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Thread: Titles

  1. #1
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    Keeping in typical Doryuzu fashion, let's discuss something a bit trivial.

    What are your stances on titles. I'm referring to chapter titles and your fanfiction's story title. How do you do it? I've ran into most stories that simply go with the "one word" chapter titles and stories that go all out on the length of a title. There are even stories that do pun chapter titles. Though the first seems most popular since titling a chapter "Remember" or "Shattered" seems more stoic and cooler.

    So, how do you guys do yours and what do you prefer of other peoples' titles? I'm probably one in a million here but I actually like Pun/Reference-Titles, when they're clever. I actually have some pun titles planned out for future chapters of my fics. Plus puns aren't so "generic" so to speak, I mean like naming a chapter where two friends fight, "Trust".

    What route do you go?

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    Did our conversation inspire this? :P

    I'm personally fine with them just being numerical, as most of the books I read have them like that. And normally, with books that I do read with chapter titles, I'm much more interested in the content to where I don't pay any attention to the title.

    Now since this is on fanfiction, I think whatever fits the tone of the fic would suffice.
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    I like both puns and "serious" titles. The only real thing I look for is that the title does relate to something in the story or chapter.

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    I'm not very clever when it comes to my titles, both story title and chapter titles, so whatever I think up of and sticks/has a nice ring to it will tend to be the title for whichever. In most cases, I'll rely on song titles because that was either the song that inspired my story, or I just like the sound of it. Which is why my two current stories are named after song titles ("Mag Mell" is the name of the opening theme for CLANNAD, "Forsaken" is a Within Temptation song). I'm sure that if I were to take the time to work on my stories and think things through as thoroughly as possible, I would probably make a subtle theme out of the chapter titles, and possibly with the story title as well (which is what the anime adaptation of ef: Tale of Memories did). Thus, I tend to applaud the people who can do that, because I go insane over it very easily.

    I don't really care too much about my preferences for other people's stories. Everyone has their own taste in words that if they feel works for their stories well, good for them, I won't complain about the length. I try and go for one or two-worded titles because... well, so it fits well in the drop-down on FFN, of course, and also perhaps so it could catch someone's eye and wonder, "Huh, I wonder how that particular word will fit into this story". But again, whatever I can come up with I tend to stick with. I rarely change chapter titles because of it. And when I'm naming chapters, I tend to wait until after I'm done writing the chapter. Story titles tend to come more easily for me, to the point I have actually come up with the story title first before developing the story.

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    I write a serious story (an original one at that), so I mainly stay with epic, and serious titles. It's fun to make them in different languages: my title, Auđn, is Icelandic for wasteland.
    Last edited by Meeker; 22nd January 2013 at 3:22 AM.
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    Like the others before me said, I like to think of titles that have some relevance in the story in some way. And shorter/one word titles do at times, sound better when reading. It's a process, thinking of a good title. I started with a list of titles I all thought were good, and simply narrowed it down from there with questions like "Is this the name I want my story to be forever known by?"

    That's how I came up with PMD: Overthrown as a title. Short, has meaning, and it sounds good.
    Hope this helps.

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    I'm thinking I'll go through my word-a-day calender and use some of the fancy words there, in future works. I'm a little bit tired of titles having some sort of intrinsic meaning relating to the story. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it will refresh me, at least, to make have somewhere where I can look at a title and know without a doubt that it's just a word that means the entire chapter, without attempting to encapsulate it.

    Though, I do tend to prefer worded titles to just the numbers. That gets boring, doesn't it? At least if you have words you can look for patterns in letter, tone, consistency, what-have-you. Even (especially!) when there's none there.

    For serious works, I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Of the first fourteen, all but one is titled with two words, and both words have the same number of letters (e.g. Ghost Story, Cold Days). They relate to the story, of course, but it's a small pattern that's like a trivia tidbit of fun.

