and well, chaos! Plus, I was trying out the whole alliteration thing at the time. Besides me (failed) crossover, this is my best known Twilight fanfiction. I'm not even talking about the crossover, despite the fact that everyone seemed to like it a lot (HOW? It's horrible!!)

Soo... Harry Potter has some titles I'm proud of.

What I've Done: I mentioned before fics named after songs. This is my fic after a song and it really has to do with the story. Basically, the plot is that Harry has ruined everything in his life and in the timeline. The story turned out the be a flashback in a way (have you read the Outsiders? How the entire book is basically an essay for class? Well, that's what this is, it's Harry telling someone his story at the end after he's had time to reflect of all the mistakes he's made). So, while I was writing, this song really stuck to me, because it talks about how the musician is trying to wash away everything he's done and start over. Basically the Harry in my story.

My Son, the Slytherin: I like alliteraton. A lot. And this was intended to be part of a oneshot series (ack, I'm only halfway through the second, I've been working for months), so I had a bunch of titles related. My Son, the Slytherin is first, then My Dad, the Death Eater, My Mum, the Muggle, and finally, My Daughter, the Disowned (that last one is a joke... nobody is really disowned. I could write it that way, but then it doesn't exactly fit in my timeline, which is nextgen).

Music in the Divided Soul: A humor fic that comes from the saying "Music is in the soul" or whatever the quote is. It's actually the Harry Potter version of my Twilight fic, "Music in the Nonexistent Soul". I needed something that connected with harry Potter, though, and the summary is basically "Come and join the characters of the Harry Potter series sing their way through the plot of the books!" (that's not the summary verbatim). By characters, I include the Death Eaters (Bellatrix has a solo coming up). I take songs and changed the lyrics to fit the universe. I figured that since I wanted to use "soul" in the summary, a divided soul could work. Why not have Voldemort sing at some point? I still need to find a song for him... I happen to like this title a lot.

Real World series: I have several for this. The first fic was the intro, really, just showing you the universe because it's AU. So that's called Welcome to the Real World, becaus ethat's a repeated line throughout the fic. The others are all focusing in on a different value and lesson that the mainc haracter has to learn. Home, Family, and Knowledge are what I have written. Very simple titles, but I think it tells a lot as far as this series. I don't know how many more of these I'll be writing, especially seeing as only the the first and Home are up, but whatever I do, the last will be called (ironically) Beginning.

Some of these title are better than I thought they were at first. Others... aren't. At all.

8/24/2009 #7
Wildcard999

I think it fell down past the fourth or fifth page. I saw it a really long time ago and didn't really think it would stick if I bumped it. Plus, I was on a mission to find something else.

But first, I really like the pun in Good Knight, little Bird, because I'm really corny like that :)

Lol, thank you? XD

Chaos at the Cullens

Shouldn't that have an apostraphe to show possessive? It's the Cullen's place that has the chaos, right? I mean, otherwise it looks like chaos is being hurled at the Cullens.

Lol, nothing wrong with alliteration, so long as you don't overdo it. And with only two alliterated words in the titles, I'd say it's not overdone. I like them! Oh, and don't worry about the Disowned not having anyone literally disowned, so long as she is essentially treated like she's close to it or something metaphorically similar, that's all that counts. Titles don't have to be exactly accurate. I never wrote about any nests, yet I named a fic Empty Nests. ;)

"Music in the Divided Soul" is certainly intriguing, I'll give you that. And a HP has a lot of divided loyalties, conflicting emotions, etc., so it goes well with more than just Voldemort. I was actually interested until you said they were singing their way through the books. Sorry, not a musical fan. It's just not realistic.

So that's called Welcome to the Real World...

O.O I just wrote a one-shot I'm still debating whether or not I should post that's called that! You stole my title! X0 jk

Some of these title are better than I thought they were at first. Others... aren't. At all.

