Names, names, names.
One thing I have heard over and over in the writing community is that naming your work is hard. It’s rough coming up with a catchy title, something that not only snags the attention of the fickle reader, but that also encompasses the entirety of the work in just a few words. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with naming my work.
Of course I’m married to the King of Nomenclature, so it’s easy for me.
Oh? You don’t know him? Then allow me to introduce you to Mr. Tony Brown, King of Naming Things. I don’t know how he does it, but he pulls clever names out of his hat faster than a jackrabbit hauling ass from a burning den. All I have to do is describe the tale, and voilà! I am living large with a title I can be proud of.
And no, you can’t borrow him. He works for me. So you just back off!
Yeah, sorry about that, but I gets possessive of my teddy bear.
What are the rest of you poor mortals going to do about your naming blues? While I did my best to interrogate … I mean interview, yeah, interview my big guy about his naming process, he wasn’t very forthcoming with results. He says, and I quote, “You just look at a thing and know its name. It just comes to me. Sorry.”
Instead, I’ll try to give a few points of advice on how I choose titles. After all, Tony doesn’t name all of my work. Just most of it. Okay, he names the overwhelming majority, true, but I have been known to come up with a wing dinger of a title on my own.
The reason I think people have so much trouble naming work is because they want their titles to mean something more than just what the story is about. You just spent two weeks cranking out a five thousand word short story with depth and breadth and life and meaning, and you want your title to reflect your hard work. So you bang your head against the wall trying to make the title as artsy and edgy and eye catching as you possibly can. This can easily be a mistake. Don’t put too much work into it. The title is a first impression for your reader, true, but once they start reading it the title will melt to the background and your work will come to light.
When stumped for a title, I find that a good method is lifting one of the phrases from the piece for a title. Some clever piece of dialogue always makes for a good title.
Another good trick is just calling it what it is. Just name it what the piece is about. One story I did was about shoes, so the title became simply Shoes. Granted each shoe contained a disarticulated, rotting foot, but the story is just Shoes, not Disarticulated Rotting Foot Filled Shoes. That would just be silly.
Character names always go a long way in helping folks figure out what a story is going to be like. Just give it the moniker of your main character. Slap on the name of your main man or woman and you have an instant title.
The best method is just let the work title itself. Read it aloud and the first thing that leaps to mind when you’re done can make for a great title. An emotion evoked by the work, an old cliché that stands out, even something that at first glance looks like it has nothing to do with the piece, until you start to really think about it.
I hope I have helped a little in your naming quests. If you want to borrow the King, just ask nicely and I'll see if he is available.
On a side note, I have logged all of my submissions and decided to share the list with you guys. Not meant to be a bragging thing, it's just a 'hey look what I done!' thing. Enjoy!Periodicals:
Burst Literary ezine (Fall 2008)- Predator
Macabre Cadaver (Issue #4)- Snake Oil
Steampunk Tales (Issue #5)- Cold Boiler Blues
Steampunk Tales (Issue #9)- Calliope
Zygote in My Coffee (Issue #121)- Forever Young
Morpheus Tales (Issue #6)- Killing Heaven
Morpheus Tales (Undead Special)- Sweet Bread
The Monster Next Door (Issue #7)- Sunshine
Eclectic Flash (April 2010)- Heart of The Matter
Tales of World War Z (October 2010)- Promises to Keep
Alien Skin Magazine (April/May 2010)- Routine
Flashes in the Dark (August 2010)- Cry Wolf
Undead in The Head Poetry (Coscom Entertainment)- Only Flesh
Letters From The Dead (Library of the Living Dead)- Rebecca
Eye Witness Zombie (May December Publishing)- Doomsday Rambling
Tooth Decay (Sonar 4)- Sweet Tooth
Tooth Decay (Sonar 4)- Stage Fright
Ladies of Horror (Sonar 4)- Yearning
Ladies of Horror (Sonar 4)- Good Food, Good Meat
Hungry for Your Love (Ravenous Romans, St Martin’s Press)- Undying Love
Zombidays (Library of the Living Dead)- Caveat Emptor
Best New Zombie Tales III (Books of the Dead)- Sweet Bread
Ladies of Horror (Library of the Living Dead)- Nearly Departed
Daily Flashes of Erotica (Pill Hill Press)- Five More Miles
Daily Flashes of Erotica (Pill Hill Press)- Hard Lesson
Gone With The Dirt (Pill Hill Press)- Civil Unrest
Risen Cadaver Collaboration (Library of the Living Dead)- Zombies are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other, with Bill Tucker
D.O.A. (Blood Bound Books)- Sickened
Twisted Fish (Living Dead Press)- Careful What You Fish For
Probing Uranus (Library of Science Fiction)- Head Games
Groanology I (Library of Horror)- House Rules
Groanology II (Library of Horror)- Survivors Anonymous
Malicious Deviance (Library of Horror)- Mr. Banjo
Rapid Decomposition (Library of the Living Dead)- Change of Heart
Rapid Decomposition (Library of the Living Dead)- Just Another Meal
Phaze- Flirting With Death
Lyrical Press- Clockworks and Corsets
Lyrical Press- Pistons and Pistols
Sugar and Spice- Burn
Sonar 4- The Blooming
Sugar and Spice- Epiphany
Sugar and Spice- White Elephant
Library of Erotic Horror- Lucky Stiff: Memoirs of an Undead Lover