Skip to main content

Naming a work of Fiction - WTF do I call it?!

This is a guest post by Jessica Harpley..

Have you ever started a project under a temporary name, and then as things keep progressing along, you’re really not sure what to call it? The further into the project you get, the more the name starts sticking to it like some needy significant other. It’s not right for the project, but your project has been with that name for so long that it’s gotten comfortable with it. It’s settled.

Stop! Don’t settle for a sticky, needy, insufficient name. I did, and I’m fairly upset about it, but it’s too late now! My book that has yet to be published is smack in the middle of the same issue. It’s had this name for six years! When I went online and searched that name, I got a bunch of werewolf erotica… Nope. I’m not sticking my epic science fiction trilogy next to your steamy dog porn, thank you very much (not that there’s anything at all wrong with werewolf erotica).

Let’s get into why we’re here. I’m going to run through one of exercises I’m using to find my book a new name. Hopefully it will be useful to you, or at least entertaining.

Synopsis - My Nemesis

If you’re like me, you don’t like trying to summarize your work of art into a few pages, let alone a few words. But herein lies the salvation to your trying times. Write out the basic premise of your work, and keep refining it, smaller and smaller until you’re left with a very basic concept. From there, you can begin generating many names. Let me run through the exercise in a hypothetical scenario:

Set in ancient times, Klatus is a wealthy man who loses everything to gambling. Destitute in the streets, he seeks to make a deal with a demon to regain his former glory. But Klatus doesn’t know the contract damns more than just his eternal soul. He fights for survival now in a city overrun with horrors beyond the nightmares of the unsuspecting townsfolk. Will he become the hero they so desperately need, and condemn himself to eons of torment?

Huh… I should probably write that story. So we have, Klatus the potential hero, ancient times, gambling, devils, acts of heroism, and nightmarish battles. Taking just these things we know, we can start writing down some words:


Sweet! We have words there. Using Klatus, here are a few of the combinations that really stuck out to me as catchy:
Klatus’ Ante
Redemption of the Gambler
The Devil’s Deal (yay for alliteration!)
Wager of Salvation

Anyway, so there you have it. Grid out some words, start smacking them together. Be sure to keep a running list of the words you know you don’t want in your title. For example, if you’re not writing a romance, I would suggest keeping the word “secret” out of the name. There is a surprising number of sexytime books with that word.

If you like what you saw here, or I entertained you in some way, please check out my debut novella - The Mill - (dang that sticky, needy name to hell). It’s available for digital preorder right now, and paperbacks go on sale October 15th: If you’re not interested in buying my work (soon-to-be works) of fiction and just like reading my ramblings, you can check me out at I’d like to thank Amber Gregg for giving me the opportunity to take over her blog for a post! It’s always so flattering to be invited to share my knowledge/wisdom/insanity with the likes of other humans.

Popular posts from this blog

El Deafo | Cece Bell

And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel/Memoir. Number of Pages: 233. Perspective: First. Location: Virginia.
This graphic novel follows the author throughout her time as a young girl in the 1970s and her experiences losing her hearing from meningitis at the age of four. She learns how to make friends and accept herself. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This was a beautiful story about someone who copes with becoming deaf. I took an American Sign Language course in college and we talked a lot about the deaf culture; it was interesting to learn about some of the daily challenges that someone who is deaf faces. This book explains those challenges in a way that children can understand and relate to. We have come a long way with accessibility since the 70s, but we all could use …

5 Reasons Why I Hate Book Series

Many of you know that I hate book series. If at all possible, I try to stick to stand-alone novels. A few rare trilogies land on my bookshelf and an even rarer few get a good review. Here are my reasons why I hate trilogies: 

1. The first book is perfected.

Authors have an unlimited amount of time to perfect the first book. They may have many rewrites and rejections before it is finally accepted by a publisher. By that point, the book should be pristine. The author may not have a deal with the publisher for a series yet, but once the first book proves its worth, the publisher will definitely ask for the rest of the series. Depending on the popularity, the author will be forced to get the next books out quickly—unless you are George R.R. Martin. There will be less time to perfect the story and it will be sent out without many rewrites, as to appease the fan-base. As a result, the rest of the series suffers in comparison to the debut. 
2. The waiting is torture. 

Part of the reason why the …

My Journey with Scoliosis [and related book reviews]

I have scoliosis. That is a fact and it is a part of my identity. I am on a continuous journey to correct my spinal curve. Part of this journey is educating myself and figuring out which approach I should take next. So I received and reviewed several books on scoliosis ( I will be adding more as time goes on). But before I can begin my reviews, I think it is important that I share my own personal journey with scoliosis. 
I was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curve in my spine, when I was about eight years old. It was purely an accident. My mom was seeing a chiropractor for her own slight curvature, and I was playing around on the scales when the doctor noticed that when I stood on two scales, one foot on each, one side of my body weighed significantly more than the other. So he decided to give me an X-ray. My curve was noticeable at that time, but it became more severe as time went on. The worst was during puberty when I hit a growth spurt. In several years, my spinal curve increased almos…

Hex | Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves."
Genre: Horror. Number of Pages: 384. Perspective: Third. Location: New York.
Hex is the story of a town that is cursed by a witch with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in houses and just stands and stares for days at a time. The people of the town can never leave and are plagued by the fear of what would happen if the witch’s eyes and mouth are ever opened. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This book started off kind of funny and light-hearted. The middle starts to get a little creepy and suspenseful, and the end is downright strange. It was an enjoyable book, but you’ll have to wait a long time for the climax. The bulk of the action happens in the last 50 pages. For me, that felt rushed and left me with more questions than answers. 
Hex was originally written in Dutch and translated to English. With that in mind, I am utterly impressed with the flow and readability of the story. Th…

Ten Things Writers Need to Know

This is a guest post by Heather Weidner. I was asked recently what advice I would give to someone who wants to write. Here’s my list…
1. Read. Read. Read. 

Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn about the genre. Learn about techniques and style. See what works and what doesn't.

2. Seek out writers like you. 

Find a writers' group. I write mysteries, so Sisters in Crime was a perfect fit. I am also in the online community, Guppies. They have tons of resources and advice. And they are so supportive and helpful. 
3. There are a lot of books out there on the craft of writing. 
My favorite is Stephen King's On Writing. Invest in books that help you. But use your library too. FREE is good.

4. If you are serious about writing, find a critique group. 
It's an investment in your time to read the submissions. Make sure that the feedback is helpful. Critiques need to be constructive and not personal. My critique group specializes in mysteries and crime fiction. And that works fo…