janegraddell: (Default)
[personal profile] janegraddell
So, I'm curious. I finally decided to title this one ancient stubbornly-untitlable story, employing my usual method of trolling through the collected works of Christopher Marlowe looking for quotes, and I started wondering where I got most of my titles from.

I was surprised that, while Marlowe was certainly the single largest outside source, he's only responsible for the titles of 7 of my previously posted stories. 7 more titles were from other sources (1 song, 1 TV show, 2 books, 1 saying, 1 government form) and the remaining 9 (the ones of two words or less, strangely enough :)) were ones that I seem to have thought up myself.

And that brings me to a few questions for other title-makers: Do you have any favored source for titles? Do you deliberately avoid titles from outside sources? Avoid titles from particular sources like songs or Shakespeare? Do you like to have a title that ties into the fandom for which the story is being written? Do you like to have a common theme through all your titles? Insist on making them all up from scratch?

As for readers, is there anything that turns you on or off about a title? Do you dislike titles from certain sources? Prefer titles that have meaning within the fandom? Like or dislike long or short titles? Not care?

Just curious. :)

Date: 2004-12-14 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackoweskla.livejournal.com
This got me thinking about my published stories, because I thought that I borrowed most of my titles as well, but only one of them is from an outside source (and a religious one at that!). However, I do have this sneaky plot-bunny that won't die of a set of drabbles all concerning a different line from Hamlet's big soliloquy in Act III, scene i, so this statistic may be changing soon.

Date: 2004-12-15 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegraddell.livejournal.com
I thought that I borrowed most of my titles as well, but only one of them is from an outside source

See, that's what I thought, too. I was really surprised that I'd apparently managed to dredge up more than a third of my titles from my brain. I was also surprised when I did a rough poll and determined that only about half my stories were NC-17. It's amazing what one doesn't know about oneself. :)

Date: 2004-12-14 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coreopsis.livejournal.com
I seem to take an awful lot of titles from songs--either actual titles or from lyrics. I don't particular like doing it, but it's what I seem to fall back on when I can't think of anything better. It's a rare occasion for me to hear/see/think of something and decide it would be a good title before actually writing anything, but it does happen.

I've done a common theme for one series (sub-series? anyway) by making each title one word that started with a C. It happened by accident at first and then I realized I could avoid a lot of my usual titling angst by going with it. That was fun, but turned out to be a singular experience for me.

As a reader, I love clever titles but if they're too obscure I like the writers to explain where they came from. (sometimes they do, sometimes they don't) I do not love stories that are the name of a character. I've seen that come up a couple times in a new fandom and it's just irritating. I also wish people would avoid the multifandom cliche titles we've talked about before: Shades of Grey, Aftermath, Revelations, etc. There are probably others.

I don't think I answered all your questions, but some at least. :-)

Date: 2004-12-15 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegraddell.livejournal.com
Song titles are one of the few things I avoid, mostly because I don't really know any song titles that would have meaning for anyone other than fellow Al Stewart fans. The only title that's from a song is "New York Minute," and that's because [livejournal.com profile] ladypredator suggested it and I thought it was good and used it without actually knowing it was a song. Just call me Lives-In-A-Cave.

I've done a common theme for one series (sub-series? anyway) by making each title one word that started with a C.

That's pretty cool, even it was accidental. My main problem with series, I think, is that I don't ever write enough other stories to have a pattern. I was going to write a sequel to "Passing" called "Faking," but, well....

There really should be some kind of auto-archive software that alerts you to cliched titles ("I'm sorry, but there are already seven other stories in this archive titled "Aftermath." Please choose another title.")

Date: 2004-12-15 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coreopsis.livejournal.com
mostly because I don't really know any song titles that would have meaning for anyone
For me, it's not about them having meaning for anyone else (or even myself in some cases) so much as just being a concise combination of words that kinda fits the story or some aspect of the story. If left to my own devices all my titles would be like my titles tend to be--vague and rambly: "Character X and Character Y...um, do some stuff, but not much, really, although they do talk a lot and probably have some sex. or at least think about having sex..." (looking at it that way, I may be writing the same story over and over again. heh.)