Lol. That tends to happen, especially after you try to explain your thinking. IDK, I guess revealing the mystery behind your title choices sort of makes them sound petty and stupid. But I'm trying to ignore that and remember that I liked those titles well enough when I posted them, so screw what people think of my motivations. ;)

8/24/2009 #8
Permanent

My titles are vague and very simple, but that's probably because they're mostly ficlets or one-shots. :p

8/24/2009 #9
Maryilee

I'm hit or miss with titles. I have one from a song title (although it's not a song fic at all, it just that the lyrics fit the character). I love the title, but...it's super long! lol. I didn't think of that and so writing an IM to a friend chatting about the story becomes cumbersome. I've taken to just using TCADTS as short hand for it. I have another fic called Enemy Combatant. I thought it was appropriate, flat out stated the topic/plot and was nice and short. I'm now re-doing that story as an original novel, and didn't want to use the same title. One, there's already a published book (non-fiction) with that title. If I'm ever fortunate enough to get published, I didn't want my book confused with that one. Two, Enemy Combatant will always be about Gary Hobson from Early Edition. It just didn't seem right to slap the title on another story about someone else. lol.

So, for months, I just called it Nameless. (which kind of fit because the character is pretty much treated as a nameless sub-human.) I was out walking one day, and listening to the song "Superman" by Five for Fighting. The lyric 'Even heroes have the right to dream' hit me like a brick. That's it! The story is about a guy who has prophetic dreams, then gets locked away and stripped of his basic rights as a citizen. So, now it's called The Right to Dream.

8/26/2009 . Edited 8/26/2009 #10
Wildcard999

I actually have two fics that I'm having a heck of a time trying to name. I think it's because they need to be rewritten, but I'd still like to give them good names, just so it doesn't suck to have them on my profile.

The first is currently named Why?

FFN summary: I was just minding my own buisness. Who are you?

Descriptive summary: A young mutant girl goes for a walk through the rain one day. Then out of nowhere, she's tackeled by some guy she never saw before who proceeds to choke the life out of her. After a lengthy struggle, she dies.

The fic is pretty much half a thought that has almost no depth to it, but it's an early work, so what do you expect?

The other is currently named Finally.

FFN summary: Death becomes her well...but why does she have to keep talking?

Descriptive summary: Another death scene. Yeah, I was pretty screwed up then. One of my biggest badguys at the time thinks he's killing his lifelong enemy, but it turns out to be an alternate version of her that's never really hurt anyone. There's some emo angsting on his end and embarrassingly pathetic worrying-about-the-greater-good on her's, with an undercurrent of sexual tension. In the end, she dies, and he leaves, likely to find another version of her to kill because he's a paranoid, insane freak that sees his enemy everywhere.

Oh, and if anyone has opinions on the FFN summaries, I welcome that as well. It's just not important enough for me to post in the other thread yet.

8/26/2009 #11
oXXb00kw0rmXXo

Hm. Okay, the first one is called Why? then... I don't see how it pertains to the story, but that's becaue I haven't read it or anything. I guess it could be why did it happen to this girl... Since I don't know much, this is a hit or miss title suggestion, but how about Gasping for Air? I dunno, I saw choking and it popped into my head. Gasping for Air doesn't only have to go with choking, you could probably find some symbolism out of it. I don't know, maybe people had such high expectations of her that she felt like she couldn't breathe at times?

Okay, next one... let's see if we have better luck there! Finally... hm, what can we do with this? I would suggest something like Blurred Image or Through the Wrong Eyes because they both have to do with seeing something and your character keeps thinking that he's seeing his enemy, even though one of them turns out to be an alternate version of them and it's a huge mistake. Eh, I dunno... What do you think?

8/27/2009 #12
WinchesterPhantom

DW - I think Why? actually works. Your summary alludes to a pointless and violent death - a stranger just kills a girl. Now while you might have a reason for why the stranger did this, I get the feeling the mutant has no idea why it happened and thus questions 'Why?'

Of course thats just my interpretation so...could be way of

8/27/2009 #13
Wildcard999

No, you're totally on the ball, Winchester. The killer has a reason, but the mutant is totally lost. She doesn't even know who he is! It's completely out of nowhere to her.

