Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Well, based my current WIP I’m going to say title names are harder to come up with. You see, I have named every character in my story but one and I still have no idea what the title is. The only other completed short story I’ve got didn’t actually have any character names but the title was definitely the last thing I came up with. When it comes to characters I can just pick a name that feels right for them. Maybe it tells the genre-savvy reader something about the character or maybe it just feels right. But it’s never really been difficult. That’s the great thing about character names, they don’t have to do anything.
Titles, on the other hand, have to attract an audience. They have to relate somehow to the story being told. They have to feel good, sound good, and they have to avoid being too similar to other titles. And as much as it feels like every story has already been told it feels even more like every title has already been used half a dozen times. Also, titles, with a few exceptions, can’t just be a string of syllables put together to entertain me.
I almost always wait until the story is finished before I give it a name. Partly that’s due to the difficulty but I think it also stems from my writing process. I’m not much of an outliner. I come up with a fragment of an idea and I prefer to start writing and see where it goes. One major flaw with this process is that fragments don’t always grow into terribly interesting completed stories. Or, indeed, into completed stories at all. But it also means that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give it a name because if a name describes a story then it’s important to know what I’m trying to describe and I don’t really know until it’s completed. I do, at least, know who a character is and more or less what they want to accomplish when I add them to a story.
Even harder than coming up with a title, though? Coming up with a concept, to begin with. There is a reason I spend far more time writing critiques and general thoughts about writing than I do actually writing stories. I’m having a lot of trouble feeling motivated to work on my current WIP, lately, because I feel like it’s too generic and uninteresting. I know that this is a common feeling for a lot of writers but what if mine actually is generic and uninteresting? How will I punch it up? Anyone got any advice for me about feeling this way and what to do about it?