    With my own, Refinery, the title is just a twist from what I'd called it before, Steel. The story went through some big changes, so I saw it fitting to change the title as well. It doesn't have very much to do with the story itself (maybe), but it does have a slightly whimsical sound to it, and what more can you ask from a title than to sound good?
    Last edited by IJuggler; 22nd January 2013 at 3:29 AM.
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    It differs depending on what I'm working on. For my ongoing series Central, I'm mostly working with song titles that somehow pertain to what's going on in the chapter. For my other mini-series, I'm just going with whatever sounds best to me. If I thought more about my stories thematically, I'd probably take the time to come up with more meaningful titles, but unfortunately, I've never been very creative with naming.
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    Coming up with titles is so difficult for me - it's usually the very last thing I come up with. Right now, I have a huge, clear vision of an RP idea, from the setting to the characters to the plot... Except the title. Ughh. -__-

    My titles tend to, of course, relate to the story, but they usually aren't very similar. For example, I am planning a trilogy of stories which all have very different titles. One is "Journey to Nowhere," which pretty bluntly drives the point home that the characters are chasing a lost, and at this point, unknown cause. But the next, "Princess Desolation," isn't as clear until you've finished the story, and is a very symbolic title.


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    Well for the fic title, I'll usually go with something important. Egg of Destiny, is about a celebi, named Destiny. It's the beginning of a series called the Kepper series, which has to do with "Legendary Keepers" (a concept later explained). In Angel, it's about an Angel of Death. Psychopath, a griffin who's lost all hope and sanity and tries to get it back. Etc. etc.

    For the chapter title, it's usually a pun relating to what's going on. Like, a chaper of Egg of Destiny is calleed Building a Barricade, because they're gathering supplies and stuff. But if I can't think of a title, I'll do what Brandon Sanderson did in his Alcatraz series and name it something completely weird. Or I just won't name it.

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    For me, I try to have story titles that has a relevant meaning on several different levels. That's not always the case though. Having a memorable, catchy, and non-generic name is also a good thing to have in a title.

    For chapter titles, there's a little more leeway. I prefer to reserve pun titles for chapters, though I still try to make sure that they're relevant to the chapter, and I try to have the title work on as many levels as possible. Sometimes they're one word titles, other times not.
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    I'm one of those authors that struggle with titles.

    I usually employ them into the fic at the last minute. I can honestly say; random title generators = life saver.

    I also sometimes use song lyrics but that's a secret shh.

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    I do a lot of different things with chapter titles and story titles. Sometimes I play it serious, but I also delight in puns, references and general silliness. Usually I try to make the tone of the title match the tone of the chapter. I don't like to have fics with just numbered chapters. I did it once and was annoyed at myself after the fact when I tried to go back and find things from previous chapters and found it less easy to locate what I wanted.

    Funny thing about chapter titles vs. story titles... for chapter titles, I almost always think of them after I've written the chapter. Sure, there are some moments where I'm like "Oh, I KNOW what that chapter's gonna be called" but usually I wait until I'm done and try to think of something pithy that works on multiple levels or at least entices the reader to see what's happening--or, quite often, is a phrase picked out from the text of the chapter itself. Point is, titling the chapter usually happens after the chapter is written.

    ...I find it very difficult to do that with story titles. I know it's kinda silly, but it's hard for me to really pull all my ideas together--to make me feel like a chaptered story or a oneshot is real--until I at least have a working title. Maybe it's because I'm list-oriented so I can write down "Write Artificial Sweetener" but I feel dumb writing down "Write that gothic horror thingy oneshot, you know the one" (Fact: these are both real things I'm working on). I wish I could get over it, because it sometimes holds me back from writing things I'm having trouble thinking of a working title for. Then again, stumbling upon a title I like a lot can really get me motivated to work on it. That happened with a certain fic that I was kinda brushing aside because I didn't have much confidence in it. Then the title "Legal Matter" popped into my head and I was like "Okay, I have to write that now." ...And then I did! (Any fans of The Who in the house?)

    I wish I could tell you all the title of something else I'm working on because it is the best/worst title in the world and it fills me with evil giggles every time I think of it.