Thanks!

Gasping for Air sounds like a good title, but it doesn't fit the fic. Why? applies to more elements and I have to rewrite the story to get any symbolism for Gasping for Air. Thanks for trying!

What about Irony or Another One Bites the Dust for the second one? I forgot to mention that fic is mostly from the victim's POV, not the killer's. Both fics are, actually.

8/28/2009 #14
HK-47 Scarlet

My titles tend to be pretty simple. I find that they usually don't have any 'hidden meaning' behind them. They're kinda' obvious.

Hm, is that a bad thing, I wonder?

8/28/2009 #15
Wildcard999

It's not bad, per se, just not complex. It's like the difference between painting a cat standing on it's hind legs to make a statement about how the lower social classes feel they are not allowed to be who they are because it's looked down upon, and just painting a cat doing something funny. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just that some people like to do one thing, and others prefer to do something else.

;)

8/28/2009 #16
HK-47 Scarlet

Ah, that makes sense. Hehe, I like your explanations. XD

8/28/2009 #17
Wildcard999

Thanks. Actually, I'd never really thought about making a statement like that. It seems...kind of a stretch.

Actually, I thought it was kind of a funny reason to paint a cat like that.

8/28/2009 . Edited 8/28/2009 #18
Dejsha's World

(Great topic).

I was wondering, is it a bad thing to capitalise Of The, A etc?

Also, my problem is; I put bla's story, bla's tale. Today I wrote a story "Caillean" after a carachter from Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I didn't know if it was a good title. The story is based on Caillean's pov, but it didn't sound right. I hate bla's story/tale, it sounds plain.

8/31/2009 #19
Wildcard999

It's just unnecessary when they are in the middle of a title. At the beginning, it's mandatory, but in the middle, it doesn't really matter, I don't think. So most people don't.

Btw, character starts with a c-h.

Tell us what the story is about. It doesn't have to be [person's name] story/tale, you can name it after the content itself. I've written plenty of fics from a particular person's POV, but I never named it after them. Heck, I wrote a quick one-shot about a girl who'd taken over the Batman costume for her missing friend. All I really said was how she felt about him being gone, her being in his place, and all she'd given up to be Batman. I called it 'For Those Who Came Before'. It never even occured to me to call it Max's Tale.

So tell us what happens and we'll see what we can do, 'kay?

8/31/2009 #20
Dejsha's World

The one I am working on now, tells the story of Durnik, one of the carachters in the book.

8/31/2009 #21
Wildcard999

...Okay...that still doesn't tell me what happens. If you want help coming up with a title, we need a summary of what happens in the story. And not necessarily the FFN version (since that one's supposed to hold back).

8/31/2009 #22
Dejsha's World

um, its hard to explain if one hasn;t read the book. Basically, its a Belgariad story and its Durniks pov. It starts out when he's a smith and then goes into his thoughts and emotions as he, Belgarath, Polgara and Garion and the rest of the group travel to retreave the orb of Aldur

8/31/2009 #23
Wildcard999

So, it's basically the same book, but from this other guy's POV?

8/31/2009 #24
Dejsha's World

So, it's basically the same book, but from this other guy's POV?

Yeah, with different things - like scenes you don't see in the book etc.

8/31/2009 #25
Wildcard999

Oh, okay. Well, still...getting a more indepth look at what actually goes on in the fic would really help. What makes his POV different from the canon POV? How is his perspective different (other than having different scenes that aren't in the original book)?

8/31/2009 #26
Dejsha's World

I posted the first chapter last night, its called "Durniks tale" that may help

8/31/2009 #27
markmark261

As long as you know what correct capitalization is, I think like all rules it can be broken. I know I've got a story called "inferiors" which begins with a lowercase letter on purpose (because the comic book characters it features always had lowercase lettering in the title of their comic). Also, under a different pen name, I did a Buffy The Vampire Slayer crossover, vAMpIreS where the uppercase letters spelt the name of the crossover show, Friends, in French (admittedly, looking back at it now, it's highly pretentious).