Now that I've read the other comments, I think [livejournal.com profile] graculus is on to something. *g*

There really should be some kind of auto-archive software that alerts you to cliched titles ("I'm sorry, but there are already seven other stories in this archive titled "Aftermath." Please choose another title.")
That would be brilliant. And terribly helpful.

Date: 2004-12-14 06:27 pm (UTC)
xochiquetzl: Xochiquetzl (Default)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzl
I sometimes surf the thesaurus function at http://www.m-w.com/ . OTOH, sometimes this yields horrible one word titles that mean nothing. I also surf for quotes and stuff, or pick something related to a song I listened to while writing it or something vague like that. Sometimes I wish I could call every story, "That fic where they get together," or something. ;)

I looked for Shakespeare quotes on my latest story, and did the thesaurus search. No go. I ended up using a ballet/music term. I like it.

As for titles I hate, well, I don't care too much about the title, but it IS mildly annoying to read an entire story about, I don't know, Harry Potter turning into a duck-billed platypus and marrying the giant squid and have it be called, say, "Total eclipse of the sun!" if no eclipses were harmed featured in the making of this story and I can't fathom what the frell eclipses have to do with it. And it's confusing if the title is something twenty people have named their twenty different fics. But in general, titles are hard and I will usually remember my struggles with title and cut the author some slack.

Date: 2004-12-15 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegraddell.livejournal.com
Sometimes I wish I could call every story, "That fic where they get together," or something. ;)

Yeah, that'd be nice, instead of having to not only decide what the heck the story was about, but also figure out something short and clever that sums it up without being overused or dorky.

it IS mildly annoying to read an entire story about, I don't know, Harry Potter turning into a duck-billed platypus and marrying the giant squid and have it be called, say, "Total eclipse of the sun!"

LOL! Yeah, that's about the same annoyance I have with really serious stories that have cute jokey titles (or vice versa). And while I do get annoyed with overused titles, I also know that it's hard even for someone who's been in a fandom for a while to realize how overused stuff like "Aftermath" and "Shades of Gray" can be. I titled one story "Rebound," and there can't be more than a billion other stories with *that* title. :)

Date: 2004-12-14 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] graculus.livejournal.com
I've always felt fic should be titled '[insert pairing] slash story #[insert number]'. ;)

Date: 2004-12-15 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegraddell.livejournal.com
I've always felt fic should be titled '[insert pairing] slash story #[insert number]'. ;)

Think of all the time we could save not hunting through books and episodes looking for titles! And, really, that tells the readers all they need to know. :)

Date: 2004-12-15 07:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] graculus.livejournal.com
Exactly! Saves effort for everyone, saves those members of your readership with a smaller vocabulary than others feeling left out, it's a minimalist approach that pleases all. ;)

Date: 2004-12-15 01:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janecarnall.livejournal.com
There was a meme circulating months and months ago that I used as my introductory post (http://www.livejournal.com/users/janecarnall/494.html) that was all about titles. I wrote quite a bit about how I do titles there.

Date: 2004-12-15 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janegraddell.livejournal.com
Cool meme. I think I might have to do that one. :) You picked some good quotes to use as titles, I have to say. "There Are Five Lights" is a really good one, because it calls up *everything* about that episode, and lets the reader know what they're in for. I've never quite dared use an episode quote myself because every time I think up a good one someone else comes along and uses it first, drat 'em.

Date: 2004-12-15 07:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janecarnall.livejournal.com
I was thinking about the titles in the Hawkeye/Mulcahy tetralogy I'm working on right now:

"An Officer and a Gentleman" is just the classic cliche, but so appropriate...

"Out and Far Tonight" is a Kipling quote - though the language has been tidied up from the pseudo-Cockney "dialect" he used in his earlier poems. "Danny Deever".

"For Ever" is from Psalm 109. Or possibly 110, depending whether you're Catholic or Protestant.

The last story is called "Such As We", and is really, like the first title, just... appropriate.

A lot of my titles, I think, just come from the air - they work. It's only when I'm stuck that I look around for quotes. I like Kipling - he's just full of quotations... ;-)

Date: 2004-12-15 02:55 am (UTC)
ext_14375: (Default)
From: [identity profile] obsessed1.livejournal.com
I take things from all over; song titles, quotes, foriegn and/or dead languages, cliches, jokes, mythology, and frequently right out of my posterior. It really depends on my mood, I suppose...

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