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    I'm terrible with titles. The Quest for the Legends (case in point) has chapter titles, but they tend to be hard to think of and a lot of the time the title is the last thing I make up before I post the chapter. (When it's not, it's because I have an easy cop-out: for instance, if the chapter introduces a character, that usually means I get horribly uncreative and name the chapter after their name.) For Morphic, I didn't title chapters at all and that saved me a lot of grief. TQftL is the kind of story that feels like it should have chapter titles, though, so I wouldn't switch over to not having them.

    I go for single-word titles a lot because they're simpler and often less cheesy than longer ones, but overall it's a mix.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meeker View Post
    I write a serious story (an original one at that), so I mainly stay with epic, and serious titles. It's fun to make them in different languages: my title, Auđn, is Icelandic for wasteland.
    The trouble with that is that while your readership may think the title looks cool, I'm probably the only person in the fanfic forum (other than you, or so I'd hope) who actually knows how to pronounce it, or what it means without first looking it up or reading a post like this. It's also highly likely to lead to people misspelling your title horribly, because instead of being words that they recognize and can remember as units of meaning, they have to try to remember exactly what letter goes where in a bundle of what is to them meaningless gibberish. In your particular title, it's a very short word so your readers have a pretty good chance of remembering what order the letters are in, but on the other hand, you have a non-Latin character in it and thus end up with people who don't know that đ is a modified d referring to your story as "Auon".

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    I give my chapter titles words, however, it does depend on what actually happens as to how I'll name it. I also quite enjoying going down the pun route too, and I've attempted a few of them as well.

    I think largely though it depends on the people, the readers, and also the story. There are some story's that just don't need to have anything bar numbers in the chapter titles, whereas, there are some where having something is needed and will come in handy. It reminds me of the program Two and a Half Men where they use something bizarre said in the episode as the episode title. Things like that work because it's a comedy show, and therefore adds to the comedy factor and enjoyment (potentially) of the viewers. And I think the same would apply to a written work too. If it's comedy, something like that, or something comic that relates to the chapter would work well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kutie Pie View Post
    I'm not very clever when it comes to my titles, both story title and chapter titles, so whatever I think up of and sticks/has a nice ring to it will tend to be the title for whichever. In most cases, I'll rely on song titles because that was either the song that inspired my story, or I just like the sound of it. Which is why my two current stories are named after song titles ("Mag Mell" is the name of the opening theme for CLANNAD, "Forsaken" is a Within Temptation song). I'm sure that if I were to take the time to work on my stories and think things through as thoroughly as possible, I would probably make a subtle theme out of the chapter titles, and possibly with the story title as well (which is what the anime adaptation of ef: Tale of Memories did). Thus, I tend to applaud the people who can do that, because I go insane over it very easily.

    I don't really care too much about my preferences for other people's stories. Everyone has their own taste in words that if they feel works for their stories well, good for them, I won't complain about the length. I try and go for one or two-worded titles because... well, so it fits well in the drop-down on FFN, of course, and also perhaps so it could catch someone's eye and wonder, "Huh, I wonder how that particular word will fit into this story". But again, whatever I can come up with I tend to stick with. I rarely change chapter titles because of it. And when I'm naming chapters, I tend to wait until after I'm done writing the chapter. Story titles tend to come more easily for me, to the point I have actually come up with the story title first before developing the story.

    Not the best thing to do, but it's so far worked for me, not that I'm that proud of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall View Post
    Like the others before me said, I like to think of titles that have some relevance in the story in some way. And shorter/one word titles do at times, sound better when reading. It's a process, thinking of a good title. I started with a list of titles I all thought were good, and simply narrowed it down from there with questions like "Is this the name I want my story to be forever known by?"

    That's how I came up with PMD: Overthrown as a title. Short, has meaning, and it sounds good.
    Hope this helps.

    Knightfall signing off...
    Quote Originally Posted by Griff4815 View Post
    For me, I try to have story titles that has a relevant meaning on several different levels. That's not always the case though. Having a memorable, catchy, and non-generic name is also a good thing to have in a title.