Also, the fandom itself can affect the titles. Since the Smallville show always uses one word titles, a lot of my Smallville fanfics also do. Similarly, a lot of my other titles are puns or homages to previous titles. For multi-chapter stories, I also tend to title each chapter as well, and they tend to be a mix of puns, song titles, and movie names.

9/11/2009 . Edited 9/11/2009 #28
Saeth Ceirwyn

Whatever you choose, please have enough mercy not to name your fic after a pop song or poem. Or worse, some one else's work. It's a major turn off.

9/11/2009 #29
oXXb00kw0rmXXo

I personally don't use pop songs, but I'll admit to naming some fics after Broadway songs. Of course, that's my personal pop music, basically, I listen to that stuff so often it's scary. One was a Twilight AU oneshot that I called "No One Mourns the Wicked" because it was about Jasper killing Bella and running away, thinking that nobody would care (majorly AU, though, not from New Moon or anything, if anybody understands this... it was Jasper/Bella). My others were actually from muscials, so I think that might have been okay. The musical fandom that I write for (RENT) has a lot of people playing with the songs as their titles. One of them was a pretty much what was going on before and during this song called "Light My Candle" and during the song, they keep blowing out the candle as they flirt wiht one another (it's a lot cuter and better than it sounds, really!). One line is "It's Out Again" so I took that for my title. But it had other relevance to the story, such as a figurative flame being out, as well as a literal one.

Hm... considering I don't write many multichaptered fics, I just called them Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc. Not very creative, but, hey, I'd prefer my effort be spent on the actual chapter than chapter titles.

Anybody willing to help for this title? It's for a RENT fic and the working title is... Meeting. Tada! Anybody wanna guess what it's about? No? Okay, didn't think so.

The plot is pre-RENT and is about how two of the main characters, Mark and Roger, met. They're best friends by the time RENT rolls around and have gone through all sorts of stuff together, but none of that has happened yet. It starts with Mark laying on a bench in NYC, wondering when its going to rain again and trying to figure out where to go this time. He doesn't have anywhere to stay yet and he's been in the city for 2 weeks. Roger comes by, scares the living crap out of him, and points him in the direction of shelter. He notices that Mark is shivering and gives him his scarf (the blue and white striped one :) The fic was originally just how he got the scarf, but evolved into much more). Anyhow, they go their seperate ways. Cut to Roger in the loft (Sorry for the film speak, I don't even film. But I see it as a movie, so...). He decides that he wants to invite Mark to live with him and his friends, despite his friends being skeptical of it. But then realizes that he has no idea where Mark will be the next day. Cut back to Mark, in the performance lot, where Maureen is setting up for her newest show. He offers to help her, she freaks him out by flirting with him (she flirts with anything that will move!), and he very quickly backs away ASAP. Back to the loft, Maureen comes home and Roger is discussing with her about this kid he wants to find. Maureen recalls maybe seeing him and agrees to go out with him to find him the next day. Back to Mark, he's at a payphone the next day calling his annoying mother, drops tons of coins and is helped out unexpectedly by Collins (another of the main characters). Collins doen't realze that this is the kid that Roger is looking for at that very moment and goes home. They put all the pieces together and the next day, Collins, maureen, and Roger go out looking for Mark. He's sick with a bad fever, and a cough (this has been building up throughout). The drag him with them home and it's a happy ending (not as corny at it sounds... I hope).

Okay, that was a long summary, but it's a pretty long oneshot. I have no idea what to name it, becuase so much happens! He meets everyone, but he has 3 initial meetings with three initial people (and, coincidentally, they're the only ones still really around during RENT. I just noticed that... April died and Benny became a j***. Wow.). And different things happen each time. He interacts differently with all of them. Any ideas? I've been listening tot he soundtrack, seeing if there's anything I can throw a spin to, but I don't know. This is pre-RENT, so not much really refers to that in the soundtrack, except for all the background given in the 3 tuneups. Thanks so much!

9/11/2009 #30
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