    For chapter titles, there's a little more leeway. I prefer to reserve pun titles for chapters, though I still try to make sure that they're relevant to the chapter, and I try to have the title work on as many levels as possible. Sometimes they're one word titles, other times not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skiyomi View Post
    I do a lot of different things with chapter titles and story titles. Sometimes I play it serious, but I also delight in puns, references and general silliness. Usually I try to make the tone of the title match the tone of the chapter. I don't like to have fics with just numbered chapters. I did it once and was annoyed at myself after the fact when I tried to go back and find things from previous chapters and found it less easy to locate what I wanted.

    Funny thing about chapter titles vs. story titles... for chapter titles, I almost always think of them after I've written the chapter. Sure, there are some moments where I'm like "Oh, I KNOW what that chapter's gonna be called" but usually I wait until I'm done and try to think of something pithy that works on multiple levels or at least entices the reader to see what's happening--or, quite often, is a phrase picked out from the text of the chapter itself. Point is, titling the chapter usually happens after the chapter is written.

    ...I find it very difficult to do that with story titles. I know it's kinda silly, but it's hard for me to really pull all my ideas together--to make me feel like a chaptered story or a oneshot is real--until I at least have a working title. Maybe it's because I'm list-oriented so I can write down "Write Artificial Sweetener" but I feel dumb writing down "Write that gothic horror thingy oneshot, you know the one" (Fact: these are both real things I'm working on). I wish I could get over it, because it sometimes holds me back from writing things I'm having trouble thinking of a working title for. Then again, stumbling upon a title I like a lot can really get me motivated to work on it. That happened with a certain fic that I was kinda brushing aside because I didn't have much confidence in it. Then the title "Legal Matter" popped into my head and I was like "Okay, I have to write that now." ...And then I did! (Any fans of The Who in the house?)

    I wish I could tell you all the title of something else I'm working on because it is the best/worst title in the world and it fills me with evil giggles every time I think of it.
    I agree to all of this.

    For me, I like titles with Riddles and symbolic terms. Whether original or not.

    For my original novel Feli Chronicles Series, it is like most Chronicles. but the Word Feli has something to do with the Goddess of my Novel. Plus, my novel shows the concept of an innocent and mature life. Life is the Keyword. FELI ----> LIFE.

    Simple yet symbolic.
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    I try to follow a certain trend for different parts of my fic. In one section all the chapters had one word. In another all the names dealt with light in some way and then in the next they all had references to darkness. As for the fan fiction, I usually try to use something that will have some relevance to the plot. If I ever do a prequel one-shot then that prequel then it has to deal with beginning or coming before.
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    The fewer things I have to name, the better. Characters, chapters, the story itself? I hate it because I'm not particularly good at it. I'm better at naming characters/places than anything else just because there are ways to go about that to make names thematic or, at least, relevant to me. It's easy enough to throw some keywords into Babelfish or look up name meanings or make an anagram for a person or a location. But...

    I tend to regret the title of any story I write fairly immediately after deciding on it. I never feel like my story's title POPS like it should. Any time I start something, I end up looking at the title and thinking "I might as well have called this HERRR BOOK". And chapters? I almost never bother at all. I'm not witty enough to keep coming up with intelligent chapter titles. I wish I were, but I'm not.


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  19. #19
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    I once wrote a story that had a story in the story. Therefore, each chapter came with two titles: the first for the story within the story (the one the main character is writing), and the second for the outer story (the one the readers are reading). The first titles, being from a serious story, were all serious and kinda bland and stereotypical ("Answering the Call," "Recovery," "Squabbles of the Heart"). The second titles, highlighting the profound meta-ness of the whole thing, were themed and outlandish and humorous ("Why Won’t They Get Together Dammit?!," "Why Is This So Depressing, Dammit?!," "What Was Up With That Delay, Dammit?!"). None of my readers figured it out until I told them. Oi.

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  20. #20
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    It depends on the theme.

    I don't just mean that about the story, but whether it is serious or not. For example, having a dark tale of death with a title of 'The Mishaps of [Character Name] and his Pokémon Friends' would be a little out of place. Instead, something short, to the point or poetic would work, such as 'Descent' or 'Loss of Me'.
    In contrast, a lighter tale would have a lighter title, something similar to the first example I created.

    Alternatively, you could base the title about an event, a place, person or group in the story. Take my fic, 'The Seekers of Light', where there is an organisation of the same name. If you are writing an adventure or quest fic, you could just go for '[Character]'s Adventure in [Region]', but if you have created your own world to explore, use that as the title instead. Single names contain mystery, yet the minimalist approach is also alluring.

    Finally, if you do plan to edge towards a shorter name, always include the genre. For example, a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon fic would likely go 'Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: [Title]', or an adventure fic could go '[Region]: An Adventure Fiction'

    Overall, make a title clinching, but also understandable.

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    Hero's Path was a pretty blunt, no nonsense name utterly devoid of any deeper symbolism. I gave each chapter a two word title that was in some way pertinent to the contents in the chapter. For example:

    -"Storm Front" was the start of the darkest, bloodiest arc of the fic
    -"Falling Stars" marked the death of several characters
    -"Paradigm Shift" changed the POV briefly from the main protagonist to the supporting protagonist and principle antagonist
    -"Lightning Strike" on top of being set in a storm, also contained a sudden unexpected event that changed the course of the story
    -"Into Flames" was the beginning of the climax, culminating in (the quite originally named) "Final Battle"
    -The last three chapters conspicuously broke the mold, those being "Answers", "Changes", and "Farewell" respectively.
    -However, the epilogue was a return to form with "And Then"

    In my original fiction, I don't bother to name my chapters. But those tend to have a little bit more meaning behind the names than the painfully basic Hero's Path. The Blazing Heart Saga has the fire motif, so Blazing Heart, Scattered Sparks and Fire Eternal. Then there is Dark Pawn, and it's eventual sequels, Dark Rising and Dark Queen.

    And then there's Sin, which is just the name of the main character. Because even after working on it for a year, and then finishing it eight months ago, I still can't think of a better title...
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    Naming Story titles and chapters are the same as well as Arcs. One thing I did in my Feli Chronicles is naming my Arcs based on the locations that my heroine visit along with important.

    Seedling Arc (this is where my heroine gave birth to her child. She is still a naive mother.)

    Hivanis Arc: Ignisia (By this arc, this is where the story began showing stories of Dark Troubled Times. But this is where she denied to accept her destiny)

    Family Arc (I love this arc personally where two new characters play an important influence to my characters both in a positive and extremely negative way)

    Herbardam Arc (What I love in this arc naming is that this is where my heroine just lost her naivete big time. This is where her destiny is playing a great importance)

    Hivanis Arc: Magmari (This one I'm currently working has to involve with a look back on the history of human faults, partly)

    The others could still take planning.

    But another his I consider nice to polish your title name is using Idiomatic expressions, its personally my favorite category of writing in story writing
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    I will not comment on the others' style of title, because that is really personal taste. But for me personally, I agree with SeekerofLight that chapter and story title should related to the theme.

    For my current fic クロスワールドの冒険者たち (Adventurers of Crossworld), it is an original crossover Adventure fic of Pokemon with another non-Pokemon fandom, hence the fic get such title name. You may also say it is a play on the word "crossword", because the journey within the fic is also like a crossword puzzle.

    I try to make the fic like a Light Novel for entertainment and enjoyment, hence the chapter titles should be vivid and yet clearly state the upcoming story. I choose to take the sentence-style, where a short phrase that tells the most important event of that chapter, but it is not pun.

    Really, I personally not very fond of pun. Pun gives a humourous atmosphere, which suits the funny comedy fic that causes the reader to laugh about. Though my fic has a few funny scenes you may wanted to laugh, but that is not comedy, actions and battles are more than conversations. Also one more important thing: Death of characters occurs in the fic; though it happens only in several few occasions, but the idea is that character understands that death is possible during their adventure. So just short: The theme itself of the fic is not funny.
    Last edited by Crystal; 28th January 2013 at 12:06 AM.
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